Ferenc Vilisics from Hungary was told that Finnish people would not buy raw sausages. He did not believe this and founded a company producing raw sausages that is known for its premium quality.
The shop, located in Punavuori, Helsinki, looks so interesting you just have to peek inside. There, the customer is warmly greeted by the owner, Ferenc Vilisics from Hungary. His company, Feri’s Sausages, has been producing raw sausages in Helsinki since 2015.
But how on earth did a researcher at the University of Helsinki and doctor in environmental science end up as an entrepreneur and producer of artisan sausages?
“They weren’t awarding any new research grants anymore, and I ended up unemployed. I worked in green area maintenance for a while and hatched an idea of my own business at the same time.
Ferenc Vilisics has always had a passion for food. The handmade sausages became so popular during a pop-up restaurant event that he decided to build a business around them.
“I received a particularly warm welcome at the TE office when I stated I wanted to be self-employed as an entrepreneur. They also helped me with founding the company and applying for start-up assistance. I also attended the training sessions on entrepreneurship,” Vilisics says.
No compromises on quality
When Ferenc Vilisics was charting the market potential of raw sausages in Finland, the feedback he received was not very encouraging.
“I was told Finnish people do not understand raw sausages or like spicy food. I didn’t give up, since in my personal bubble, the feedback was the opposite. People were buying my sausages and wanted more. I was also convinced about my product, personally.”
REKO, a sales and distribution model for local food, brought Ferenc Vilisics’ raw sausages to the attention of consumers living in Uusimaa more broadly. Vilisics is proud to say he was one of the first local food producers featured in REKO. Now, the sausages are sold in various shops, and the company employs three people full-time and one person part-time.
“Running a business has required perseverance and sacrifices – especially time. I’ve learned by doing. As someone who has experienced unemployment, it’s particularly great to be able to offer work to others. If I could go back in time, I’d invest in an employee earlier. It frees up time for developing the business.”
Ferenc Vilisics is currently looking for larger production facilities and investors who believe in the raw sausage business. He is planning to enter the market in the entirety of Finland, the Baltic region and Sweden. However, two things will always remain the same.
“I’ll never compromise on quality. My sausages will always be handmade using fresh premium ingredients. I’d rather raise the quality level than start competing on price. Also, the company will always have some humour in what it does, as well as a face: a bearded Hungarian man the customers can contact personally if they wish.”
Valuable help for an entrepreneur
Of the customers of NewCo Helsinki’s business advisory services, 38 per cent have an immigrant background. According to Senior Specialist Toivo Utso, they often encounter challenges in receiving funding or acquiring business facilities.
“The most common reasons include the lack of security or guarantor, short banking history or the lack of a permanent residence permit. Filling in the forms and applications may also be difficult since official documents are usually required in either Finnish or Swedish,” Utso says.
Toivo Utso encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to contact the enterprise agency of their own municipality as early as possible. This will provide them with a good foundation for the business and save them a lot of trouble that could have been avoided.
“You’re doing things in the wrong order if you register your company first and then start thinking about what to do and how to find customers. In the worst case scenario, people buy an existing company or business, and only come to the business advisory services to ask for help afterwards.
Enterprise agencies provide low-threshold guidance for the ins and outs of starting a company, applying for start-up assistance, preparing a business plan, marketing and many other topics that aspiring entrepreneurs may be puzzled about.
“There are extensive entrepreneurship guides available online and in various languages. In Helsinki, you can also attend business information events in English, Estonian, Russian and Arabic, in addition to Finnish,” Utso says.
Based on his own experiences, Ferenc Vilisics provides two pieces of advice to entrepreneurs with an immigrant background.
“Study Finnish, at least enough to know the basics. Customers will appreciate you trying to speak their language. Learn about Finnish culture and the things that matter to Finnish people. You need to know what things like Christmas celebrations, Easter mämmi and May Day mead mean to Finnish people. Understanding the culture will also help you with your business.”
Support for entrepreneurship
NewCo Helsinki’s business advisors provide confidential business advisory services to lend a hand to entrepreneurs who are starting a new business and developing their operations. Check out our free-of-charge business advisory services.