Published 13. Sep. 2019

From Passion And Vision to 25 Years of International Business Matchmaking

In celebration of Management Events' 25th anniversary, we sat down with Olli Muurainen - the Founder and Chairman of Management Events, and took a look back at the very inception of the company.
Business
General
Strategy and Development

Creative, inspirational, passionate – the Founder and Chairman of Management Events is the epitome of a dynamic entrepreneur, burning with unending enthusiasm and excitement for face-to-face events. To commemorate 25 years of successful business matchmaking around the world, we journeyed down the emotion-charged road of the company’s beginnings, and snatched a glimpse of the future.

1. Do you remember how it all started 25 years ago? How did you come by the idea to establish an events company?

I was sixteen when I started making events in Helsinki. Nobody knew Olli Muurainen at that time, but everybody knew DJ Captain Freedom, my alter ego. Together with friends, we would organize techno raves in the outskirts of the Finnish capital.

I remember like it was yesterday – people mingling, dancing and having fun, and the air filled with music, laughter and chitchats. I was having fun as well, with these five hundred people I didn’t know, playing with the lights and the beat of techno music. I saw smiles on their faces and in their eyes, and I smiled too, the feeling of satisfaction lingering on until the early hours of the morning.

Every event taught us something new, and we came to realize that what we had started for fun turned out to be a very good business. And just like that, I had found my calling – I was an entrepreneur.

The magic that happens in face-to-face is unbeatable. It’s like a stunning cocktail mixed with excitement, ambition and freedom. Management Events was founded 25 years ago based on the big dream that we could bring that magic to the world of business events. Our strategy was, and still is, based on 1) customer service, 2) good value 3) and great leadership.

2. How was the events industry like back then? How was it different from today?

Lights, music, speakers and roundtables, they are pretty much the same with what we had in our events back in 1994 – only one or two notches smarter and bigger. But the event’s production at the site hasn’t changed much.

What has changed, and in a revolutionary way, is how we build up the concepts of the events, and how we market them.

25 years ago, we were licking stamps and carrying invitation letters to the post office. Today, we make use of social media, web-based marketing tools and applications before, during and after the events. We are extending the event outside the physical venue and with a longer post-event period by sharing aftermovies and other inspiring content. This is the biggest change in the events industry since 1994.

3. Looking back now, after 25 years in business, what do you consider your main achievement? What makes you proud?

The biggest achievement for Management Events is the leap out of our home base. We thought that if we could succeed in inspiring introverted Finns to network, we may have created a product that could be sold to other markets too.

We did our first event in Stockholm in 2005. I was there, of course, with our team. It looked pretty good, but we weren’t sure if our guests felt the same. Then I saw their feedback, and I started to cry.

It was exactly the same message that we got from spontaneous feedback in Finland. Our Swedish guests were thanking and telling us in many ways why the event was so good, and I was crying tears of happiness. That is probably the greatest moment of my career so far. I realized that day that my baby, my company, was an international company. I also saw our people growing – someone joining us as a rookie, taking up a manager position two years later, then leading a country and rising to high positions in the management team a few years after.

It’s all about the people. I am very proud of them and my company, taking care of our rising stars and helping them grow.

Read the full interview and discover B2B events industry insights in #MEblog.