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From a hobby to part-time entrepreneurship

His day job is working in the international training operations of the City of Joensuu, but during his spare time Ville Nivalainen switches to being a part-time entrepreneur. After playing disc golf actively for nearly 10 years, it became a business for him when he founded Obsidian Discs with two other shareholders in 2014.

- “We started with the manufacturing of discs, but now the focus has shifted to the design of courses and to the subcontractor-sourced production of course equipment, such as baskets, tee signs and tee pads. Naturally, the sport is focused on the green months of the year, so Finland's long and bright summer nights provide plenty of time for business activities´, Nivalainen says.

“My employer has not condemned my sideline business activities, on the contrary, the personnel's comprehension of entrepreneurship is seen only as a positive and eye-opening thing. Designing courses is a project which often demands breaks to think about the plans until the next evening or the weekend, so the work can easily be spread so that it does not disturb the day work.´

 

In the early stage, the team at Obsidian Discs participated in the Draft program initiated by the Karelia University of Applied Sciences, where they received much-welcomed professional insight on their business idea. 

- “I am certain that competitions that offer support for developing ideas and for handling practical matters also help a company in obtaining a more straightforward start.

Nivalainen feels that extending the business to a full-time entrepreneurial level would require so much investment in internationalization that, at least at this stage, the intention is to continue with part-time operations – but keeping on eye on the developments in the field, of course. 

- “After all, part-time entrepreneurship is definitely a safe option in that it offers all the potential in the world. If the business takes a flying start, there is always the option to employ another person to attend to things, if one does not want to become a full-time entrepreneur.

The products offered by Obsidian Discs are based on the views of the shareholders, i.e., passionate disc golfers, on what they consider to be good disc golf products, so the bar is set very high.

- “In competitive tendering, it does not always pay off to manufacture products that are of ‘excessively good quality´, but we do stand behind our strategy and only produce products that we would like to use ourselves. As part-time entrepreneurs, this has been the right path for us.

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