Nordic media, take note. Finland is notorious for its lack of entrepreneurs. A collaboration between student-run associations from the top 3 schools in Helsinki (Aaltoes, Hankenes and Hues) has raised 50,000 euros in public funding, to encourage students to create startups during the Summer.
Summer of Startups will take place during July and August and will provide 750 euros per month in funding to each team member, regardless of their school or country of origin. This is the first time such a program does not take any equity, unlike programs such as Y-Combinator, Techstars, or Startup Bootcamp Denmark. The goal is purely educational, in order for students to try entrepreneurship without having to fear from failure. Stanford started a similar initiative called SSE Labs, which will run from June 15th-Sept 15th.
Disclaimer: I am the main coach of this program.
The program will be divided in 8 weeks. Each will have a unique theme, where CEOs from existing startups will serve as mentors and share their experience in the following topics:
- Team building: collaborating, finding ideas
- Market: exploring and finding the right customer segments
- Business model: iterating ways to get revenue
- Networking: finding the right events, media and prospects
- Pitching: creating a compelling sales and investor pitch
- Field trip: travel to Tallin or Berlin to meet local startups
- Failure: how to learn from failure and to iterate
- Last push: where to go from there
A total of 60 applications were received. From those, 20 were selected to participate in a pitching competition in front of a panel of judges: Kristo Ovaska (founder of Aaltoes), Will Cardwell (ex CEO of Technopolis), Sami Heikkiniemi (Tekes), and me (CEO of Mysites). The ten winners selected were:
- MDA – a mobile service to scan and collect info of your diet in real-time
- Incspark – “Friendfeed for the enterprise”
- SMS IT – enable updates to Facebook and other social media services by SMS (for example when abroad)
- Living Canvas – creates “Rainforest in a box” for office spaces.
- Alfa – Location-based reminders (ex: “buy toothpaste” when in supermarket)
- Octarine – makes it easy to create travel logs online with your pictures and videos
- Mookoo – creates more comfortable and ecological design textile materials for furniture
- Buffee – a platform for social games to collect feedback from users regardless of their mother tongue
- Micro Polling – simple mobile-based surveys to provide better feedback to companies
- Pamoja Innovations – promotes development of greentech and renewable energy in East Africa
We hope to see more such initiatives in the Nordics and wish good luck to the new startups.