Aspiring IT Entrepreneur: A moment with Henry

Biography

Name: Henry Niiranen

Birthday: August 1986, soon 24 years old.

Education: Metropolia Business School, European Business Administration

Occupational History:
Traffic & Driving training for Liikenneturva,
Several customer service oriented jobs,
At the moment employed by Nokia, as a Communications Team Assistant.
Own enterprise Stargaze Online :

http://www.stargazeonline.com

“A Web Community Management company.

We focus mainly in the creation of new community ideas and then go through the whole process of making them real.”
Hobbies: Music in all its forms, Skateboarding, computers and internet.
Henry’s Arctic index description: Henry Niiranen is the founder of Puuha.net online community, a business student and an internet enthusiast.

1. What is Puuha.net?

Puuha.net is a Finnish online community based on the idea that most of the tasks we are unable to do by ourselves can be done by the surrounding local community.

http://www.puuha.net

The community provides its users with a great tool to seek help for day to day tasks and look for work.

It is important to have a place where the task announcement is not lost in enormous flow of unrelated information. The user also benefits from the continuous marketing of the community, so there is no need to worry about attracting the people after posting the task.

2. Where did you get the idea for the site?

The idea took shape mainly from three things.
1.) People are unwilling to use and pay for professional services for many small household tasks, which their surrounding local community could do faster and more inexpensively.
2) The economic downturn, which led to high unemployment rates.
3) Meanwhile the local population is getting more and more isolated, the online communities attract people to connect with each other more than ever. I hope that by using online communities as a tool, we could bring people together in the offline world too.

I sincerely think there is a need to get people realize the power of communities, let them be online or offline. We can really get help to our day to day life, it is not just all about entertainment.

3. Did you do all the work yourself? What tools did you use? What did you have to do to get the site functional and business rolling?

All the work for the community is done by me, with occasional help of my dear friends.

The idea got its current shape from numerous conversations with friends and professionals of many different fields.  The main tool to use in a project like this is communication. By communicating with people that have more experience I got an overall view of the situation and advice on what tools to actually use.

There was quite a big learning curve to go thru the process of creating the site, but I managed with help of my friends, online tutorials and PHP & MySQL guidebook. I decided to use Drupal as a Content Management System for the community, as it provides great variety of readymade solutions to apply to any web project.  It took around 300 hundred hours of learning and programming to get the actual site rolling. Much more time was spent for the idea development.

In my case the steps were something like this:
1) Formulate the idea
2) Look for possible ways to actually do the site
3) Select the tool that best fits the task
5) Make the site
6) Find a good webhosting service to host your site and put your site online

If only it would be that simple. Then we have to consider all the legal, marketing, monetizing and all the other aspects of well performed community management. You want to people to find you, to stay, and bring more people in. Give value to people. There are many good free tools to help you achieve some of these, such as Google Analytics, Google Adwords and Google Adsense.

4. Do you have previous experience on hosting websites, coding etc?

I don’t really have almost any experience on hosting websites before this project. I have done some general programming as a hobby with C# and C++. and some robotics programming, but nothing significant.

So I can tell you, that starting a business like this is at least 80% matter of motivation and having a good idea. Hosting websites and programming is not really anything like rocket science.

5. Have you considered a career as an entrepreneur, possibly around IT or websites?

I have already taken small steps in order to get into this field. In March I started my own business, Stargaze Online, which is concentrated in online community management and generation and execution of new ideas. I have also a couple of other projects going on at the moment, in addition to Puuha.net.

http://www.stargazeonline.com

6. How did you promote the site?

Starting from the same places where I got most of my ideas. Different web related seminars offer a great place to talk to people about your ideas and get feedback. It was also very useful to tell about the idea to my friends, which have been using the service and telling about it to their friends.

It is very important to have a presence in all the places that people are. In my case I started up a Facebook fan page, and linked it to the Twitter account of my site. Also a very good place to promote your service is thru a common conversation in different conversation forums like Suomi24 and similar. In all communications it is very important to remember to be very transparent and truthful, in order to avoid negative buzz.

After all these free methods had been used, I signed up for a Google Adwords account to advertise Puuha.net in Google search engine and in its affiliate network. I’m currently looking at the paid services of Facebook to boost my visibility.

7. Did you do preliminary research?

I spent days googling for similar services from Finland and all around the world. The greatest research was conducted by talking to hundreds of people about the idea and asking their feedback. In this case I didn’t do a very well organized preliminary research, but approached the issues and questions with a very open mind thru discussions.

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That’s all, folks! Thank you Henry for your time and best of luck to your entrepreneurial career!

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