All-Rounders Group: “It all started out as a way to have fun with friends”
MEGE – Multicultural Encounters, Growth, Entrepreneurship was an initiative aimed to remove barriers for international professionals to establish and acquire businesses in the Helsinki region. It was a joint project of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Business College Helsinki, Aalto University and the Shortcut. The initiative was funded by Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council from European Regional Development Funds from 2018 to 2020.
For MEGE, Business College Helsinki provided training and individual coaching on business transfers. The project collaborators also produced a series of entrepreneurial stories to give inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Below the story of All-Rounders Group.
Read more about MEGE from https://www.mege.fi/
Mayuran Kamalanathan is the CEO and the co-founder of All-Rounders Group, a business that started out as a way to have fun with friends. Eight years after being founded, the business employs over 300 people in total. In 2020 All-Rounders Group made over 10 million euros in sales.
Mayuran moved to Finland when he was only 5 years old. As he is originally from Sri Lanka, he is also part of the Tamil community in Finland. This community is where Mayuran met his current co-partners.
– We spent a lot of time together and then started to arrange these culture events for other Tamils, he says.
They moved on from arranging cultural events to changing tyres in people’s yards. This was their way to start funding their business.
It all started with a rumour
As there were lot of Tamils cleaning buses at the Helsinki region, Mayuran decided to pick up the phone and offer their services to a bus company in Vantaa. This company did not need to hire any new people.
– But they did let me know that a bus company in Espoo was thinking of changing their cleaning company, Mayuran adds.
And that’s how their cleaning business launched in Espoo. During this time, Mayuran was reluctant to give up his job as a development manager. This all changed after they secured a 5-year contract with a bus company. Since then Mayuran has been a full-time entrepreneur with the others.
– I always say that it all started with a rumour, he laughs. – When you start doing things, things just start happening.
Now the company has three different departments: a logistic service, bus cleaning service and facility cleaning service. They have always wanted to try different things and learn about different businesses.
– In cricket, a famous sport in Sri Lanka, All-rounder means a guy who can play all the places, Mayuran explains. – That versatility is something we have always wanted to keep in the business.
Growing the business
Through the years, All-Rounders Group has grown both in terms of staff but also in terms of the areas they cover.
A few years back they wanted to go into cleaning facilities but they did not have the required knowledge or experience. They started to search for businesses for sale and finally they found a facility cleaning company called Smile & Clean.
– At first we didn’t even know that there were so many Tamils working in that company, says Mayuran.
Before the acquisition, the founders of Taaleri Oyj, a Finnish wealth management group headquarter, contacted Mayuran. They had heard about All-Rounders Group through a news article in Helsingin Sanomat. They were impressed by the story of All-Rounders and wanted to support entrepreneurship through investing in the company. With their help, All-Rounders bought Smile & Clean in 2017.
When asked if a business acquisition is something he would recommend to others, Mayuran says it depends on the situation. You should always do a risk assessment before buying.
– Of course if you have a plan and funding, go for it, he says. – We were lucky enough to have these two guys to invest in our company.
In addition to business acquisition, Mayuran says that they have grown simply by doing the job well. You don’t need extensive social media marketing or sales people when the word gets out.
– When you do the job proper way, they will know about you, he adds. – It’s all about how you manage, talk with your customers and react to the feedback.
Speaking of managers, Mayuran believes in a management that works closely with their employees. They want to be easily approachable.
– I have also done the deliveries and cleaned the buses, Mayuran explains.
All-Rounders wants to offer its employees a career path. As a multicultural company, they have many foreign employees who do not necessarily speak Finnish or English. Mayuran says that their main goal is to develop their employees to become key members in the future.
Freedom to make decisions
When asked about the benefits of being an entrepreneur, Mayuran confesses that he actually never thought about being one as he considered it too risky. Even to this day, he thinks that you should only become an entrepreneur if you are sure about it.
– You should always take a calculated risk, he says.
By a calculated risk, Mayuran means that you should always have a backup plan. Then if something goes wrong, you will not lose everything.
However, coming back to the benefits of being an entrepreneur, Mayuran has a clear answer: freedom. Before All-Rounders Group, Mayuran worked for various big companies.
– Usually, with these kinds of big companies, you cannot make many decisions by yourself and this can be frustrating, he says. – Of course, with freedom comes a lot of responsibility too.
Mayuran’s advice to future entrepreneurs is to think twice, calculate the risk and then most importantly: enjoy the journey.
– Remember to have fun together all the time, he says.
Text: Janika Hallikainen and Sarianne Manninen