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Valentine's Day means Business

The following companies are in the "Love game". Could your think of benefiting from this theme?





At least once in our lives, we have all crossed paths with a charming stranger, praying that he/she turns around and starts talking to us casually. Unfortunately, shyness prevails and that scenario never happens (the meeting in the film “I promise” does not depict real life). Fortunately, the French start-up Happn solved this "problem" with an application to find the people you cross paths with and would like to see again. No more dating sites and mysterious dates in Starbucks!Meetings are now made in realtime, with no risk of losing sight of them. So open your eyes wide and smile at the charming stranger!

Happn was founded in January 2014 in Paris, and seduced thousands of users soon after.



It is often said, women are more entrepreneurial in love than men (yes gentlemen, that’s correct)! Now there is an application that helps to take the first step in connecting with a person whom you are interested in. This has been brought to the market by a small Italian start-up, Bumble. If two people like each other, they add themselves to their common circle. The woman has to engage into a conversation in 24 hours or the connection breaks. Better to break the ice quickly without waiting on who is going to make the first move! And it works... 60% of matches result in a conversation.



Have you ever been told that the best way to find love might be in a group? What better than a night arranged in a bar, sipping a fruity cocktail, to make new connections? French start-up Smeeters organizes it all. It suggests meeting new groups of friends, which, according to your criteria, you would love to meet. The meetings are 100% real and live, so you do not have to worry about surprises or the authenticity of people. Meetings of Smeeters are arranged in a bar of your liking! And by the way, what have they planned for your mates for Valentine’s Day? A small group outing they do not know yet?





Small French start-up Weromantique suggests important tips for couples’ weekends. Long gone are the romantic clichés like love apples and Cupid, this start-up is about more than that! Romantic weekends without clichés, Weromantique promises unforgettable moments to be shared with your special someone. And guess what, this year Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday! A short getaway would be a good idea, wouldn’t it?


Little Riot

Isn’t it nice to sleep in the arms of your loved one after a hard and long day at work? Yes. But not all couples have this change: They do not live together, and some are in a long distance relationship. Fortunately, more and more resources are available to maintain the spark between a couple. Whoever said "out of sight, out of mind" certainly had never lived in the 21st century, especially when it is now possible to hear the heartbeat of your partner, wherever you are! An electronic bracelet and an application are sufficient for that, and the London-based start-up Little Riot has developed them. This little gadget called Pillow Talk allows the couple to be connected during sleep and to hear, thanks to the sensor placed under the pillow, heartbeat of each other. The gadget is still in the prototype stage, and there was a successful Kickstarter campaign to start production this year. Staying connected via instant messaging is good, but feeling connected is even better!


Happy Couple

You challenge each other in board games, mobile games, and challenges all the time. But if one day you are asked what your loved one likes to eat for breakfast, or what is their favorite cultural activity is, will you know the answer? There is only one way to check: Connect both to Happy Couple, an application dedicated to couples to play and get points while strengthening their relationship. Questions about Louis XVI and the American continent are so outdated; choose the more personal questions to spice up discussions with your partner.



A small cozy place just for the two of you, on your phone wherever you are, wouldn’t that be nice? Yes indeed. So if you do not know Couple yet, immediately log in your store. Couple is definitely THE great application dedicated to couples, to keep every memory of their history and stay connected on the same principle as instant messaging system like Whatsapp. Organize, track your daily news feed, share each moment as if you were living together with drawings and photos. Thanks to this application, the relationship lives in real time, to live your story in all its moments.


Wedding planning



It is time to take the big step,marking the beginning of the rest of your life as a married couple, the day you say "Yes I do" to your loved one is coming: Your wedding! You're impatient, excited, you cannot wait for that wonderful day, but at the same time you have concerns about all this: The budget, gifts, guests ... there is a lot to think about. Do you remember the start-up Wedzem recently presented in La Ruche? In terms of wedding planning, this young French start-up will surprise you! Forget the unnecessary spending, this participatory wedding platform allows your guests to contribute financially to one of your lists: Dress, caterer, photographer etc.


Marry Click

Speaking of marriage and photographers, the budget spent on getting amazing shots of this unforgettable moment can often be very high. Because every problem has a solution, also for weddings, Italian start-up Marry Click offers to find you the best photographer. This follows the same approach a recruiter uses to find a collaborator. Post your announcement with the details of your wedding (where, when, how many people, what style...), find the profiles of applicants (profile, pictures, comments), and hire the best photographer in the budget that YOU have set. Marry Click system naturally allows you to enter your opinion once the delivery is complete.


Let’s get Weddy

If you are getting married, and prefer a DIY approach in arrangements to save on flowers, the dress and all the tralala, the English start-up Let's get Weddy is for you. Its service helps in finding partners and suppliers, and creating a custom wedding in an economic way. Listed by category, city and budget, partners can be contacted directly from the website and rated by users to avoid unpleasant surprises.


Wanderio – Alcitour
Your darling has left to Erasmus exchange, much too far for your taste. Despite all the ways to stay connected, you fear he/she can go wrong. This is the starting point of Italian startup Wanderio, which has set up a playful, innovative and fun system, called Alcitour, to calculate your odds of being replaced by another. In eight short steps, Alcitour calculates your risk of being betrayed and offers you an immediate discount on your journey to be rejoined with your partner. Obviously the application poses you to the second-degree interrogation, but the idea knows some success in Italy, and may be soon be available in other European countries.

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Harmonizing operations in many locations

the story of

Euran Rakennustarvike Hardware Store

By Marikka Heikkilä

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Euran rakennustarvike is a family-owned hardware retail company owned by the Helin family. In 1993, the family purchased the hardware store at a time when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Located in the small city of Eura, Finland, its target customers are local contractors, decorators, DIYers, farmers, and homeowners. The company stocks and sells building materials, timber, decorating goods, painting supplies, tools, gardening products and much more.

Leentje 171After running the shop for 15 years, the Helin family expanded their business by acquiring two other hardware retail stores located in neighboring cities. Each store has its own managing director who is responsible for running the shop, managing the store’s inventory, and carrying-out deliveries to customers as needed. Three years after expanding their business, the company was confronted with economic difficulties, primarily due to low sales volumes and the overall economic recession taking place in Finland.

The owners asked for help from Jorma Sieviläinen, a Commercial Advisor and a Ph.D. Student from the Turku School of Economics. Accepting the task, Sieviläinen began investigating how the profitability of the company could be improved. His discussions with the store managers revealed that the key processes of sales varied from store to store and each had their own product and supplier databases.

There was clearly a need to integrate the IT-systems and to harmonize the customer data, product pricing and assortment strategies. These tasks took several months to complete.

Further financial analysis showed three other company weaknesses: customer discount levels compared to competitors were high; product purchase prices did not necessarily affect the sales prices; and staff costs were high, especially during the inactive season (October – March). These issues were tackled by introducing new customer discounts politics, product pricing methods, and negotiating with the staff to move their holidays to the inactive season thereby increasing the amount of holiday they take.

Another important change that took place was the innovation of their management model. Before the family delegated the operations to each stores’ directing managers. This caused disintegration in the company and was overall a weak management model. The company changed this by employing an approach more suitable for a retail chain. In doing this, CEO Tapani Helin (pictured above) took direct responsibility of the business and cooperation between stores. The key performance indicators were reported on a monthly basis and discussed between the CEO and the store managers, which led to increased business knowledge and more fact-based decision-making. After the above changes, in 2014 the yearly turnover remained at the same level, but the company was showing profit again.

In summary, this is the story of a company that sought outside help and carefully analyzed its operations. Relying on that analysis, they discovered a need to harmonize its operations and processes, increase coordination and knowledge exchange between stores, and adopt key performance indicators to aid in decision-making. These changes turned the profit-plummeting fragmented store-based Business Model into a profitable Business Model for a chain of stores.

As a result Tapani Helin is taking the next step in business model innovation by attempting to cut the number of suppliers. Currently the company has 336 suppliers, mainly offering similar products. By concentrating on the number of suppliers, he is looking for a better negotiation position, increased savings, and more efficient supplier chain management.

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