Lappeenranta attracts foreign university students every year with its study opportunities of high quality and its entrepreneurial atmosphere. Abhishek Jayaprakash and Soumyajit Chatterjee from India fell in love with the city, its closeness to nature and the way everything you need is only a short distance away. The entrepreneurs established the Henkaus company offering health technology products in Lappeenranta.
It all started with a university project
Jayaprakash and Chatterjee came to Lappeenranta in 2016 to study in the master’s degree programme in industrial engineering and management in the LUT University. The excellence of teaching in particular inspired them to apply to Lappeenranta.
“I wanted to come here because I had heard a lot of people talk about the high quality of teaching. In addition, studying in the university was free at the time, so applying to Lappeenranta felt like the best option,” Chatterjee says.
Jayaprakash and Chatterjee have been working full time in their company Henkaus since October 2019. They came up with the idea of establishing a company in a project by the LUT University. The options were to use one of LUT’s existing patents or invent something of their own. The project resulted in their first usable product, as well as the company’s business plan and strategy.
“The University played a big role in us becoming entrepreneurs. The courses focused specifically on establishing an entrepreneurial approach. The environment is also great for entrepreneurs, because everyone knows everyone in Lappeenranta,” Chatterjee says.
Help despite the language barrier
Henkaus is a health technology company that creates contact-free and wireless devices for monitoring important vital functions, such as pulse and breathing. The entrepreneurs say that they have received a lot of support from the City of Lappeenranta for establishing the company.
“When we started, we contacted Wirma first. We couldn’t speak Finnish very well at the time, but despite the language barrier, we were able to develop the business idea together with Wirma,” Jayaprakash says. In addition to Wirma, the entrepreneurs also contacted Business Finland and Business Mill. With the help of Business Mill’s contacts, Jayaprakash and Chatterjee were able to get startup funding that ensured that they could keep operating for six months.
“The City of Lappeenranta has been very helpful in every way. All parties communicate with each other, which helped us a great deal. Entrepreneurs can get help easily here,” Chatterjee says.
The company’s long-term goal is to become known for its health care monitoring solutions. Future customers may include assisted living facilities, hospitals and everybody who wants to monitor their health.
City life and nature in balance
Leisure time is an important balance for the everyday work of an entrepreneur, and in fact, Jayaprakash and Chatterjee often spend their weekends in the Sammonlahti field playing soccer. Meeting friends and going to the sauna are also an integral part of the entrepreneurs’ leisure time. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy different hobbies, especially in the summer.
“In Lappeenranta, the transition from the city to nature is seamless. If I leave my backyard and walk for 20 minutes, I’m in the middle of the forest. This is one of the best things in Lappeenranta. Here you can find the perfect balance between urban life and nature,” Chatterjee describes.
According to the entrepreneurs, Lappeenranta offers a wide variety of things to do. In addition to the vibrant harbour, the entrepreneurs have learned how the marketplace works and sampled the local delicacies:
“I was told that Vety (a snack named after hydrogen) is a specialty of Lappeenranta. It’s served in a glass, and I think that’s amazing. I can’t imagine that anyone could turn down a Vety and coffee,” Chatterjee laughs
Sauna and an atmosphere of trust
Jayaprakash and Chatterjee are interested in the Finnish sauna culture, but when the friends came to Finland, they did not understand its importance yet.
“It was only after the first time we went to the sauna that we understood why it’s an essential part of the Finnish culture,” Jayaprakash says.
For Jayaprakash and Chatterjee, who come from India, the lack of constant surveillance and the way people trust each other have been surprising and welcome. In Lappeenranta, you can always count on someone being there to help you.
“The Nordic atmosphere of trust is clearly visible in Lappeenranta. It’s refreshing to see how much people trust each other,” Chatterjee sums up.