*NEWS: CEO of Custom Software Engineering Studio Wins Entrepreneur Award
A custom software engineering and design studio that recently expanded into OC was honored for its growth, local hiring, corporate citizenship and overall contribution to the Irvine economy.
Ville Houttu, the CEO of Vincit California, received the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Celebrate Irvine Gala on June 20 at an event hosted by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the city of Irvine.
Vincit California is under the umbrella of Vincit, a global custom software engineering company with HQ in Finland. Founded in 2007, Vincit has more than 450 employees around the world.
Opening a U.S. office has been a dream of Houttu for nearly half a decade, he said.
“When the company reached 250 employees, I noticed quite a few of my colleagues shared the dream of working with clients outside Finland,” Houttu said. “So I ventured out to Silicon Valley to open up the first Vincit California office.”
The Silicon Valley office in Palo Alto opened in 2016.
Irvine then caught Houttu’s attention because of the “qualified talent pool, strong academics of UCI and other institutions, vibrant national brands and a focus of Irvine to be business-friendly,” he said.
Vincit California started in the Irvine WeWork co-working space at 200 Spectrum Drive last year and moved to its own office at 300 Spectrum Drive – both Irvine Co. buildings – in April of this year.
Vincit California’s ultimate goal is to spin off from its parent company. In less than two years, it’s grown to 22 employees from the three original ones. Its clients in the U.S. include Yamaha, KCRW and Logitech.
Last year, Vincit acquired Xtopoly, an Irvine-based digital marketing agency founded by Naushad Huda. He declined to disclose the financial terms of the acquisition.
“The marriage makes sense because Vincit is a lot stronger in development and engineering,” said Huda, who now serves as Vincit California’s director of strategy & partnerships.
Vincit’s mantra of ‘creating a place where even Mondays don’t suck’ is “evident throughout the culture of the company,” Huda said.
Vincit California also recently received one of the highest California Competes tax credits in Orange County for local investment in hiring, Houttu said. It got $1,095 per year for three years from the governor’s office.
The company plans to expand further in the U.S. It’s currently hiring developers.
“It’s been an incredible two years in the U.S,” Houttu said. “I am appreciative to the city of Irvine and the chamber for creating an atmosphere within the business community that not only welcomes foreign companies, but creates an environment for success. This award is the result of the hard-work and happiness of my team, and trust from our clients and partners.”
Vincit California’s support of the OC community includes Orange County Code School in Newport Beach; web design and development through UCI’s Continuing Education division; and LearningFuze in Irvine. The company provides that support in the form of free quarterly events for the developer and code-school students, known as “Vincit DevTalks”; hiring graduates from these schools; mentoring the students; and critiquing student projects.