AaltoES' Founders' Week Inspires A Nation

If you think about it, it’s impressive that the AaltoES kids were able to drag anyone away from sunny California and into the still-chilly north. It’s even more impressive when you consider the entrepreneurs they were able to get up here. Founders’ Week kicked off Monday and brought some movers and shakers from Silicon Valley for four days of events for the Helsinki startup community. Just as Steve Blank week got people buzzing last autumn, this week’s event has really has become a movement that has gotten the community can rally around. Visiting Helsinki was Russel Simmons, the co-founder of Yelp; Sami Inkinen, the co-founder and President at Trulia; Paul Bragiel, co-founder at I/O Ventures, and Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.

The discussions of the week hit a variety of needed topics like how to build Helsinki into a startup hub, how to get started as an entrepreneur, and the VC situation in Finland. I particularly appreciate the group’s focus on the funding side of the equation because it’s a common complaint that Finnish VC’s and Angels need to get more on Silicon Valley’s level.

AaltoES also was sure to squeeze every second out of the week with a down-to-the-minute schedule that kept the group moving from place to place. Some were also more relaxed, like a founders’ cruise on an old wooden sailboat, while other put the group in front of government officials. The main event officially part of Founders’ Week took place yesterday, where each of the founders detailed how they started their companies, and the factors that attributed to their success.

I wrote earlier this week that these events grow the hype and energy level in Finland, but so far Helsinki doesn’t have its iconic startups. I wasn’t trying to be harsh on Finland, but I want to double down on the idea that we need events like these to help teach entrepreneurs and investors the speed, scale, and culture of Silicon Valley. We have our role models in Helsinki, but we need to take these founders’ knowledge and build companies where Stanford’s entrepreneurship society invites founders from Helsinki.

Tonight the week is cumulating with Startup Sauna’s Demoday. I don’t believe any more tickets are available, but it should be a great finish to the week.