Working At A Helsinki Startup From A Stanford MBA's Perspective

    The last couple of weeks we’ve seen a lot more people from Stanford and Silicon Valley in Helsinki than usual, perhaps mostly due to the Accel REE conference, which I still need to write something up about. But last week I spoke with two MBA students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business who are working on a short-term project at Kiosked, and I thought it might be interesting to get an outside-looking-in perspective of what they’ve experienced here.

    Zach Singleton, one of the students originally from Oakland, says that he found out about Kiosked a year ago when he was reading tech blogs and was intrigued with Kiosked’s potential for mobile monetization. “It’s an innovative platform that changes how we shop and experience advertisements,” he says.

    So he went on LinkedIn, and got in touch with a Stanford VC who had advised Kiosked. He and Jose Zabia-Bolado pitched their idea of innovating on Kiosked’s mobile entry into the U.S. markets, and were welcomed onboard for their project.

    At Kiosked they’re working on understanding where the market is, where it’s evolving, and then finding where the opportunities are in order to bring Kiosked into a completely different market. At their project they said they’ve had complete autonomy from day one, and have enjoyed working closely with the co-founders and product development to devise a winning strategy.

    “They wanted us to run with our ideas and think outside the box with how to take mobile to new markets,” says Singleton.

    They’ve participated at events like the Helsinki Startup Meetup, and found the entrepreneurs they’ve talked to are very ambitious and optimistic. They said the panel discussion was similar to something you would see in Silicon Valley, but the event was a lot smaller than something you would see in California. Still, they point out there is strength in that in terms of finding people to collaborate with instead of being lost in the crowd.

    Singleton points out that he has maybe also seen a different attitude towards risk here. Zabia-Bolado, who is originally from Spain, agrees that Europeans are more averse to risk than Americans but, “here they have the people, successful ventures, and they’re starting to get on the right track. It’s not the States still, but it’s getting there.”

    “As Russia starts to open up more, I think Finland is extremely well positioned to take advantage of that opportunity,” says Singleton.