Helsinki is a smart place for a smart city company

90 Day Finn Jaime Alvarez got a chance to experience the happiest country in the world. He liked it so much he decided to stay in Helsinki and start a business.

Peter Forsgard

“Finland has the right identity around the world for our company” – Jaime Alvarez

When Jaime Alvarez and his family arrived in Finland for the 90 Day Finn programme, his four-year-old daughter was suspicious.

“Daddy, where are we?” she asked.

“We’ve landed in Helsinki,” Jaime answered.

“Then where is the snow?”

Jaime laughs as he recounts the story. “It was July!” he says.

Jaime’s daughter had to wait a few months, but she finally got to experience Helsinki snow. The 90 Day Finn programme began in the summer, but the Alvarez family enjoyed Finland so much they decided to stay.

Building a better future

Jaime calls himself an “Anticipation Specialist”. He helps companies and governments to understand the different ways in which we anticipate and plan for the future, so they can choose different approaches when the ones they use are not working. He and his business partner Andro Lindsay were developing a company to help build smart and sustainable cities when Andro told Jaime about the 90 Day Finn programme.

When Andro explained our business idea to Helsinki Partners, they told Business Finland. Business Finland was enthusiastic about it, so I talked to my family about applying for a startup residence permit in Finland. Then the 90 Day Finn programme incorporated me as a full member.

Jaime Alvarez – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Co-founder at 100 Thousand Million

Jaime’s wife Leonor Menares is a teacher and was interested in participating in Finland’s world-renowned education system. And their kids – aged four and six – were ready for any adventure.

We wanted to move when the kids are younger. We want them to grow up as global citizens, learning different languages and experiencing life in different cultures.

Jaime Alvarez – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Co-founder at 100 Thousand Million

Perfect place for an innovative company

Jaime, Andro and their business partner Alberto Scherb believed that Helsinki was the perfect place to base their company.

Finland is a leader when it comes to sustainable smart cities. Technology is very important, but although Finland is a global leader in many technologies, what sets Finland apart is the governance of cities. Neighbourhoods are diverse, not segregated. Municipalities encourage the participation of citizens in decision-making.

Jaime Alvarez – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Co-founder at 100 Thousand Million

Jaime and his partners received help from Helsinki Partners and other specialists to register their company 100 Thousand Million, open bank accounts and prepare for their business of building and implementing a methodology to create sustainable smart cities.

Be strong and humble

Finland has the right identity around the world for our company. If we were based in a big country people might be unsure of our intentions. But Finland has an identity of trustworthiness all over the world. Identity is crucial for our vision.

Jaime Alvarez – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Co-founder at 100 Thousand Million

Finns also have a reputation around the world of being quiet and humble. They might have good ideas, so the stereotype goes, but Finns are no good at selling those ideas abroad. Is this a bad character trait?

“On the contrary, Finnish humbleness is a strength!” Jaime exclaims. “You don’t have to cut through bullshit when you talk to a Finn. Finns are honest and if they say something, they mean it. Finnish humbleness is an unexploited asset.”

Liveable Helsinki

Jaime and his family were open to the possibility of moving permanently to Helsinki even before they arrived, but things went so well their decision to stay was easy to make. They are now embracing life in Helsinki.

Leonor Menares enrolled in an intensive Finnish-language course. Jaime participated in the Slush conference to meet potential impact-focused investors for 100 Thousand Million. His two kids are enrolled in kindergarten and fitting in well.

Helsinki is attractive for adults with kids. There is a great quality of life. The city is walkable and peaceful, and you have access to the best public transportation and education. The public education is better here than in the best private schools in other places around the world.

Jaime Alvarez – 90 Day Finn (2021 programme) & Co-founder at 100 Thousand Million

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