The Finnish growth company MaaS Global is the world’s first Mobility as a Service (MaaS) provider. Its Whim application combines transportation with public transport, city bikes, taxis, shared cars and car rentals. The company took its first steps under the auspices of Korkia.

The Movement Revolution – Over 1 000 billion dollar market

Founded in 2015, Maas Global has launched an international transportation movement. The core idea is that consumers do not need to own their means of transport, but use services according to their own needs. The various transport services are integrated into a seamless whole in the virtual and real world. Mobility as a Service can be seen as an all-in-one package into which the users can incorporate everything they see necessary for their transportation needs.

Consumers spend large sums on private owned cars with a very low utilisation rate of roughly 4 percent in Finland. Despite their low level of use, a large part of consumers’ capital is bound to cars and this creates a significant cost to households. At the same time, cars block cities and cause more than a tenth of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Mobility as a Service is seen as an important part of sustainable development, and there is great international demand for modern car ownership options. According to ABI Research’s estimate, the value of the Mobility as a Service market in 2030 is even more than 1 000 billion USD.

From idea towards concrete – the enabling environment created by the authorities is a prerequisite

The co-operation between Korkia’s (former Eera’s) Martti Malmivirta and MaaS Global’s Sampo Hietanen goes back to the time before the emerge of the present MaaS concept. Even then, as part of other activities, both understood the importance of data in the integration and control of transportation. In the discussions, the idea arose that more value will be created around the information than the physical materials – in the transportation of people, knowledge would be the new oil. It was, however, not yet clear how this value could be utilized. For example, legislation and the operating environment would still require several years and many changes to enable new types of mobility services.

At the same time, the authorities in Finland saw the opportunity to utilize data and communication technologies to optimize the transport system. In 2009, The Ministry of Transport and Communications of Finland published the world’s first intelligent transportation strategy in the world. Over the next few years, both the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Trafi (currently known as Traficom) were reorganized to review their operations from the perspective of the entire transportation system, and the services of all modes of transport were offered from the same door.

The changes made by the Finnish authorities in their operations, the shared understanding of the authorities and public bodies and the ambition of intelligent transport, as well as the permissive legislation, allowed the emergence of the world’s first MaaS operator in Finland. Finland is therefore considered to be one of the model countries for transportation services.

When Sampo Hietanen in year 2012 started as the CEO of ITS Finland, a forum for intelligent traffic and transportation development co-operation which brings together management, research and business parties, the vision of MaaS quickly set off.

The role of ITS Finland as a co-operation forum has been a key driving force behind MaaS. Finland’s strength lies in networking and the trust between different actors. In many other countries, this kind of networking would not be easy, and the idea could get stuck at lawyers’ tables.

The business plan was built on a network of 24 companies

In December 2014, ITS Finland organized an open event with the aim of creating concrete terms for MaaS. With the event and the work done in the autumn, 24 companies decided to take a joint effort to find out the MaaS business conditions.

The companies made a small financial contribution to the co-operation, and in the spring of 2015, Korkia was hired to build a business plan for MaaS. Korkia has a long experience in building business networks and during this process, this knowledge came into use. The process was tightly controlled and and also the schedule was tight. The steering group, consisting of all companies, met four times during the three-month process and the management team met weekly.

The common vision was to create a personalized, customized and situation pending mobility service at a monthly price. In a nutshell, the idea was to build “the Spotify of transportation”. Under the leadership of Korkia the work started as an agile business development. The “use case” procedure was at the heart of the project and it helped to answer key questions, such as customer experience, service level and technology integration.

After completion of the business plan, a new company called MaaS Finland Oy was founded in May 2015, initially by Korkia and under its name.

“Without Korkia and its tight grip on building the business plan, there would be no MaaS Global,” says Sampo Hietanen, founder and CEO of MaaS Global.

After the plan was completed and the company was set, it took still half a year before the company truly started its business operations. This required Sampo’s decision to resign from ITS Finland and to start as CEO of MaaS Finland.

Before moving to the CEO’s duties, it was necessary to secure the early-stage financing: Korkia was in charge of Finnish funding and Hietanen took care of foreign funding. The French traffic giant Transdev, the Turkish car company Karsan Otomotiv Sanayii, Ticket AS, Veho and several other companies invested 0,7 million EUR and TEKES (currently known as Business Finland) granted a 1,5 million EUR loan.

Fast growth, but it’s just the beginning

In summer 2016, the company changed its name to MaaS Global to highlight its international focus. MaaS received great interest both in Finland and internationally and Sampo was a desired speaker for estrades.

Finally, in the fall of 2017, the company’s Whim application was launched for the public in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

“Private cars are no longer meaningful in cities: it is slow, expensive and burdensome for the environment. Finland has the best infrastructure in the world to develop the MaaS concept and Finland, through mobility services, can redeem its place as the leading country of digitalization,” Hietanen comments on Finland’s role.

The growth has been fast. With its investment rounds, MaaS Global has already raised over EUR 25 million EUR of funding. With venture capital investments, the company has been able to expand internationally and the service is already operating in Antwerp and Amsterdam in the Netherlands and in the West Midlands in the UK.

“Our ambitious goal is to build global transportation roaming, so one could travel for example from Helsinki to Brussels by using only one application,” Hietanen concludes.


Author Eemil Rauma is Korkia’s Senior Consultant specialized in Mobility Services. He is also a passionate home cook, a port wine fanatic, and a challenger of traditional operational models.

Korkia is an internationally operating growth, investment and business development company with a focus on promoting sustainable development. The group’s revenue in 2018 was 8.5 M €, our customers are domestic and international investors, companies and institutions. Our team includes over 75 experts at 9 locations and is supported by a strong Advisor network.

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