In 2015, online fashion retail giant Zalando urgently needed to expand its tech team to support the company’s rapid growth and strategy of becoming a platform that connects the entire fashion supply chain. Just six months after making contact with Finpro’s Invest in Finland and Helsinki Business Hub, Zalando established its Helsinki Tech Hub in August 2015 in the trendy Punavuori district, a former industrial area close to the city centre.
“From day one, we received tremendous support from Helsinki Business Hub and Finpro’s Invest in Finland. They helped us to recruit staff and find a spot-on location, and put us in contact with the relevant people,” says Mark Lamik, Head of Tech Expansion, Zalando.
Top talent and a vibrant tech community
The decisive factors that attracted Zalando to invest in Helsinki were its pool of highly skilled tech talent, Finnish mobile expertise and the entrepreneurial spirit embodied by Finland’s vibrant startup scene. Zalando also wanted to join the thriving local tech community so Invest in Finland and Helsinki Business Hub introduced its management to the leading Finnish technology companies as well as the movers and shakers behind events like Slush and Arctic15.
“With this help we were able to access Helsinki’s startup and technology scene and become a part of the community. We received insight to an extensive network of contacts and were soon able to hire experienced seniors who were important for the progression of the tech hub,” says Lamik.
In November 2015, Zalando also announced a startup coaching program in Helsinki, opening the doors of its technology hub for young innovators.
“There is a really strong startup scene in Helsinki with good attitude and a lot of technology and design know-how. And we want to create even more buzz here.”
Zalando’s Helsinki Tech Hub focuses on consumer facing applications like mobile app development, user experience and design. After the tech hub was launched with just three employees, it has quickly grown to more than 70 professionals and moved to bigger premises in 2016.
Finnish newspaper Aamulehti recently reported that Helsinki Tech Hub is currently recruiting new software engineers, developers, UX experts and other staff at a rate of five people per month. The tech hub’s employees come from 22 countries, which shows that Helsinki is an attractive location for an international workforce. According to Lamik, Zalando’s goal is to have about 200 employees in Helsinki.