Finns of the Bay Area

Finlandia Foundation San Francisco Bay Area Chapter introduces you to local Finnish people representing different arts, passions and interests.

Janne Tamminen

Silicon Valley Life with Finnish Vibes
By Katja Kotala
Janne has had a clear mission to move to the United States ever since he first stepped a foot at LAX in the nineties. “No freezing rain in LA - I have to move here some day!” That day finally came more than ten years later, when he won in the green card lottery in 2010. 48 hours after he got the stamp in his passport, Janne was on the plane to Los Angeles. Since then he has found himself living in Santa Monica, LA, Hawaii, and now in Silicon Valley.

Before moving to the Bay Area Janne was doing freelance jobs editing material for a Finnish tv-network Nelonen. For example, he has been working on the Finnish version of Funniest Home Videos (Hauskimmat kotivideot) from the start of the show. What finally brought him to the San Francisco Bay Area a year and a half ago, was the long-standing idea of joining a startup, or founding one of his own.
- Janne Tamminen
Authentic Silicon Valley experience

Starting with the true Silicon Valley experience, Janne did some networking in the local community and soon found himself working at Google, first for the 360 street view team and then as a specialist for the Youtube Music app. “It is an awesome place to work! Great people, offices, great benefits, great food.” Nevertheless, as the project ended it was time to take the next step in the Silicon Valley experience, and he decided to dedicate 200% of himself to his startup.

Janne learned a lot about the startup journey by collaborating in the Viking Geeks documentary  last year, which tells the stories of Nordic startups in Silicon Valley. Now with the first investors on board of his own startup is really starting to take off.

Supporting the Local Finnish Community
On top of that 200% Janne somehow manages to find time for other projects as well. He is hosting the local startup housing Mustakarhu in Palo Alto. It started with a project in Oulu, Finland, to create housing for their startups coming to Silicon Valley. However, now they have visitors from all over Finland, and with recommendation, also from other countries. “The rest of the year is looking good with the bookings, now that the word has started spreading. It is an easy place to come to, especially considering the general price level in the area.”

Parked at Mustakarhu is another project Janne is involved in, the Silicon Valley Saunabus. The idea to set up a mobile sauna has been alive in the Finnish community for years, but thanks to funding from Mårten Mickos, the idea finally became reality. The mission is to provide a possibility to rent a sauna for local Finnish community free of charge, and the maintenance of the vehicle is funded with revenues from companies renting the sauna for bigger events.
According to Janne, a band is something you have to have.
According to Janne, being involved in all of these projects is only possible because of yet another passion – the band. “It is a hobby that enables everything else. Moving to Hawaii I sold all of my guitars, only to find myself in a guitar shop a couple of days later.” The band is called Midnight Sinfini and they play “modern rock/metal with a unique, new sound with symphonic and electronic elements”. With a new drummer on board they are looking forward to doing some more gigs towards the end of the year.
California dreaming
For now, Janne has truly found a home in California. “Silicon Valley is the best place for a startup. Here the first thing people think is how they could help you, and they really believe in paying it forward. That’s the sentiment I get from all the Finnish visitors as well, it is always worth it to visit even if you are not planning to do business here.”

The Silicon Valley mindset of giving back seems to be well rooted in him as well. He is investing a great amount of his time doing things that first and foremost benefit the Finnish community both locally and back in Finland. But like a true Finn, Janne is nevertheless way too modest to claim due credit of his work.
At Mustakarhu you can relax and enjoy the steam in Saunabus.