Innovative Companies with Sustainable Business Models: Venuu Oy

Company profile

Name: Venuu Oy
Founded: 2013
Founders: Jasu Koponen, Jerome Saarinen, Emil Sågfors
Industry: Online portals
Main services: Search engine for finding venues
Sustainability: Venuu.fi enables event organizers to find and rent unused spaces in cities. By doing so Venuu Oy improves the use of already existing resources, which is an important part of the development towards a circular economy.

Idea and company history in brief

If you have always wanted to arrange a party in an oil silo, now’s your chance! Venuu.fi is a Finnish online service that makes it easy for event organizers to find venues and to rent spaces that would be difficult or impossible to find for outside users. Using the service is free for people trying to find a venue, while venue providers pay either a monthly subscription or a commission fee. The available spaces range from unused oil silos to empty office buildings, and from private saunas to coast guard patrol boats. This allows people to arrange events in some really wacky places! For example, check out this location.

I recently got a chance to interview one of the founders and the CEO of Venuu, Jasu Koponen. According to Koponen, the idea for Venuu emerged back in 2012, when he and Jerome Saarinen were arranging the Aalto Lunch Beat discos.

“I have always been interested in buildings and spaces. I saw some really inspiring spaces being used in events in Berlin, and I wanted to do something similar in Finland. Many of our ideas had to be canceled, however, because we couldn’t find any suitable venues”, says Koponen. Because finding venues for the Aalto Lunch Beat was very difficult and time-consuming, Koponen and Saarinen eventually got an idea of a website similar to Airbnb, but for event locations.

summer-of-startups-winner

Venuu winning the Summer of Startups in 2013

“There is a lot of information about potential venues online, but it’s all scattered up and hard to find. Furthermore, there are no good pictures about the venues, especially when comparing to Airbnb. We wondered why no one has already founded this kind of service and we eventually decided to do it ourselves”, Koponen says.

After winning the Aalto University Summer of Startups competition in 2013, the founders launched Venuu.fi in October same year. Today there are over 1300 spaces available for rent in Venuu.fi in Helsinki and Turku, Finland.

Koponen and his team have grand visions for Venuu. Aside from Airbnb, Koponen compares Venuu to Amazon.com and wants Venuu to become the marketplace for event organizers. In the future customers would also be able to have other necessary arrangements done via Venuu.fi. For example, if you’re planning a wedding, you’d be able to hire a wedding band, a dj and florists, find accommodations for guests and arrange catering through Venuu.fi.

Venuu Oy team in Oil Silo 469 in Helsinki, Laajasalo.

Currently there doesn’t seem to be much competition in Finland for Venuu. Search results for renting venues in Finland bring up sites like Saunatilat.fi, Kokouspaikat.com, and GoExperience.fi. However, these websites mostly just list existing service providers, while Venuu.fi allows anyone with a suitable event location to sign their space up for rent. International competitors include a US-based eVenues Inc and a UK-based Hire Space Ltd.

Business model: Sharing platform

Value proposition: End users: Find new and exciting venues quickly and without a hassle. Venue providers: By using Venuu you will reduce your risk and bring in more customers.
Customers: Venue providers and event organizers
Revenue generation logic: Venue providers pay a commission for each time a venue is rented via Venuu.fi.

Below is Accenture’s framework of 5 different circular economy business models. Based on this framework, Venuu has a sharing platform business model. A sharing platform is either an online or physical platform that facilitates the sharing of resources and decreases the overcapacity of assets. In Venuu’s case the company has developed an online sharing platform where individuals and companies can put up their vacant spaces for rent as event venues.

Accenture

Accenture’s 5 business models for circular economy. Source: Circular Advantage.

What makes Venuu.fi different from other sites that list out venue locations is the fact that Venuu allows individuals and companies that are not in the venue business to rent out their spaces for extra income. This is also highly important from a sustainability point of view: By putting existing buildings, boats, and other spaces to new use, the company increases the efficiency of these spaces and decreases the need to construct new buildings.

Companies such as Venuu.fi, Airbnb, BlaBlaCar and Uber have all found new uses for already existing assets, which decreases the need to create new ones. Unbuilt office spaces, hotels and cars save up resources, energy and carbon emissions. And although being less bad is not enough to create a sustainable economy, it is a good start! At the same time these services create new sources of revenue for both individuals and companies.

It is worth noting that Venuu also helps bring people together. When I asked about Venuu’s societal mission, Koponen paused for a moment and then gave the following answer:

“Often the best memories people have revolve around different life events. Whether it’s your wedding day, or that party where you found your life partner, or that one time at Slush when you finally found an investor for your venture, it’s these moments that we often come back to in our memories. If Venuu can help people come together and enjoy life more often instead of staring at their smart phones, I think we have done our job well.”

 Thanks for reading! Next one in the series will be Sharetribe.

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