There are only a few eternal values for any startup out there: networking, mentoring and access to potential investors. Still, only in a couple of places you can find all of these at once. inSelly was lucky to get into one of them � Startup Sauna accelerator in Espoo, a cozy neighborhood of Helsinki, Finland. We were a part of the 11th batch and spent 5 weeks with 13 other promising startups from the Baltics and Nordics to foster a rapid growth of our company. This is our story�
While packing bags for Helsinki, we were thinking what was in there for us. We hoped to get some actionable advice on how to structure business processes inside the company and properly spend those 80% of time on 20% of things that give the best result. Eventually, we got plenty of knowledge! There were several workshops on business model canvas, customer development and agile company management. Even though the presented information was well known before, it was good to be prepared to �digest� it again. In Startup Sauna, away from the daily routine, we got a lot more focused and 100% ready-to-absorb knowledge.
Team building and community
Startup Sauna becomes a working camp for the startup�s team. You spend all of your time together constantly speaking about your company, thinking about your company and dreaming about your company. It�s truly amazing how many awesome ideas you can generate while living in this never-ending working mode. Besides, it�s such a great team building activity!
Of course, the community is also a huge bonus. In Startup Sauna you work shoulder to shoulder with over a dozen of startups from various industries that are at the same stage as your company. Each and every member of these teams has his/her own expertise, experience and insights that might be extremely valuable to your startup. And Startup Sauna guys do their best to facilitate the networking process: traditional Wednesday barbecue parties, group assignments and outdoor activities ensure a friendly and relaxed atmosphere where knowledge sharing is an essential part of the whole fun. We�ve got countless priceless advices, already use services of one of our peer startup companies and plan to cooperate with another one. Not to mention making friends with so many cool people all over Europe.
Pitching and fundraising
The Startup Sauna�s program is heavily focused on getting your art of pitching to the next level. Every Tuesday is devoted to the pitch training, and that�s quite a challenge. Pitching coaches � Juha, Mike and Appe � might get really tough on those who don�t learn the lesson fast! Yet, this is a positive stress that motivates you to step out of the comfort zone and push it to the limit.
Finally, I want to talk about fundraising. Startup Sauna ensures you meet with as many potential investors as possible. It�s your task then to get them impressed, and that�s where the pitching and all the previous coaching come into place. If you�ve been working hard, the chances are high you�ll get some interest from the local VCs and angels. You know, the venture capital market in Finland is pretty active at the moment.
These were only a few out of many great things inSelly got from the participation in the Startup Sauna program, but the benefits of acceleration will last long after the graduation. There is now a bunch of smart people that we can turn to whenever there�s a need for a good advice; a lot of tools and techniques that we�ll gradually implement in our daily work as well as a warm feeling of community that is ready to support. All in all it was a very positive experience that I will definitely recommend to Latvian early-stage startups that are looking to rocket-start their business!
Photo credit: Jaakko Kahilaniemi