Young entrepreneurs: Twin brothers launching new Helsinki-Turku bus service

The 21-year olds hope to disrupt the transport market from Helsinki to Turku with their no-frills service.

File picture of Eero Autio (L) and Henri Autio (R) / Credit: Eero Autio

Two young entrepreneurs are set to launch a brand new bus service linking Helsinki and Turku with low-cost fares.

Twins Henri and Eero Autio are just 21-years old and still studying at university, but they’ve identified a gap in the transport market and are ready to start nanoBus later this month – despite the uncertainties of commuting during the coronavirus crisis.

“We are quite different because there are no other students running a company like this. And in Finland there is a few big [bus] companies and not so tough competition, and that’s why we decided to try” explains Eero, who studies energy and environmental technology at Aalto University in Espoo. His brother studies at Turku School of Economics.

It’s not the first transport venture the brothers have been involved in. Their previous business was a small taxi company which started off with just one vehicle which they bought themselves, and expanded to five cars.

After that, they set their sights on bigger modes of transport and bought a bus which was leased out for charter hires. Launching nanoBus seemed like a logical next step.

At first nanoBus offers three weekday services from Helsinki to Turku, and three departures on the way back again from Turku to Helsinki. On the weekend there’s two services in each direction.

While competitors advertise very cheap tickets, Eero explains in reality there is maybe only one ticket at the absolute cheapest price on each bus. The twins’ think their new nanoBus concept is more fairly priced.

“From Helsinki to Turku we sell five tickets in every journey from €2.99 plus the Matkahuolto 50 cent booking fee. Then we sell a lot of tickets, I think 55 or 60 tickets from one euro more expensive €3.99 plus the booking fee. And in the rush hour we have ticket prices like €4.99 maximum” Eero Autio tells News Now Finland.

File picture of nanoBus / Credit: nanoBus

Will coronavirus impact the business model?

There are certainly easier times to be launching a transport service: HSL and VR reported significant drops in passenger volumes on buses, trams and trains during the spring and early summer as lockdown restrictions were in place and many people worked from home.

So are the brothers worried about not getting enough passengers on their new bus route?

“This is a real concern. Actually we don’t know. But in Finland now the coronavirus is not so strong, but no-one knows if there is a second wave or something like that coming. We can’t just wait and wait” before launching, Eero explains.

The service on board is no-frills, with none of the creature comforts like wi-fi that other bus operators or train services offer. Eero Autio concedes they might have to add wi-fi later but also says if someone is making multiple trips between Helsinki and Turku each week their pricing model is very affordable, and their journey time at 2:15 each way is competitive.

The service begins on Thursday 13th August from Kamppi, with stops at Meilahti; Nihtisilta in Espoo; Lohja; Salo; Paimio; Turku University; Turku Cathedral; and Turku bus station.