Posted by & filed under Fintech, Funding, Press release, Startups.

During the past couple of years Nestholma has invested into 15 Fintech startups, which is more than any other investor in Finland. The company is also one of the most international investors in Finland. Nestholma has invested in startups from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, USA, Germany, UK and Estonia among others. These startups have participated in the Fintech accelerators Nestholma has organized together with Nordea Bank.

”Fintech is going through big changes. We have a great partner in Nordea, and together we are able to find the startups that have a real potential to succeed in the industry,” says Antti Kosunen, co-founder of Nestholma.

Currently, 35% of Nestholma’s investments have been made into Fintech startups. Fintech will be also a strong focus area in the future in the Nestholma investment portfolio.

More information:
Antti Kosunen
Co-Founder
Nestholma Oy
antti (at) nestholma.com
+358 400 850200

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Corporations, Customers, General, Product development, Startups.

If you’ve dealt with both, you know that startups and big companies behave very differently. You can hear all sort of stories, from people moving from a corporate job to a startup, to entrepreneurs trying to deal with their corporate customers, to the same corporations trying to make business with startups.

What’s considered best practice in startups or in corporations is dramatically different… sometimes contradictory! And all those best practices make sense if you understand the context in which each one of them operates. In this post I try to make sense of the biggest differences between the two:

Startups Corporations
Value CUSTOMER
They are normally on a quest to solve some big problem from their customers. Something is good if it increases that impact — and turns it into a good business. They make quick prototypes or MVPs to show it to customers, to decide about changes.
PRODUCTIVITY
To beat competition, they need to focus on productivity. They need to be efficient: get the best impact with the least resources. They work with budgets to understand how the company spends. They might calculate the Return on Investment to decide about changes.
Product Development DIALOGUE
They develop the minimum version of their product —focusing on the core — and show it to customers (a few of them, the early adopters) as soon as it’s possible — sometimes before. Based on customer feedback, they take the next steps.
STUDIES
Investing at the beginning of the product development project makes better products. They normally invest resources in market studies to understand demographics and big market niches. They develop requirements to coordinate big teams.
Decisions TEST
Everything is uncertain around them, the only way to find out and decide is to test. Data in consulted, but intuition and gut feeling play a big role in decision making. Decisions are kept small and validated with customers.
ANALYSIS
In big companies, there is much at stake. In-house experts exist and are consulted for decisions. Many people are involved in the decisions. Effects are measured and tracked, and the decision process is as rational as possible.
Pace FAST
The most precious resource for startups is time. They have limited runway — the time until they run out of resources — and they have to be quick to figure out a good business model. The shorter the iteration the better: they focus on speed rather than fine tuning.
STEADY
Predictability and control are seen as positive. Coordinating is difficult, because of the size of the company. Changes might impact many people, who might have their own agendas. It’s important to limit the uncertainty in decisions and changes, and because of that, they take a long time.
Way of working GET-IT-DONE
Startups have small teams that are not very hierarchical. People tend to be a jack-of-all-trades with some specialisation. Everybody learns a bit about everything since there are no in-house experts. The way of doing things is mostly defined ad-hoc.
PROCESSES
People and departments have clear roles and responsibilities. Most of the activities have clear processes that have been optimised. This creates clarity and uniformity in the quality, but can also create bureaucracy. Everyday tasks work well and are predictable.
Communication TRANSPARENT
Communication is mostly clear, short and simple — both inside and towards the outside. New ideas are shared with the outside as much and as quickly as possible, to get feedback. Communication to customers is focused and bold, to validate assumptions.
CAREFUL
Communication is very carefully planned. Towards the outside, there is often a specialised department supervising it. Product information is normally kept secret, to keep competitors away. Internal communication is written with generalist terms so that it applies to all stakeholders, and sometimes has an internal political agenda.
Mistakes FAIL FAST
“Fail fast” has become almost a mantra among entrepreneurs. They normally pivot their business model several times, so it’s good to test assumptions, and to have them fail as soon as possible. They take risks and learn from the experience. This makes them more likely to succeed at radical innovation.
AVOID
There is so much at stake for them, that they can’t allow themselves to fail. Plans are made to minimise the chances of any mistake hitting the market. Employees have areas of expertise, in which they’re expected to have the right answers. Risk are detected and managed. This makes them good at incremental innovation, but generally not at radical innovation.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to all startups or to all corporations. Each company is different! But in our experience organizing corporate accelerator programs with Nestholma, we have seen a lot of them behave like this.

What’s your experience? Leave us a comment below!

 

What is the best way to collaborate with startups for your organization? [FREE whitepaper]

Posted by & filed under Customers, Funding, Product development, Startups.

4 out of 10 first-time entrepreneurs fail because they forget one of the basics: following their revenues and expenditure – cash flow. In established companies balance sheets and income statements are king, but for startups, it is all about following the numbers in their account: money coming in and out. It sounds very simple (and it is!), but still, I have seen way too many startups to fail because of it.

Here are the 3 common reasons this happens:

 

  1. Not checking your revenues & expenditure often enough

Looking at your finances is a tedious task. It’s quite boring, and you already have so many other important things to do. And let’s be honest: only a few of us are excited to look at the row of minus’, which is usually the case at the beginning of the startup journey. Thus we often decide to do it “tomorrow”. And more often than not, the startups notice the warning sign too late.

  1. Being too optimistic

You need to have a bit of crazy optimism when you are an entrepreneur, but not when you are estimating things like your expenses, funding needs and time x, y and z will take. Startups tend to make their estimates only a small portion of what they really are, which makes them very ill-prepared.

But why that happens? It is partly being overly optimistic & part not understanding how startups work. Things rarely work out how and when you want them to, and there are many variables you just can’t predict. The market, competition, and even the customers’ needs will change. As time goes by, you will also start to understand your customers better. All this means you will have to make adjustments to achieve better product-market fit. Startups usually pivot, i.e. change from plan A to plan B (or even to plan Z!) 3-5 times at the beginning. All this take time and money and push the time of your first sale forward. But expenses still start from day one.

That is why it is important to constantly check your cash flow and be realistic about the ‘whens’ and ‘how muchs’. When you do that, you know when you are going to be out of money and still have time to do something about it. It takes 3-6 months to get funding, investments, etc. so I can’t stress enough how important it is to knowing when you are out of money early enough. Too many startups come up to me less than a week before they were out of money and still believed they would magically make it. You can guess what really happened.

  1. Not understanding when the money is actually coming to your account

For some reason, many startups believe that when they sign a deal, their money-related problems will fly out of the window. But that is not how it works. It might take weeks, months if not even years before the money is actually in your account! It all depends on what you agreed. Also, not everyone pays their bills in time. Trust me, it happens more often that you’d think. There also might be other problems delaying payments like dealing with reclamations. But again: your expenses won’t wait. So remember: even though money is coming in, sooner or later, you might be out of money and bankrupt well before that! Ask yourself: when exactly we will get the money, and will we survive till then.

In my next post, I will give you more concrete tips on how to get your time frames and expense estimates close to reality.

 

Related post: 7 tips on how to ace your startup finances – cash-flow management

 

Posted by & filed under General, Press release, Startups, Ultrahack.

We love Ultrahack! In fact so much that invested into Ultrahack and welcomed it to our Nestholma family! Now we can both offer our partners and communities new ways to innovate through a complementary offering of hackathons and accelerators.

Ultrahack is a global innovation platform for hackers with varying backgrounds and corporations that want to innovate fast. Their active community and tournaments attract an incredible amount of talented people, who are ready to roll up their sleeves. And when these great minds work together in such an unique environment as the tournaments, the results are also amazing!

While solving the challenges the Ultrahack participants, go through an intensive learning curve. While solving real-life problems, they learn and create seeds for new innovations and opportunities. That used to be the end, but now we are excited to offer those budding startups a way to take their work to a whole new level. It is an innovation pipeline like never seen before!

“Ultrahack is the world’s best hackathon! We could not be more excited to get to work with the Ultrahack community and the partner companies,” says Topi Järvinen.

Now that we have joined forces with Ultrahack, we can also offer our customers a new kind of hackathon that complements our accelerator programs. This makes our offering to startups and corporations better than ever. This year we will also offer 1 million euros worth of investments to promising Ultrahack teams. This kind of cooperation is something completely new in the hackathon world! We are excited, and we hope you are too!