Even though this blog post will most likely be a feeble attempt in covering the importance and the effect of Steve Blank’s visit to Finland and the region last week – I’ll still have an attempt at it. Last week was packed full of action and discussion where Steve Blank talked not only with entrepreneurs but politicians, MPs and academia. He also upped entrepreneurship a few notches on the editorial importance for some of Finland’s newspapers as he talked to a group of editors-in-chief (including us) why entrepreneurship is of vital importance to nations’ success.
Steve Blank was visiting Finland last week to promote the importance of a working entrepreneurial ecosystem to the region. I have a feeling his visit will go down in one of those turning points in history for this part of the world. Not only did he incite more flames into the “Finnish spring” as he referred to the entrepreneurial revolution taking place in Finland, but he did so in a manner that politicians, mainstream media and academics can understand.
During the week, he met with two ministers, two MPs, thousands of entrepreneurs & students, carried out 12 lectures, participated in four panels and gave about nine interviews. To make all this possible, the people at AaltoES organized his trip and put all the important pieces in place. Kudos to them!
Steve Blank also visited Estonia and was quick to comment; “Met the Estonian startup scene for lunch. World-class guys, unique ecosystem.More Skypes coming from this group. Thx for making me smarter.”
Steve Blank week’s highlights can be read from the blog that focused on his visit and in no way will I try to cover all the above mentioned bits into this post. Actually, that isn’t as relevant as what he accomplished with his visit.
Steve Blank’s visit to the region sent shivers throughout society as media gave due attention to his message. Blank was also honest in teaching the media how they should report on startups and the scene in general. He gave an example with Mårten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL, still being pissed off about how the Finnish media covered their $1 billion exit in 2008. As opposed to applauding these everyday heroes, media downplayed the sale as an unpatriotic act.
In addition to getting the media to understand the importance of entrepreneurship, Blank also preached to the politicians. Having participated in some of the events throughout the week, it’s incredibly difficult to understand how politicians have the situation under control. By situation I mean the creation of jobs into the economy.
He furthermore outlined that entrepreneurial activities from the government should be always temporary by nature and should aim at putting themselves out of business over time. These days many activities are still seen more as employment programs for government workers instead of truly helping the cause.
He commented on startups and the government, “having government officials choose the winners of tomorrow from the startup scene is like having a priest give you sex advice – it just doesn’t work”.
While startups and people in the region might feel that quality of companies isn’t good enough to take over the world, Blank saw otherwise. He said numerous times that while the ecosystem is still evolving and finding its shape – the quality of startups is equal to that of Silicon Valley.
Not only did he praise the quality, he put his money where his mouth is. Before the end of the week, he wrote cheques to two of the Startup Sauna companies that pitched him. To which startups and how much he invested, he did not disclose.
Regardless of the disclosure, Steve Blank truly came, saw and conquered the region with his charisma. AaltoES did a truly great job in organizing the week and putting the pieces in place to start changing Finland and the region into one of the leading startup hubs of the world.
Steve Blank week may be over, but the effects of his visit are just beginning to show. The “Finnish spring” is truly on its way.
About 600-700 people waiting for Steve Blank’s keynote to begin at the Aalto University Economics Building.