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Founding in Finland

Nearly a month ago, I wrote about the beginnings of Fad Games. There's a bit more to the bureaucracy behind it all, though, so I thought I'd share some of the insights.

Starting a limited company in Finland is not a very painful process per se, but there are things that make it a bit hard. One is when applying for a Starttiraha grant. It's not a lot of money, it pretty much helps you pay for office space or some other smallish monthly expense. You need to apply successfully for it before founding the company. Filed the paperwork yesterday? Too late now.

Luckily the application process is quite sane. At first it might feel like the bureaucrats are out for your soul, but what they ask for isn't that. They essentially want to know what you're going to be up to and what kind of budgetary projections you have. In Fad Games' case, it was the first three games, in descendingly exact detail. Having some good stuff brewing for the first game probably didn't harm me. They did not want the design document, which is good, because it was nowhere near done at the time. They did want to know a bit about games two and three.

Either way, once that cart gets pushed back behind the horse, you're ready to found the company!

The capital required is 2500€. You need to deposit that to a business account with a bank and prove it to the Patent and Registry Office. Fad Games uses Holvi as its bank. Not only have I known the founders for ages, I've worked with them, I had a user account on the service and I just like what they're doing. Some other banks have started to offer services for new companies and entrepreneurs, but Holvi does it with style.

Problem is, there are different types of banks. Holvi is a different type of bank. You can't open an account until you have a business identifier, but I'll tell you more about that soon. Point is, you need to deposit the money on a business account of another type of bank. Then there's the cart and horse again. You can't open a business account at any bank if you're not a business yet. Your usual bank will allow you to have some kind of intermediary interim escrow type of arrangement, though, which is fine for the Patent and Registry office, so you can get your business identifier.

Once that bureaucracy is out of the way, you haul some paperwork over to the P&R, and they give you a business identifier. I'm not entirely sure on this, but I think you have to pay a bit extra to be given a business identifier immediately, otherwise you wait. Doesn't matter, the fees here are hundreds of euros, but you only pay them once.

This opens certain possibilities. You can use your business identifier in a bunch of places, like opening a Holvi account, but there's a slight catch.

A lot of activity requires you to be in the trade registry. Now, the trade registry does not get updated once your company is registered and a business identifier is granted. This is another two weeks or so of waiting.

Certainly the astute reader will have noticed, that not applying for money and not using a hippie bank would have saved quite some time. That's the startup route. Get enough seed money in advance, or count on bigger government funding, so you can fudge your budget while you fudge your business plan somewhere down the line.

That's probably quite valid for the companies that make an exit before filing for bankruptcy, or the very few who grow into sustainable businesses. But very few people will invest up-front in a company that doesn't have games yet and doesn't focus on re-making 40-year-old game concepts into free-to-play mobile games with Facebook integration.

Though it took its jolly while, it does feel good to be a legitimate business. Let's see if there's a snowball's chance the company won't go bust.

It's cold in Finland. Snowballs have chances.

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