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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre

Finnmark

Founder: Jake Newport (Archaeology BA & MA 2013/2015)

Business start date: March, 2015

Current team size: 7

Website: finnmarksauna.com

What does your Business do?

Finnmark Ltd are the UK’s Finnish sauna specialists. We fuse modern, hi-tech design techniques, such as virtual and augmented reality, 3D modelling and laser scanning with traditional Finnish sauna construction techniques, such as proper ventilation, vapour sealing, insulation, heaters with a large stone capacity to deliver the highest quality, authentically Finnish sauna installations.

After working out in Finland and knowing many Finn’s, I came to realise that what most spas, health clubs and sport centres in the UK called ‘sauna’ was about as far from the real deal as you can get. Most Finn’s would refuse to step inside calling them “stuffy and nauseating” ovens. When you have a proper Finnish sauna, it is something you enjoy over the course of an hour or two, sometimes a whole afternoon or even a day and not something that is simply tolerated for 10 minutes after a workout. There is a large amount of research that continues to be published in well established medical journals across the world about the health benefits of sauna, such as significantly reducing your risk of Dementia and risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as positively impacting those suffering with mental health issues. All this research is undertaken on Finn’s using traditional Finnish sauna’s.

What we at Finnmark have found, is that many Europeans that call the UK their home, and increasingly a large contingent of cosmopolitan Brit’s, all who have tried “proper sauna”, know exactly what they are missing and are insistent on getting it right. We also found the UK marketplace was awash with cheap Chinese equipment and cheap Belarusian and Estonian timber with suspicious provenance. To make our highly durable, high quality, authentic Finnish sauna, we only use genuine Finnish equipment and sustainably sourced Finnish materials. With 8000+ years of sauna heritage, the Finn’s know exactly how to do sauna properly - because of this, we are kept very busy!

What made you decide to start up your own business?

A wiser man than me said: “Don’t start a business to make money, start a business to change the world and money will be a pleasant side effect”.

I found a cause I believed in, an ideological mission I could get behind and an outlet for my enthusiasm and creativity, which with hard work and the collaboration of an excellent team, became a successful business.

What impact have you achieved to date?

We continue to grow as a business and educate people about the physical and mental health benefits of doing sauna properly. We are exhibiting at the London Design Fair and giving a lecture at the World Sauna Forum in Finland this September (2018). Given how much of a positive impact doing sauna right has on a person, I often think if we can improve just one person’s health and well-being, we are doing a good thing in this world. Knowing we have already positively impacted hundreds of peoples’ lives in this way is what gives our whole team fulfilment!

What challenges have you overcome along the way?

Whilst all business owners aspire to be a “One Minute Manager”, every day presents challenges. It’s trite but learning to say no and when to walk away are really important lessons. Stress tolerance and adaptability are essential if you want to run a successful business.

What is your key tip for Durham University students and graduates currently in the process of setting up a business?

Patience is important, especially if you are trying to start up lean. Learn about the Good, Cheap, Fast triangle – you can only ever have two of these in anything you do, organise or sell.