Why Integrify is going to be the builder of the century

Last year, we thought we had a great idea — to teach most skilled refugees who had come to Finland how to code, instead of having them sit in asylum centers without anything to do.

Quickly, we built some infrastructure, selected the first participants and began a pilot program in central Helsinki. The results were amazing. Today, 100% of participants of Integrify have been employed. One of them, Nizar, joined my own company, Nord Software — and in a tough environment (in Nord you really have to be a great programmer to thrive) he has thrived.

At the same time, we were able to attract many great partners — and gain a lot of positive press, from e.g. Bloomberg, Fortune, the Guardian and many others

And then…

Nothing.

Nothing?

Yea, we never could get the project off the ground.

What happened was that the political environment was simply too tough for us — the ministries were interested in reducing places in asylum centers, not doing smart things with refugees already in place.

Yet, our idea persisted — and when we saw the opportunity that Builders of the Century provides we knew the time had come to re-start Integrify — “pivot” as they say in the startup world.

So, yesterday we were selected to the competition — kick-starting our own operations as well. We are psyched.

Integrify 2.0 — our company — will teach recent immigrants how to code. Simple as that. We will do it as a public-private partnership, relying on our both the corporate world (who want to employ talents) and the public sector (who save a massive amount of money with our approach).

It takes 5+ years to employ an immigrant. And even then, the jobs aren’t great. We aim to do it in less than a year, and to place people in high-paying software development jobs.

So, what are we in fact going to do?

Basically three things — and write three posts detailing these things on this blog as well — to detail how things are going.

  1. We will identify the best recent immigrants (people who have received asylum), who are, in general, still sadly sitting at home with nothing to do. This effort will be led by Eyas Taha, a graduate of Integrify.
    Read more about our approach here.
  2. We will find the companies who want to help us, and help themselves. We are not a charity — but a company that solves a huge issue. We have already 10+ partners and are looking for more.
    Read more about our approach here
  3. We will refine our approach to be able to build a self-sustaining business, using the amazing platform the competition provides.

By completing these, we will win the competition and gain financing to kick-start a large pilot program of 100+ recent immigrants. And within one year of start, we will help most of these people find great jobs in the Finnish ICT industry — where demand of thousands of positions exists.

It really is as simple as that.

Personally, I’d like to thank our partners Peter Vesterbacka, SOS-Lapsikylä and Nord Software for joining us — it will be an interesting ride.

Niklas Lahti
Co-founder, CTO
Integrify
niklas@integrify.fi
+35840 7741 777