Teemu Karenius, the co-founder and CEO of Yonoton tells us about digital ordering services for the hospitality and entertainment sector.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Teemu Karenius: Our native, Finland, has not been hit by the Covid-19 as bad as some other countries. Currently, the situation is getting a little worse. Considering the circumstances, my family and I are doing pretty well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Yonoton.
Teemu Karenius: My background is firmly from the media side. Before starting my own IT company in 2015, I worked for 16 years in the cross-media business. First as a radio host, TV reporter, and journalist on the largest tabloid in Finland. I then began 8 years as a Head of Digital at MTV Finland. Yonoton was established with my co-founders after we saw that the time was finally right for the digital ordering and service platforms. We first kicked off our business from the sports sector, having most of Finland’s professional teams as our clients. We also have a strong sports investor base as our early-stage business angels include current and past athletes such as Sami Hyypiä, Jari Litmanen, Teemu Pukki, and Lukas Hradecky. Currently, we operate mainly within the restaurant, hotel, and theme park industries.
How does Yonoton innovate?
Teemu Karenius: Yonoton is the leading expert in digital ordering services for the hospitality and entertainment sector. We are a true Omni-platform that enables companies to run their daily business digitally, based on centralized data. Yonoton’s versatile SaaS (Software as a Service) platform boasts quality and provides a truly omnichannel solution for its clients to run their business in a modern way that saves operational costs and generates extra revenue. Our multinational clients improve their business by using Yonoton-built software products such as mobile applications, PoS systems, digital ordering management, self-service kiosks, and webshops.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Teemu Karenius: The pandemic has been hard to cope with for many of our employees since we more or less work remotely. In general, Yonoton, fortunately, operates in the sector that builds digital tools for companies to overcome Covid-19. To give you an example, we have innovative clients in the theme park industry that have banned all card and cash payments. Mobile payment is the only option. There are several similar cases from the restaurant industry, where digital ordering and payments have been the only way to order take-aways or home deliveries. We are super happy to be able to help our new and current customers to cope with the difficult situation. In the bigger picture, the digitalization of different services and processes has taken a giant leap forward. This “forced” renewal will eventually be seen as a positive once we eventually get past the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Teemu Karenius: We didn’t have to make tough choices as such. Within the high-end technology products, the timing is crucial, and you always need a bit of luck as well. This was our momentum. We expanded our business to four new countries and tripled our turnover. Right now we are about to launch a new line of products with the help of our partners.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Teemu Karenius: The usual video conferencing tools and accelerating use of Slack etc. Our sales and marketing team has been busy taking into use new digital platforms that we can use to present our services to new clients. Even if we have always considered ourselves very lean. Also, we have been forced to renew our company culture to become even more effective. This is related to different processes that enable us to deliver, e.g., a fully customized mobile application within weeks.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Teemu Karenius: Yonoton competes mainly with the traditional IT service companies and companies that do plain white label products with very little option for customization. Our unique market position is right in the middle. Our robust omnichannel platform is used within hundreds of locations and is trusted by the world’s largest hospitality service providers. We want to provide a perfect platform for various partners to implement their service into Yonoton in order to generate centralized data and better service for customers. Instead of staring at competitors, our focus is to partner with companies who share our vision of providing easier digital ordering services.
Your final thoughts?
Teemu Karenius: As a super social person. I have to say; I miss travelling and meeting all of you face to face. I wish you all strength during these hard times, stay healthy and let’s behave responsibly.
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