Nerdsbay is a Helsinki-based HR startup set up by two Russian-born ICT and HR specialists who want to help Finnish tech companies find international ICT professionals. The startup is also developing ICT technology that will make hiring of foreign employees easier.
There is constant demand for ICT expertise among the many tech companies in Greater Helsinki. They need to complement their existing workforce with new talent, and non-availability of high-quality talent can be a serious obstacle to their growth and competitiveness.
Nerdsbay is a talent attraction company set up by two Russian-born ICT and HR professionals who want to meet the existing demand by helping Finnish tech companies to source ICT talent from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and other former Soviet Union countries. Nerdsbay helps ICT professionals from these countries to find jobs in Finland, assisting them with visa and residence permit applications and the relocation process.
This business idea is in line with the Finnish government’s Talent Boost programme, which boosts the immigration and mobility of international senior specialists, employees, students and researchers in order to meet the growing demand for special expertise not always available in Finland. In the long run, the aim is to enhance the Finnish economy.
Business idea from a talent attraction event
“I got the business idea for Nerdsbay when I was helping Helsinki Business Hub to organise talent attraction events in Russia, one in Saint Petersburg in 2018 and another one in Moscow in 2019,” says Nerdsbay’s co-founder, ICT specialist Yulia Zhukova.
“Russia has a big ICT talent pool, and many ICT professionals attended these events. We gave them information on Finland, Finnish companies and the Finnish lifestyle, and several of them ended up finding jobs in Finland. It was during those events that I saw there was a market for Russian and international ICT talent in Finland,” she explains.
All-female founding team
Nerdsbay was established in October 2019 in Helsinki by Yulia Zhukova and Olga Koivistoinen, two dynamic Russian-born ICT and HR professionals. An all-female founding team is still something of a rarity in the tech startup world. The combined skill sets of the two co-founders make them ideally suited for running an HR business that works with ICT specialists and tech firms.
Yulia Zhukova, one of the co-founders, has a strong project and product management background and extensive experience in ICT. A graduate of the prestigious tech-oriented ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, she has previously co-founded a Russian online transfer booking service that became an instant success. She has also worked as a product manager for several Russian companies both in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.
Olga Koivistoinen, the second co-founder, graduated from the University of Helsinki with a master’s degree in Economics. She has extensive work experience in the financial sector and knows her way around the Finnish business environment. She speaks Finnish fluently.
Getting started in Helsinki
“It took us two months to get our company established. I enjoyed working with Helsinki Business Hub, who helped us to land smoothly in Helsinki and introduced us to the necessary contacts. I was helped especially by Maria Hartikainen, who was my contact person at Helsinki Business Hub,” Zhukova says.
“Maria put me in touch with Pauli Noronen, who works at Business Finland. He was a valuable contact with a friendly approach who provided us with useful advice and many good ideas.”
During the company founding process in autumn 2019, Helsinki was promoted via a campaign called City as a Service (CaaS), which Zhukova found very useful. Today, International House Helsinki is a similar online information hub for foreigners wishing to work and settle in Helsinki area.
“Today, we are doing market research via our temporary website IT Finland. It acts as a recruitment channel through which applicants can submit their CVs and applications. We are working with international companies who have English as their internal language, so the applicants do not have to master the Finnish language,” Zhukova says.
To expand its business, Nerdsbay is also developing software for automation of HR processes to facilitate hiring of foreign employees. Concrete results from the ongoing development project are expected in autumn 2020. The user-friendly automated HR platform will allow employers to hire new employees without having to handle their CVs, which will simplify the hiring process.
“IT Finland is only a temporary working name. In the future, both our talent sourcing business and our HR platform will operate under the Nerdsbay brand,” Zhukova adds.
For the time being, the startup staff consists of the two co-founders. But if business starts blooming, they hope to hire more people. Nerdsbay also has a team of six software developers based in Moscow, used as a shared resource.