Veronica Deac, coming from an immigrant background, recognises that “In Finland, no often means maybe”
Veronica Deac has been an entrepreneur in Finland for seven years. She brought the Kangoo Jumps sport to Finland and bagged the Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjät Solo Entrepreneur of the Year 2023 award. (Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjien Vuoden yksinyrittäjä 2023)
“Woman – get a grip”.
These were the words Veronica Deac heard from a business advisor working at Potkuri, right after presenting her idea of bringing a new sport to Finland for the first time. It has been years since that experience, but the award-winning solo entrepreneur remembers the meeting like it was yesterday.
– I remember how the business advisor looked at me like I was crazy and told me staying home with the children and learning the Finnish language was a far better option. According to him, this way I would not lose my money.
Someone might have taken the business advisor’s advice, but it was not an option for Deac. Recently separated from her partner, Deac might have been an immigrant who did not know the language, a single parent, unemployed and in a foreign country without her community, but she surely was not dispirited.
– After the separation, I realized I had to first invest in my own well-being. I had been able to try Kangoo Jumps in my home country Romania and completely fallen in love with the sport. Therefore, I hoped to start practicing it in Finland as well, but I was surprised to find out that it was not possible.
The best business ideas are often born out of the entrepreneur’s own needs. That is what happened to Veronica as well. Since Kangoo Jumps had not yet arrived in Finland, Veronica decided to bring the sport to the country.
– I reached out to the head office of the Kangoo Jumps brand in Spain and shared my thoughts with them. It turned out, that since I had no education in sports, I had to become a group fitness instructor, before I would have the possibility to study to become a Kangoo Jumps instructor and then to become a distributor.
Studying would be no challenge for Deac, who had a degree in economics and had worked as a chief financial officer in Romania. Yet, training to become a group fitness instructor and to find a training in English, was more easily said than done.
– For six months, I travelled from Turku to Helsinki every second weekend to study for the only course that I had found in English. Meanwhile, I worked out like crazy, in order to get in the best possible shape myself. In addition, I annoyed my neighbours by jumping at home and making noise, which I blamed on my kids, Deac laughs.
Becoming a Kangoo Jumps instructor under the Spanish sun
After graduating as a group fitness instructor, Veronica gained experience from instructing a wide variety of people by delivering fitness classes for the elderly among other groups. However, the dream of bringing Kangoo Jumps to Finland and having her own studio had never died but stayed in the background throughout the time. Finally, Deac was able to study in Spain to become an instructor and got a license to deliver classes in Finland and to import equipment needed for the sport.
– In the beginning, I only bought 20 pairs of Kangoo Jumps shoes and delivered free classes for a month in premises I had rented. I started off by inviting people from my own community and asked them to bring a Finnish friend with them.
Meanwhile, Deac worked hard to increase the visibility of the sport.
– I took part in every event I could. I went around shopping malls and delivered classes outdoors in other cities during summertime. I also tried to offer my classes for bigger gyms, so far without any success.
”I am very proud of my roots, but I am not happy with the Romanian politicians. I do not trust them. I believe that despite the challenges I have faced in Finland, it would not be any easier in Romania.”
Photo: Shanshan Gong
Success and visibility from the Finland’s Got Talent competition
One day in the year of 2020, Deac received a surprising phone call from Mtv3 production. The producers had seen Deac’s Kangoo Jumps videos online and asked her to take part in the talent show aired on the channel.
– At first, I was very confused and asked them, what they wanted me to do in the program. I did not believe the whole thing until they sent me the application form by email and hoped to see me and my team in the show.
– Eventually, I had a very short time to submit the names of my entire team to the production. So, I started asking my instructors, who would like to join. In the end, there were even many people wanting to sign up, and we managed to form a team of eight.
When it comes to Deac’s business, taking part in the Finland’ Got Talent show was a success. Even though they did not win, the Kangoo Jumps girls made it to the final.
– The program brought a lot of positive visibility for my own company as well as for the sport in general in Finland.
Nowadays, Deac also trains others to become an instructor for the sport.
– I do not have any employees of my own, but I think it is wonderful to bring more small entrepreneurs to Finland by training new Kangoo Jumps instructors. Like myself, many have completely changed fields and now work full-time in the sport.
Networks are golden
As a strong woman who speaks her mind, Deac is not afraid to open her mouth about the challenges related to being an immigrant entrepreneur.
– In my opinion, Finns do not completely understand how significant a role immigrants play in our society. We do a lot of hard work that Finns refuse or do not want to do.
Despite of the challenges in Finland, Deac does not see herself in Romania anymore.
– I am very proud of my roots, but I am not happy with the Romanian politicians. I do not trust them. I believe that despite the challenges I have faced in Finland, it would not be any easier in Romania.
The biggest difference between doing business in Romania and Finland is taxation. There are also many similarities.
– In both countries you have to know the right people and have a good network if you want to succeed and move forward. In Romania, especially if you are working with the government, you have to be prepared to pay as well.
The Finns’ way of warming up slowly has also become familiar to Deac over time.
– In Finland, the answer to everything is almost all the time no. I have learned that here “no” often means “maybe”. That is why I take rejection with good energy, and I do not let negativity affect me. I will only say “That’s okay, you will definitely hear from me again”.
When it comes to the entrepreneur association, Deac hopes to see improvement in helping and taking immigrant entrepreneurs into account.
– The activities of the association should be more open and there should be events and communication in English as well. Us immigrants have a great potential also in terms of the association.
The entrepreneur is very grateful for the Solo Entrepreneur of the Year 2023 award granted by Varsinais-Suomen Yrittäjät.
– The award is a great gesture towards immigrant entrepreneurs like me.