Ville Virkki is HAMK’s alumni from International Business. He runs a very popular hostel and hotel in Tampere, Finland. Dream Hostel has been awarded many times and for example The Guardian magazine has chosen it in top 10 in European luxury hostel competition.
How did you end up in your current work situation? Why did you choose to become an entrepreneur?
This is the question I am asked most often and it is hard to give a simple answer. I learned to love travelling and other cultures while studying in an international school (HAMK). I took a year off from the school and traveled around the world, saw lot of good (and bad!) hostels and collected the idea. I still didn’t thought about entrepreneurship yet. When I came back, I saw many articles in a local newspaper about the lack of good hostels in Tampere. As a business student I started to think: ”I have the ideas and experience as a traveler and I have the knowledge gained from the school”. I started to take little steps and see, if a hostel really could be done.
The business plan, location, financing… everything was new to me, but I took one challenge at a time and solve it. Soon I realized that I had come pretty far from where I started and I had gained a huge amount of knowledge on the way. It took all together 3 years to get things up and running – of course it was not active process all the time. The main reason why it was so slow was the lack of funding – I was still a student at HAMK with no money at all and I had to do everything by myself.
What kind of things your work consists of?
It’s a cliche, but I do everything. This morning I have been preparing breakfast, answering to HAMK interview :), sending invoices, making reservations, helping out customers with various (and sometimes strange!) problems and entering reservations in to the system. It is 11am and I have been already planning our new business, I’ve been repeating ”Thanks, but no thanks!” to endless cold callers and preparing a presentation for my marketing and sales class tomorrow. So generally I do few things: all the management with a hotel manager, the business development and then all the basic, daily staff.
Where are you (and your company) going to be in 10 years?
We will have 2-5 properties in the key locations in Finland or Europe and we will be the most well-known hostel chain in Europe. Personally I have 5-10 new companies where I am involved with, all from other industries. I also have my MBA degree in my pocket.
Have you benefited from your studies at HAMK?
Studies at HAMK have helped me in various ways – first of all, it has given the base knowledge and foundation to learn more on business. (Note: this would have been MUCH more useful, if I would have understood the importance of the subjects at that time). It has given me a capability to naturally work in an international environment and strengthen my personal selling skills. I have also benefited from the vast business network – all my class mates, other students, teachers etc. So I have definitely benefited in many ways!
What was the best thing at HAMK? And what was the most challenging?
During the studies, I was pretty sure that the best thing was my great classmates and all the free time activities 🙂 but honestly, the best thing was to become an international professional. I was privileged to do my exchange studies in Miami, USA and my internship in Penang, Malaysia. Those experiences will last a lifetime and have taught me more than classroom studies ever could. I didn’t face lot of big challenges, unless you consider the mandatory Swedish language course or the problems with my original thesis commissioner.
What would you like to say people who consider applying to HAMK International Business? Any tips?
For me, HAMK was a jackpot and it still is very important place for me – I visit the campus monthly (we also have an office there). I think the most valuable tip would be to underline the fact that HAMK IB is a business school and you should approach it from that perspective. Be a professional and develop yourself all the time. Be curious. That’s how you get best out of HAMK.
Read more about HAMK International Business degree programme here.