Where Are Helsinki's Big Startups?

    When I go abroad I like bragging to people how much the startup scene is popping in Helsinki right now. Just going to an event or talking to entrepreneurs you get the sense that a bigger movement is happening around you, and you can feel a palpable sense of energy in the air. But after telling someone about the Helsinki scene, I usually get asked what the big startups coming out of Helsinki are right now. And I hate to say it, but I really don’t know what to tell them after that. “Uhh, Rovio?”

    Founders Week is kicking off here in Helsinki today, which got me thinking about this question. Last September we saw the “Helsinki Spring” christened at a similar event by Steve Blank, the seasoned entrepreneur, investor, and sage of digital entrepreneurship. Steve Blank Week did it’s job last August by really bringing a good amount of entrepreneurial hype and wisdom to entrepreneurs and government officials.

    While I don’t expect miracles in nine months, I’m still curious what this growing entrepreneurial hype is able to translate into. Are we breeding wantrepreneurs and well-that’s-a-nice-feature type startups, or can hype really motivating anything disruptive? Lets compare Helsinki to Stockholm, a city with arguably an even looser-knit (or perhaps less accessible) entrepreneurial community. They’ve churned out Spotify, Wrapp, iZettle, which are disruptive in their industries and show a high growth potential. What’s attributive to this success?

    I think our industry-focused startups are doing well and have successfully turned into solid businesses. Eniram comes to mind, and Alexstra is damn ambitious and might become the next runaway Finnish success. Does Helsinki just not do consumer-focused startups well? Or are they still being built?

    We’ll be hosting a panel discussion on this topic at ArcticEvening Helsinki, taking place on June 14th, but before then I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. How do you answer the question: What are Helsinki’s big (disruptive/growth potential) startups?