The raw idea of HUONE came while I was working as a secretary of the Ambassador of Malaysia in Helsinki. I noticed the challenge with finding the right venue for business meetings and events. However, it wasn’t until I started hospitality studies at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, the pieces came together. I chose an entrepreneurship track in the last year of my study, and it involved writing up the business plan for Events Hotel concept, which evolved into today’s ‘HUONE’
However, I didn’t think that I could just ‘become an entrepreneur’ right after I graduated. So, just like many, I applied for jobs, hoping to get some work experience first but couldn’t get any interviews. It was the time when fluency in Finnish was a common basic requirement in the job market.
So, I had to create my own job.
As an entrepreneur, you’re on a rollercoaster ride and there’s bound to be bumpy patches.
Being an entrepreneur, you feel like challenges never end. In the beginning, the biggest challenge revolved around making people believe in me and the business idea. I have heard countless no’s when I first started HUONE.
The investment I was looking for was around 800,000 euros, not 40k or 50k, which was a BIG sum. On top of that, there were no benchmarkable concepts out there and I was a young girl, a fresh-graduate, immigrant, with very limited Finnish language skills, without any previous startup experience. So, you can see why getting someone to believe in me or the idea was difficult.
Challenges continued such as renovation going wrong & over budget, delays and running out of working capital. They all led up to HUONE fighting two bankruptcy cases during the first few years of running our pilot unit in Finland. The hardships have always been there, in different forms, for the past 9 years I’ve been an entrepreneur.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
We have had to fight hard against the Covid-19 pandemic since the beginning of 2020, and we are still fighting. Company’s financial impacts aside, the biggest challenge for me personally, was about people; having to go through the furloughs and layoffs was the thing I lost most sleep about. I learned a lesson about power communication once again, especially on the power of ‘active’ communication. During the past 18 months, I have focused on two things: transparency and over-communicating. I didn’t have all the answers, nor clear exit plans, but I’ve always tried to be honest. and share things as they are.
Sometimes entrepreneurship can change you as a person.
As an entrepreneur, you’re on a rollercoaster ride, there’s bound to be some bumpy patches. One has to accept that there will always be people who challenge you, and those challenging situations. Stability is not meant for startup entrepreneurs.
Being an entrepreneur gave me a golden opportunity to get to meet and get to know a lot of brilliant people; colleagues, investors, customers, suppliers, friends, and most importantly, my team. To be honest, I think it’s close to impossible to build something alone. I used to think that ‘I wish I could multiply myself by 10 and run this company’ because I thought it would be the most effective way to move things forward. However, founders need diversity and people who are not afraid to challenge them, to bring different perspectives into the big picture.
Sometimes, I read the first business plan I wrote for HUONE to remind myself of the ‘Evon’ who started this all. Running a business requires making compromises at times and sometimes entrepreneurship can change you as a person. So, reading the first business plan helps me to keep true to myself, and to stay always grateful for those who helped me along the way.
Read more about HUONE at huone.events.