The early years: Laying the foundation for Bravedo’s culture and identity

Part 1 of a 4-part series — Grow or die: How Bravedo developed its growth & leadership philosophy

Posted by By Bravedo Dec 14, 2018 12:48:42 PM


We sincerely don't mean to be pompous in writing a four-part series on our own story. Instead, we're aiming for transparency. How Bravedo ended up where we are today is a story consisting of many serendipitous and eventful chapters written over our 20-year history. Today, we don't really see Bravedo as a company in the traditional sense of the word. It's a group of companies - some of which are groups of companies within that said group of companies... We know! If you're not familiar with how and why we became the Bravedo of today, it can seem a little complicated. To those who know how it all came to be, it makes perfect sense. To shed light on the matter, we ended up writing our story in a longer-than-usual format so that anyone interested in getting acquainted with the twists and turns of our path from 1999 to 2019 is able to do so. 

The story begins

Bravedo’s story first began in 1999 in Helsinki, Finland. Two childhood friends came up with a business idea based on their personal experience working construction jobs. The two saw the desperate need for reliable and skilled construction employees—construction site managers were seriously struggling to recruit qualified workers.

In the days between Christmas and New Year, they leveraged their extensive network of skilled workers and founded Barona—a business which would become the largest private employment agency in Finland within 15 years. It was also the starting of a business that laid the groundwork for the Bravedo community we have today.

The motto of the time was: happy employees, happy customers.

Expansion into new business sectors and the low hierarchy mindset

Barona’s management style was intuitively agile from the start. Operations quickly expanded from the construction industry to logistics, manufacturing, office employees, and affordable housing. Today, Barona serves clients in many different business sectors - each an agile business unit, with decision-making made as close to its customers as possible. So already in the very early years, we established a philosophy of minimal hierarchy as a guiding principle.

Expanding the service offering to accommodation services was a natural step. Construction employees working temporarily in a different city needed affordable housing: hotels were too expensive and rental apartments were too permanent. To fill the gap, Forenom was established. Today, with CEO Johannes Kangas, Forenom is the leading flexible accommodation solutions provider in the Nordics!

Our grow or die mentality

The grow or die mentality is still ingrained in our current culture as it was such a vital part of our success in the early years. It took a lot of hard work to grow in the mid 90s when the private employment market was emerging as a brand new field of business in Finland.  

At the time, sales was all about cold calling. Though we may scoff at this tactic today, the can-do, no-feat-too-big mentality from way back then is something we remain proud of and still value greatly.  

Key to success: A specialized service concept

Specialization was also one of the guiding principles from the very early days. Barona decided early on to create specialized service units for different business sectors. The idea was that in this way, customers would always be dealing with an expert in their field when working with Barona. While competitors offered general recruiting services, Barona gained competitive advantage by differentiating its services into separate business sectors.

Barona realized right away that the unique service concept was crucial in order to stand out in the market, increase profitability, and best serve its customers, employees and job applicants.

Stay tuned for part two of the Bravedo story where we’ll look more closely at our culture of customer centricity and how we empower our customers to achieve their business goals.