From Finland to Chicago: Why this startup decided to start its global expansion in the Windy City

by James Risley
December 21, 2016

In Finland, transparency is a cultural norm. Everything from your phone number to your tax return is part of the public record, helping to break down social barriers and make the country more united.

However, that cultural mindset doesn’t always translate to the business world.

That’s where NOOA comes in. Its software helps businesses increase transparency at an organizational level — and now, the Finnish company is bringing that ethos to the U.S. with a North American headquarters in Chicago.

“We selected Chicago because the atmosphere is more like the Scandinavian atmosphere than for example in Silicon Valley or New York,” said co-founder and CEO Tom Grönstrand. “Our customers are big corporations and we are in the B2B markets, so there are lots of good customers here.”

The startup already has big-name customers, including a large insurance company in Chicago, signed up to use its software, which allows customers to set actionable goals for strategic changes in a clear and highly visible format. Team members can get rewards for completing goals, allowing them to buy things like lunches, gym memberships or other employer-selected goals.

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NOOA is one of a handful of startups kicking off their international expansion in Chicago through the Sente accelerator program. These startups are brought from emerging tech ecosystems like Finland and Turkey to the U.S. in order to test global growth potential.

With its start in Finland, NOOA was able to test its product, work out the kinks and even get it in customer hands. But by coming to the U.S., it is able to tap into a larger market with more need for its software.  

NOOA spent the last three months preparing to enter the market, including doing some market research and meeting with customers. Now, the company is looking for funding to build up its branding and build up a U.S. team next year.

Image via NOOA

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