Use the energy for constructive stuff.

On Saturday 18th of October, those walking in the vicinity of Kamppi enjoyed an exclusive treat: a couple of million euros worth of tuned super-cars strutted their stuff at the square, while live music blared on. Who made this happen?

Hello, who are you?
My name is Artjom Totsenoi and I’m the owner of Tuned Cars Meeting Suomi. I was born in Estonia, but my parents are both Russian. And not really Russian at that, but Ukrainian and Belorussian.

If you had to identify yourself with one of those nationalities or ethnic groups, which one would it be?
Oh, I don’t know. I’m different from every one of them. Some days I feel like a Russian, some days like a Finn. I just live my life, I am who I am.

How did you get to Finland?
My parents split, and my mother got together with a Finnish man, so we moved all of our businesses over here. But I don’t live with my parents, I live on my own. I’m 18 years-old.

You’re 18? So you’re still at school?
Yeah, the Business College at Kerava. It’s a high-school, but business-oriented.

You think you’re going to study more after school?
I’m not really sure. I know that I’d like to teach somewhere. It’s a bit tricky for me at school, because I’m already managing several businesses, and I’m in contact with influential people, like managers and bosses. So of course my businesses will continue after school, but I want to share what I’ve learned with others.

Let’s talk cars.
Oh, I loved cars since childhood. I had lots of them, I played and drew them and made stories… I waited for a long time for the day I would turn 18 to get my license and my own car, which is exactly what I did. And since I love cars and also want to create something innovative, I could combine both things.

Do you race?
Not seriously, no. And definitely nothing of street-racing, which is stupid and dangerous. But we’ve raced in the Ahvenisto racetrack with my partners of in our incredibly slow Mercedes, and that was fun (my Merc is RWD, so it was sliding a lot). Our next event, by the way, will be done in a racetrack and there will probably be some drifting too.

What are you driving nowadays?
Still the Mercedes, but I’m tired of it, it’s a family car.

What do you want to trade it for?
Something from abroad, expensive, flashy. A special, customized model that will make people remember me (which is my marketing strategy). My favorite car from childhood was the Nissan GT skyline R34, I really loved it. But I can pick something else entirely. I have contacts in Germany and Japan that could get me anything I want.

How did you end up creating TCM Suomi?
I owned a tuned car, my friend too. We thought of creating some sort of car club so we began gathering people, little by little. Organizing some small events on the street, some cruising, through social media and friends of friends. So it was a long effort that grew up to become TCM. And it will become bigger.

Which do you enjoy more, the production of an event, the happening itself, or the satisfaction that comes afterward?
(thinks) All the parts are fun, the production, the doing it, and the satisfaction after, if everything goes like I wanted to.

Want to tell about the Kamppi event?
We offered a great tuned-cars show, in the center of Helsinki, for free. We had two Ferrari 360s (a Spider and a Modena), a couple of Chevrolet Camaro SS, a Ford Mustang, several BMWs (M7, X5M), a Hummer H2, Nissans (Z350, SX200), a Porsche 911 Special, a Mercedes E350 4Matic… And also live DJs and rap battles.

How could you offer all this to the public for free? What was your goal?
The goal of the event was exposure, to demonstrate that we can do something special and unique. Yes, I had to pay (a lot) for the place, the electricity, bringing the cars in, negotiating with the owners (to some I had to pay as well) and with several companies. But it was a good opportunity to measure how partners perceive me. Are they really trying to help me? Will they do as they promised? Almost everybody fulfilled their commitments, except for a couple of companies and a friend, but that’s okay. And people were really surprised, we got very good feedback. They tell me they’ve never seen anything like it before in Finland.

I saw you running around a lot during the event.
He, he, yeah. People from companies with more than 35 years expertise told me I was doing it wrong, that I was over-controlling and checking every little thing, but I’m the guy in charge; if it doesn’t get done my way, it will be done in some other way. I’m so concerned that everything goes perfect that sometimes I miss the action. It was the first time in my life that I had seen a Ferrari so up close, but I was so into the organizing that I didn’t register it until later. I was working to make people happy, that was my goal, that they trust me and want to do more things together in the future.

Are you perhaps putting too much pressure on yourself?
Could be. But if something doesn’t work I blame myself, because I should have been there. I try to delegate, but I still go around and check how’s it going, even if I’m busy. I try to be in touch with everybody. For example, there’s a security guy and he’s alone out there, he walks, looking around, a bit like a clown. So I come with him, if I can, and be a clown too. We had a contract with the city to rent the space at Kamppi, and they offered to bring in their own team to clean any dirt afterwards, but my costs were already crazy high (this is a free show, remember) and I couldn’t afford any more. So after the show I went to pick by hand every cigarette butt on the whole square, all by myself. And I didn’t mind that, I’m not into this to feel superior, or that I’m the boss. I’m just like everybody else.

Cool. But delegating is also healthy, you know?
Yeah, I know. The problem is to find people you can trust and who understand what you want to do. Even friends of mine, who are dear to me, were not getting the results I was after, so it’s difficult to trust new partners. My age is also a problem, because I’m so young that I can’t find people my age who have the same goals and standards that I have.

What other plans do you have?
I want to produce a local TV show with tuned cars, like ‘Pimp My Ride’. I want to get companies to sponsor tuned cars, and to do special edition tunings, with custom paint-jobs, interiors, etc. And I want to offer a gold brand ‘Tuned by TCM Suomi’. Imagine an owner who already has a cool car, and wants to have an exclusive tuning and customization…

Sounds awesome. Do you want to operate your own garage?
I don’t really need one. The idea is to bring together the best companies to produce the work. One company to focus on the interior, other on the tuning, other on the custom paint-jobs, and so on. So much fun! Of course there will be complications, but the goal is to make customers super-happy with one-of-a-kind, exclusive jobs.

Can you pull this off in so-small-Finland?
It’s difficult, I know. But I believe it can be done. After we gather the best team for this and get it going, I think it will take off.

Are you seeing any friction in Finland because of your pseudo-Russian background?
Because of prejudice, you mean? It was a bit of a problem at first, yes. But I already have a network of Finnish people who have seen how I work and how high my standards are, so they can give good references. And after shows like this, where people see my commitment and my level of professionalism, they have a different opinion. First there can be bit of prejudice, then there is respect.

So when can we see another TCM event?
The next car show will most likely be in Spring. And in the summer another one with my partner Radalle. We also organize cruising events regularly, friends together riding around, really cool going out on Fridays or Saturdays, in a very friendly atmosphere. People like it very much. We advertise it in FB, social media is great for this. I want to make spring-time parties with the sea as background, cool music playing, and lots of people taking photos of amazing tuned cars. I’m already organizing all this.

It seems you are very driven. Where does it come from?
I’m all the time moving. It’s difficult for me to stay static for too long, I need to create new stuff, get things going. And I don’t like mediocrity very much, I like the very best things, so if I offer something it has to be of very good quality.

And where does it all come from… I’m not quite sure. I had a difficult childhood, I was a very wild kid. But I was an excellent student at the same time (I got awarded like ten stipends, and earned many diplomas). Then I realized other kids were looking up to me, so I decided to set a good example. What I want now is to show young people that it’s cool to run businesses and to do something constructive with your life, and that anybody can do it if they work hard and stick to it. I have read many books written by entrepreneurs (I’m so grateful to those people for sharing their stuff) and it’s interesting how they don’t talk so much about making business, but about being in business. Not about money, but about living your life in a certain way.

Are you positive every day, or do you still have something wild, or dark, inside?
It depends. Some days it comes from the happy side, others from the dark place. The trick is to use the energy for constructive stuff, no matter where it comes from, right? What drives me is to think “someone wants to watch and enjoy this show”. I can’t let them down.


This is TCM Suomi on Facebook. And this is TCM’s YouTube channel.