In just over one year, Dain Studios has launched its data, analytics and artificial intelligence business in Helsinki and grown from a company of three to a company of twelve employees. With its international client base, it will soon set up new studios in Berlin and Munich, and later possibly in other European locations.
Dain Studios’ roots are in Nokia, where its three founders – Ulla Kruhse-Lehtonen, Dirk Hofmann and Saara Hyvönen – once worked together on consumer data strategy, data science and analytics. All three left Nokia in 2012 and have since worked with numerous big corporations, including Sanoma, Deutsche Telekom and Volkswagen. But they kept in touch and eventually decided to set up their own business to help other companies with digital transformation. In March 2016, they registered Dain Studios in Finland and launched operations in Helsinki and Munich.
“We started our business in Helsinki, with me living and working from Munich, but from the beginning our plan was to set up actual studios in Germany and later in other locations around Europe,” says founding partner Dirk Hofmann.
A field of endless possibilities
The company’s business concentrates on two areas: consultancy services and analytics products.
“Launching Dain Studios was driven by our observation that there are so many exciting business opportunities in the field of digitalization, artificial intelligence, data science and big data. We felt that we could really leverage our background and experience to help others, as almost every industry is heavily impacted by digital transformation and data is the fuel for successful future business,” Hofmann says.
The three partners decided to start by building a team of exceptional talent in order to be able to work on exciting and challenging international projects, which in turn would attract more talented employees. They also wanted to develop a portfolio of their own products and stay independent, so they decided to finance the company themselves and use the initial money and insights from consultancy projects to start building their products and their team.
The company’s first product, developed in Finland, is a hotel recommendation engine for a German partner Traffics, a company operating Germany’s second largest B2B travel platform, serving hundreds of travel portals.
“Our engine can be added to individual travel websites as a micro service to provide the site with recommendation capabilities. Our partner currently uses the engine in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but the product is by no means limited to that region, and we intend to expand its functionality and intelligence as well as to offer it to other European companies and even beyond Europe,” says Dirk Hofmann.
Dain Studios started with three employees and is now a company of twelve. It is constantly looking for new talent. Most of its employees currently work in Helsinki but the German team will start growing in the coming months. In Finland, the company works for example with telecommunications companies and banks but its clients also include companies in the fields of traveling, media and consumer goods manufacturing.
“This year has been very exciting. Setting up a company in Helsinki was quite easy because of our background and our Nokia history. Helsinki Business Hub has supported us all along our journey by introducing us to potential partners and clients, connecting us to a vast ecosystem of public and private organizations and by helping us find office space. Their team is always available when we have questions or need support, and that has made our start much easier,” Hofmann says.
Dain Studios was also the first company accepted to Team Finland Augmented Intelligence – Artificial Intelligence campaign, which offers funding, market information and a network for artificial intelligence companies.
“There’s so much demand from interesting companies with interesting projects that it is actually a challenge to find talented employees fast enough to answer it. We are planning to further grow our Helsinki team, although it is difficult to say whether it will be 30, 50 or even more employees in the next two years. The competition for talent is tough, so we are seeking internationally and plan to work with universities to find and foster skillful people. We are also looking for more office space in Helsinki – for the third time already,” says Hofmann.
Dain Studios plans to launch its next studios in Berlin and Munich, as most of its international clients are currently in the German-speaking countries. Later, the company also plans to spread to other European cities and markets.
“Our first year has exceeded all our expectations and we believe that there are more exciting things in store for us.”
Text: Anu Jussila