Following my recent Q&A with Timo Ahopelto he decided to ask his Facebook followers what they think are the reasons behind the blossoming Finnish startup ecosystem. The answers were many and reflected the passion – and of course, consensus – among the relatively small group of “founding fathers”.
The cream of the crop of the Finnish startup ecosystem took a break from their busy schedules (or vacationing) to offer their two cents to Timo’s question.
“I’d say somewhere around 2008-2009, when three things happened: ArcticStartup was founded, first Slush was organized and AaltoES (Aalto Entrepreneurship Society) was kicked off. I guess pretty much everything else followed”
Peter Vesterbacka, Formerly Mighty Eagle at Angry Birds, founder of Slush and MobileMonday.
“First Slush was in 2008, Aaltoes got started in 2009 and the ecosystem has been growing stronger ever since. I think a key ingredient has been Slush, i.e doing stuff differently. Cold. Dark. Slush on the ground. Not the Silicon Valley. Better. Because different. The World is full of wannabe Silicon Valleys that are pretty clueless about ecosystems.”
“I would claim that the full ecosystem formed around Startup Sauna 2011-2012 when all the entrepreneurs and investors were also lured in 😉 and then Slush started gaining ground.”
Ville Vesterinen, EIR at Reaktor Ventures
“…The real watershed moment for Finland came when the group of at-the-time students decided that startups are important for the country’s future. Setting the tone for the country by first forming AaltoES, StartupSauna and by single handedly making Slush the success it is. Community effort wins every time. Anything else would be missing the point. And by looking at how much current AaltoES, Sauna, StartupLife and Slush teams are getting done now, clearly we’ve barely started considering what will happen in the next 10. Similarly the strong early stage investment landscape that has been built by many on this thread is essential piece for the thriving Finnish scene of today.
Equally important are rockets like Rovio and Supercell to set the baseline and scale up our dreaming. I also echo Peter ‘s point about the importance of Finland being confidently Finland and not playing by SV’s or anyone else’s rules. Now that students have built us the foundation Finland’s ready for escape velocity just as Timo coined it with the coming “Finland’s entrepreneurial renaissance” suggesting a new wave of entrepreneurial spirit. Never underestimate the ability of a small country of dedicated people to change the world.”
Riku Asikainen, Chairman of FiBAN – Finnish Business Angels Network
“I would like to emphasize Slush/Aalto ES as well, but add also Tekes NIY program with then new early stage investors ( both Vigo Accelerator side and Tesi backed VC’s. ). Also Fiban was founded in 2010. After that it was all about Rovio and then Supercell.”