Our alumni community is over 14,000 members strong. From Toronto to New York City to Hong Kong and beyond, our graduates are making their marks in businesses and communities around the globe. We are exceptionally proud of all of our grads and are excited to share their stories.
Featured Alumni Profile
Juha Mikkola, BCom ’04
“Pick something you love to do and just do it. There’s never a better time to start your own business than right out of school. If you work hard at it, you’re going to succeed.”
It was love that brought Juha Mikkola (BCom ’04), President, FloorballPro Inc., to the University of Toronto. He spent his freshman year at the Marshall Scholl of Business at the University of Southern California, but transferred in his second year after his girlfriend – now his wife -enrolled at UofT. “I chose business because I was curious about how it worked and I always pictured myself to be a businessman. Because I like doing things my way, I liked learning about the marketing and sales skills that could set me up for a career in entrepreneurship,” says Juha.
Juha initially focused on taking summer classes to catch up to his classmates as UofT did not recognize some the courses that he took at USC. “I was surprised at how challenging U of T was academically, compared to USC which was selected as Time’s College of the Year when I was there. Some classes felt two to three times harder in Toronto,” he says.
In 2004, Juha started UofT’s first floorball club and hosted the first Canada Cup Floorball Championship. He applied what he was learning in class to real life business. Instead of buying sticks from abroad, he started an import business and brought them to Canada. He now distributes to almost 100 retailers across North America. The Canada Cup celebrated its 10th anniversary this year with 68 teams participating in the games at Mattamy Athletic Centre, the former Maple Leaf Gardens.
Memorable for Juha was the time he spent at Delta Kappa Epsilon. “One of my best experiences was joining a fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon. I made lifelong friends and the activities at the house filled what I thought was a social void at U of T. I found there were not a lot of social activities for students, as many of my classmates commuted in and didn’t stay around in the evenings,” he recalls.
The courses that made a huge impact on Mikkola were the marketing and small business classes. “The small business class was awesome as I had to write a business plan, so of course I wrote about my floorball business and how I hoped it would grow. A few years later I had to submit a plan to the bank to get some financing and I was actually able to use the same business plan. I only had to change four numbers to make it match up with what I was actually doing!”says Juha.
Juha is an active participant in the Alumni Mentorship Program. “I think a strong alumni network is not just important but mandatory for Rotman Commerce to succeed. Students need to network and learn from professionals and those in the working world can benefit from staying in touch with current students and hearing their viewpoints,” he says.
Besides growing the game of floorball, FloorballPro Inc. announced a school partnership with Hockey Canada a few months ago that is expected to bring the game to schools across the country. The company is also expanding in the indoor court shoe market to take on new markets particularly for squash and handball. Mikkola knows that staying fresh is important in business: “I am also always looking for new opportunities, especially those where I can help launch new businesses, so you never know where the next steps might lead.”