A few weeks back we asked the Finnish startup ecosystem to answer a simple survey on how the government backed Vigo accelerator program has worked in favor of the startups and the ecosystem as a whole. The time to answer that survey ended last Friday and we’ve now had a few days time to figure out what the data actually mean and how it could be used to make the program better. Needless to say, there are a lot of areas that need improvement. We’ll go through the results below.

The survey

Below is the survey we had participants answer. It’s by no means a very complete survey and by no means is it academically built, but it’s trying to portray the overall approach of the startup ecosystem for the program and see clear shortcomings in its activity.

Part 1

  • 1. Have you been interviewed by Vigo accelerators? (if yes, move to next question – if no, move to part 2)
  • 2. Was it clear to you how the process works? (if yes, move to next – if no, move to part 2)
  • 3. How was it unclear?

Part 2
In this part we asked general questions on how the startup ecosystem saw the program. The answers could made on a scale between 1 and 5. 1 equalled “totally disagree” and “totally uncompetent” (for question 10) where as 5 equalled “totally agree” and “extremely competent” (for question 10).

  • 4. Vigo has had a positive effect on the Finnish enterpreneurial scene in the last 12 months.
  • 5. Vigo accelerator has worked in an open manner to improve the ecosystem.
  • 6. I’m not exactly sure how the Vigo accelerators and the program work.
  • 7. Vigo system is exactly what we need in the Finnish startup ecosystem to create more high growth startups.
  • 8. Vigo accelerators are easy to approach, if I’d need to reach them.
  • 9. Vigo accelerators have funded/accelerated the best-of-breed companies, the best startups around.
  • 10. How high would you rank the competence of VIgo accelerator teams?

Part 3
Here we asked in the form of 2 questions how people saw the goal of the program as well as how it could be made better.

  • 11. What do you understand as the goal of Vigo programme?
    • Create a fast-lane for startups to get public funding
    • Create successful first class accelerators to Finland
    • Create an “Israeli-type” speedway for Finnish startups to get funded and accelerate into the international IPO & exit market
  • 12. What would be the biggest thing to improve in Vigo?
    • All accelerators should have a big fund supporting them
    • The process should be more transparent
    • The process should be more simple and clear
    • The accelerators need to be more competent
    • There needs to be more accelerators
    • Other

    The results

    Once more, these results are not academic in any way. They simply try to give a clear enough picture of the program so that it can be made better in the future for all of us. We’ll start off by looking at the breakdown of the participants and how much they had actually been in contact with the Vigo accelerators.

    In this first part of the survey results, we’ll cover the first six questions. We’ll go through the remaining questions in the second part of the Vigo survey after easter.

    Part 1
    With the first question we wanted to find out how far spread the Vigo program actually is. All in all, a relatively large amount of respondents answered they had been interviewed by Vigo accelerators. This of course helped us in the two upcoming questions to determine how clear the process was and how well the interviewed respondents saw the advantages of the program.

    In the second question, we asked all those who had been interviewed by Vigo accelerators if the program itself had been very clear to them. We understand we could have asked a ton of other questions, but the basic setup usually requires the participants to understand the deal they are agreeing into and thus this question was asked.

    While there were only 42 companies who had been interviewed by Vigo accelerators, more than 70% did not understand how the process or program worked. This clearly tells that while the program was put up with a lot of noise, not a lot of effort was put into the way this accelerator program works from the perspective of the startups.

    In question three we asked those who found the process unclear the ways in which or why they found it unclear, which were the issues that they did not find answers to and so on. There was a wide variety of issues that troubled the respondents. Many claimed that the roles of participants was not clear nor was the basis on how funding was given out, and so on.

    Many respondents also answered that it was not clear what the role of the Vigo accelerators was in the companies themselves. There was a lot of disambiguation whether the accelerators are investors, advisors or actually consultants. Some even went as far as wondering if the system was built for the accelerators to reap the benefits of each party; with a small investment they could easily land a board seat and in addition with the monthly invoicing of the startup reap the benefits of a consultancy.

    Needless to say, there are a lot of issues that need clarification. One of the main issues that was also given in the results below is the issue of transparency. A publicly funded program should stand strict scrutiny as the taxpayers are funding it.

    Part 2
    In part two we looked into the opinions of the larger population as well – those that did not have any contact with Vigo accelerators. The answers in these questions were given on a scale of 1 to 5, depending on how strongly the respondent agreed with the claim.

    The first of the claims was whether the program had had a positive effect on the overall ecosystem and atmosphere. The average for the responses was a 2.96 which is slightly below the neutral 3, making the overall effect of the program just a bit negative. However, this is such a small skew to the disagreement of the claim that in all honesty it can be said that the program itself has not had any effect, neither positive nor negative, to the Finnish startup ecosystem. In total, 101 answers were given to this question.

    The second claim was to get an understanding how people see the transparency of the program. This was one of the claims that sparked the clearest of answers, hoping to result in dramatic changes to the way the program is run. Looking at the result, it can be said that the program is run in a closed manner to improve the ecosystem, which sound paradoxical in itself. People most likely would like to see the program improve the ecosystem, but it should do so in a lot more open manner. There were 102 answers given to this question, with an average of 2.28 making it slightly agreeable than “somewhat disagree”.

    Third on our list of claims was to understand how big a problem the lack of understanding how the program worked actually was. 64% of the respondents said that they somewhat agreed or totally agreed to the claim “I’m not exactly sure how the Vigo accelerators and the program work”. A clear sign that more clarity is needed to the program. However, there were 25 people who somehow or totally understood how the program work. Out of 103 answers, however, it’s not a very high number. The average for this question was 3.64 which is slightly skewed towards not fully understanding how the program works.

    Part 2

    In the second part of the survey results we’ll cover the rest of the questions and answers. They are interesting for sure and I strongly invite you back after easter to study them with us.

    But before that, how do these results resonate with you? Is this something you were expecting or are you shocked to see these?

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