Introducing the future – here are the stars of Nordic Startup School - Business Tampere Magazine
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Introducing the future – here are the stars of Nordic Startup School

Business Tampere Nordic Startup School. Photo: Mirella Mellonmaa

Nordic Startup School is a program organized in collaboration with Golden Gateway and Startup Tampere, the initiative under Business Tampere, to help the most promising startups boost their quest for an international success. Now the search is over, and the organizers have eventually selected eight startups, along with five prospects to join them.

Go faster!

The program provides muscle and know-how for fresh entrepreneurs to meet the global demands. One of the selected startups also gets a chance to travel to Capital Factory in Austin, Texas to really take their business across the seas.

 Tomi Terentjeff is one of the gurus behind the project. He believes that one of the biggest flaws preventing Finnish startups from leaping abroad is the lack of pace.

Business Tampere Nordic Startup School. Photo: Mirella Mellonmaa
Business Tampere Nordic Startup School. Photo: Mirella Mellonmaa


In my opinion, in Finnish startup scene the whole process of internationalization is too slow, Terentjeff says. We can’t blame the lack of funding alone, because there are also clear shortcomings in the entrepreneur skills. Therefore, because fixing the whole financial infrastructure to get more funding might take quite a while, we decided to focus on increasing the entrepreneurs’ knowledge and skills.

Terentjeff surely knows what he’s talking about. He is a startup coach, mentor, consultant and investor with lots of experience from working with seed phase startups.

Learn to know yourself

Conquering the world requires preparation and self-knowledge. The world class mentors in the program help the entrepreneurs face the challenges of internationalization. One main factor is to highlight and reinforce your strengths.

Our main goal is helping the entrepreneurs to do their thing, but bigger and better, Terentjeff says. Once they have more understanding of internationalization, growth and sales, it’s also easier to find funding.

Here are the startups

Terentjeff says that Nordic Startup School was searching for early-stage startups with potential for international breakthrough.

– Our job is to support the entrepreneurs and businesses as they grow towards the international level, Terentjeff refines. It’s crucial to help them beware the expensive missteps in the early stages of their journey.

 Jukka-Pekka Pirhonen, the CTO of BrainCare, thinks that the program offers the perfect learning opportunities that have previously been lacking in Tampere startup ecosystem.

We have amazing support structures for fresh startups, but companies that have been around for a couple of years have kind of been on their own before. Critical things like growing your sales and moving to internationalization are difficult to learn, so it is great to have world class mentors for that, Pirhonen states.

One of the startups is Applicado. They already had a glimpse at international circles as they won the NTT Digital open innovation contest in Finland. The victory took them to Japan to pitch in the contest finals. Their Layette application is a tool to export knowledge about Finnish maternity information – which happens to be the best in the world – to the rest of the world. CEO Sini Havukainen is excited about the opportunity to join the Nordic Startup School.

It’s important to connect with other startups in an environment that nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit. We are going to have so many inspirational and professional keynotes and mentoring sessions that help us grow our business. And of course, the best part is the possibility to get be chosen to visit Texas that would help us open the US market, Havukainen says.

Runteq also has made their name known outside Finland, as they were picked for the Startup World Cup Finnish regional final by US jury. They are providing individualized and conversational running coaching experience for aspirational recreational athletes. Artificial intelligence, wearable sensors and daily interaction help to provide individual coaching for recreational runners.

Revonte creates the next generation e-bike technology with automatic transmission and software-based services. In January 2019 they raised approximately 400K investment. Other four startups are Lupaus/Nordic Fitmama, NurseBuddy, SmoothTeam and Stepone Tech.

Bubbling under – hot prospects

In addition to the nine businesses selected, the six prospects are also participating the sessions, but they have no guaranteed access for the top mentors to have 1-to-1 sessions with. All five have a chance to apply again next fall for the Nordic Startup School autumn 2019 batch.. One of the prospects is Hilla Entertainment. Founder Robert Niva believes, that it’s very valuable to bring the startups together.

The synergy that other startups can bring to each other is significant. Currently Tampere is growing and investing actively. The Pirkanmaa region is a very interesting place to do business and make international moves. I’m looking for the mentorship by the experienced industry veterans of Nordic Startup School and valuable advice for implementing HILLA Entertainment’s growth plans.

In addition to Hilla, the four other prospects are Medified, Valaa Technologies, Witview and Zealbots.

The future seems brighter

Tomi Terentjeff believes, that after the program the entrepreneurs have a better understanding of growth and internationalization. He thinks that sort of business tourism is still common in Finland, and one of the main goals is to help the startups to get rid of those kinds of heresies. He also says, that the average life cycle of a Finnish startup is too long.

– Many companies get stuck for years, without actually going anywhere. When we learn to let ideas and projects go, the speed of the cycle increases. That leads to having more talented and experienced minds available in the ecosystem, Terentjeff says.

He also sees that the funding is available, but the investors’ ability to support entrepreneurs isn’t on the internationally comparable level.

– All in all, we are on the right path. There’s still much to improve, but each year the future seems brighter and brighter for Finnish entrepreneurs.

Supported by 6Aika: Ecosystems of Growth -project

The joint 6-city project called 6Aika – Ecosystems of Growth creates opportunities for startups. The funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional council and, in Tampere, also from Tampere city region economic development company Tredea Oy (Business Tampere) and the city of Tampere.

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