Collective strength – Market leverage through a cooperative

IDEA – A business-minded attitude is the lesson learned by Aino Hatakka, who signed her company’s charter in spring 2016, fresh from studying a Master’s in Environmental and Regional Studies. A new group of 20 fellow students had just been formed at the brand new Y-kampus premises at the University of Tampere.

“As experts in community development, we offer our diverse pool of project know-how in environmental and urban planning through an array of services ranging from quick idea workshops to full-scale project implementation,” Hatakka explains.

Fresh perspectives and the illustrative collection and presentation of data are Regio’s hallmarks. This is a group that does not shy away from experimentation, and is a firm believer in peer learning. Although Hatakka says none of those involved had prior business experience, setting up a cooperative presented itself as a natural continuation to their studies.

“Entrepreneurship sounds like a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Our idea began with a good group of people. Our studies involved a lot of project-oriented work, and the teamwork was rewarding and productive. Coming up to graduation, we started thinking it would be fun to keep working on projects together alongside our other jobs and share the new skills we learn through our work,” Hatakka says.


Diverse expertise creates opportunities

There is no denying that a cooperative group is well suited to the current needs of the job market. According to Hatakka, Regio has sparked plenty of interest.

“Tasks in environmental and regional policy are increasingly project-oriented, and the competition in the field is fierce. Regio’s competitive advantages are diverse expertise, flexibility, and speed. We’re really agile in our ability to take on new projects, and we can work through them on a tight schedule.

The group has already completed its first project related to the City of Tampere tram project, and the cooperative is in the registration phase. By putting their own idea on the line, the group’s members have gained valuable work experience and a wealth of new contacts.

“So far, entrepreneurship has been a process of identifying, commercializing, and marketing our skills. Learning an entrepreneurial attitude is a great asset in any work, even if you aren’t planning to set up your own business,” Hatakka summarizes.


A small start is still a start

It is a good idea to put words into action even if you have no training in running a business. According to Hatakka, any field is suitable for entrepreneurship – all you need is imagination and an open mind. She is also quick to praise the support and tips provided by Y-kampus.

“You should start working on your idea in small steps that work for you. For us, setting up a cooperative was a safe way to get going. Entrepreneurship takes many forms, and even something small can grown into something big. Your confidence will increase step by step, and your idea will become stronger and clearer. And there’s nothing stopping you from changing your path if you need to,” Hatakka says as encouragement to all potential entrepreneurs.