Editorial note: This is a guest post by Natalie Gaudet, who is one of the active people behind Startup Sauna – a Nordic and Baltic startup seed accelerator helping companies get further. While we don’t usually promote individual programs as such, Startup Sauna is a great initiative, non-profit started by our good friends at AaltoES.

The Startup Sauna seed accelerator program is getting bigger and better. Since there has been an incredible response from Russia last year, the program decided to add three more Russian cities to the list. The number of coaches that will be mentoring the teams has also increased.

Russian Connections
“Last year we have received 80 applications from teams from St-Petersburg and Moscow”. says Ville Simola, the manager of the Startup Sauna program. “We are now expecting a lot more applications this year as we have added three more Russian cities: Kazan, Jekateriburg and Novosibirsk. They were chosen because they had a high number of startups and entrepreneurship activity in the region.

Why are Russians so eager to participate into this Nordic Program you might ask yourselves? A Russian team from the previous batch, Stereonic, explains that the program was extremely valuable. “It was very useful in terms of an educational program but probably even more useful in terms of gathering a group a diverse group of entrepreneurs in a place that produces opportunities.” says Dmitry Klimov , CEO of Stereonic. The Startup Sauna’s good ties with to Silicon Valley is also a plus for Russian teams.

The Format of the Program
Startup Sauna is bringing its own coaches to each event and will be joined by three local coaches from the region. The coaches are serial entrepreneurs with a lot of experience in the field. In each city, the selected teams will do a pitch in front of the coaches as well as one-on-one meetings. The best teams will be selected and invited to the Startup Sauna Intensive program at the Aalto Venture Garage in Helsinki. See startupsauna.com for more information and information on how to apply.

Previous Winners; Where are they now?
Startup Sauna has run 3 times in the past year and a half. It was first called Bootcamp. The first place winners of each batch are now well on there way to success.

Campalyst (Winner of Startup Sauna 2011)
Campalyst is in New York, London, Finland and everywhere is the Baltics! This impressive fast pace team went from Garage48, to Startup Sauna to SeedCamp.

TribeStudios Winner of Bootcamp Spring 2010)
Their much awaited game: Velvet Showdown is in Alpha. They are cooperating with storytelling professionals from Finland such as Finlandia Prize-winning science fiction and fantasy author Johanna Sinisalo and an author and roleplaying game designer Mike Pohjola. This Finnish gaming team is sure to blow away some expectations.

Blaast (Winner of Bootcamp Fall 2009)
Just recently won the Aalto Initiative Prize ,Blaast is a cloud-based software enterprise that has made it possible for owners of cheaper mobile phone models around the world to access applications comparable to those available to smart phone owners. They raised financing from top tier investors.

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