Renewal of the companies is on the mind of every CEO. Not to learn more but to break the patterns. It´s easy to learn new stuff, but difficult to unlearn. We go back to our habits unless something becomes a habit.
Break the patterns
All Nestholma coaches took part of Tony Robbins 4-day seminar in London. We are here to learn how to become better coaches. Tony Robbins made us experience. He made us repeat. Breaking our patterns and repeating new ones, so it becomes us. And that´s what corporations also need.
I also had a pleasure to listen to professor Liisa Välikangas earlier this week. She talked about “active waiting”. It means that people have to be learning to be ready for the unknown future. When I listened to her I realized that a startup accelerator is an active waiting tool. You don´t learn how to play soccer by analyzing it from the distance. You have to play it. And you have to play it when the game starts. Most of the times organizations don´t understand that the new game has already started. Some key players understand the importance and the urgency to change, but most of the people don´t.
Nordea`s CDO Ewan Mcleod answered with one word why startups are good for learning purposes: “FAST” and he continues: “we have to be fast”. And that happens only if the patterns of the old behavior has changed. And when people have been “actively waiting” they can act when needed.
Happy labor day! Let´s change the patterns of the labor, wait actively and act fast.
An old story; Plato asked Socrates to educate him. Socrates pushed Plato into the water and kept him there without oxygen. He punched and kicked to get free, but Socrates was a strong man and held him down. Finally, Plato blacked out due to lack of oxygen. Only then, Socrates pulled him ashore and resuscitated him. When Plato regained consciousness, he accused Socrates of trying to drown him. But Socrates explained, “If that had been my intention, I would not have pulled you ashore.” “Then why did you do that?” Plato demanded. Socrates calmly replied, “When you desire my knowledge like you desired that breath of air, then you shall have it.”
So that is how we’ll start our next accelerator. Startups be warned =)
But seriously that’s the thing we are looking for. We are looking for the smartest ones that want to learn and want it just as much as Plato wanted oxygen.
I started thinking about all this when I was visiting one of our portfolio companies (and the northernmost startup in the world) YeyNey at Spitsbergen. There we were transported with dogsleds and I was admiring the eagerness of dogs to work. It was the same kind of eagerness that Socrates wanted Plato to have.
We are looking for startups who want to learn the problems of customers as eagerly as Plato and are as keen as the huskies to solve them.
We have done 19 accelerators mainly for global companies. 1-3 locations at the time. Being inside the corporations’ offices with startups. It’s a must. That’s the best way to deliver co-developed innovations for banks and bank customers. Corporations also buy learning from us. Learning to become like startups. They also want to learn how to cooperate with startups. And it only happens when they work with startups… (well, that’s self-evident =)).
Corporations really value the hands-on way how we run accelerators, but even with us, they face a real problem: how can they attract the best startups?
Solution to Banks: collaboration
Banks need to support each other to attract the best fintech startups. Globally. Best parts of a global and local accelerator. Each bank will have their own local accelerator and after the accelerator, each bank will participate in workshops/boot camps with the startups they see useful for them. And the startups are more bank compliant. That means, they’re easier to collaborate with.
Nestholma Global Fintech Accelerator attracts a large number of startups
Startups will join because they will have a fast track to all participating banks. During the accelerator, each startup cooperates with the bank they are located in. And when the program is done they will have a fast track to all participating banks.
So, we give startups our accelerator support and access to many banks. And that’s a promise they want to hear. And then we get more applications from the best fintech startups. A clear win-win. Yes to global. Yes to local.
I would like to have a discussion with all parties about this. Why is this the winning model? Why not? What should we have more/less? Let’s discuss!
Read more about the Global Fintech Accelerator here:
…or equally bad. When the head of Y-combinator had invested into 720 startups, he said that he can’t predict which of his investments will be successful. We can’t either. Because these are already the best ones and they all should succeed.
Out of 100 startups I have invested in, 3 are bankrupted and some are receiving XX millions of funding. And I was not able to predict that. The fact is that none of us can predict all of the investments right. So now I am trying to learn from our team’s decision making. I am also making a prediction. Let’s see if I’ll be right with it.
But seriously, we have not yet done single unicorns so Y-combinator is clearly ahead of us. But we try harder =).
We invested in all startups on Nordea Fintech Accelerator and today’s pick is Collectly.co
Their promise: increase effect 3-4 fold and do it 90% cheaper. Not a bad promise for a debt collection company. To do that they use AI and profile the debtor. They do profiling by using many sources and automating it all. Then they approach the debtor with the message and channel most effective for this kind of profile. All this automated. The system also keeps on learning to increase the efficiency. Simple stuff and strong value add.
They had relevant experience from the field. They had the tech skills as well as an ability to make people listen. They worked well together. I did not find any red flags. But one. I was wondering will they have the attitude “I’ve been there and done that, don’t tell me what to do”. Because the best teams are strong and skilled, yet able to listen and learn. Almost an impossible combination =). But that fear did not materialize. The opposite happened. They were cooperative and also brilliant in using us. And they still do. They make me talk with investors to share our experiences. And because they deliver, it’s easy to talk about them.
The best teams are strong and skilled, yet able to listen and learn.Tweet about it!
So how do we at Nestholma make investment decisions?
We look for great teams with simple, understandable big value add. So, one should always remember to ask the following questions from himself: are the benefits to customers big enough and will they understand it easily? Can the team deliver it? It’s as simple as that.
Ask: are the benefits to customers big enough and will they understand it easily? Can the team deliver it?Tweet about it!
And my prediction: we’ll hear from the guys at Collectly. A lot.
I believe there are three phases of startup and corporation collaboration (all of which are needed by the way!):
One-night stands, dating, and finally marriage.
One night stands are the first contacts between startups and corporations. Mingling at startup events, arranging innovation competitions, hackathons and the like. These are needed for people to get first experiences with startups and learn how different, yet lovely they are.
Dating phase is an accelerator program. There corporations get to experience the startup way of doing things. Iterating fast, focusing on the user experience, and providing customer care that is beyond just words. They also get feel what it is to truly share information and work without silos – things that are essential for creating real innovations.
Research shows that such programs work when they are outsourced to a party that understands corporations, and even more importantly: follows “lean startup” or similar methods. Coaching in the program also has to be focused on designing the businesses so that it create value to customers, not pitching or scaling them too early (unfortunately that is what most, but not all, accelerators do). Dating may or may not include investments into startups, but at least it should include some kind of business deals with the most suitable ones.
To make all that happen, it is crucial to have commitment from the top management and resources allocated for collaboration. It is also important to be flexible to learn and adjust processes so that you can actually get the innovations from the startups.
Marriage means getting even more serious and committed to working with startups. In the startup world, marriage has to be polygamy as marriage with just one startup seldom works. There is a high risk of killing the customer orientation/speed of startups with corporate processes and rules. That is why you need to systematically work with enough startups to achieve the critical mass and also make sure the corporation learns to benefit from startups.
And that’s it, the lovely world of startups’ and corporations’ love life.
Altogether 13 startups, 3 months. And in addition, we had one startup from Industrial Bank of Korea accelerator. We have learned a lot. Nestholma has now done 21 accelerators for large corporations and we are reaching the level that we know how to start the change in corporations. I would also say that Nordea has been an amazing partner. They accept the facts and start changing when needed. The guys working for Nordea have the right attitude for cooperation. Really professional gang, but also cool to work with.
But Nestholma has a bigger mission. We are saving corporations. They need to be saved. From themselves. And startups are great tools for that. Corporations learn how to be agiler, they learn how to make decisions fast and how to design products and services with customers; and fast. But the best thing on accelerators is that startups deliver the innovations, at the speed of light…or night. I usually say that it takes a year to iterate by a corporation and a night by a startup. It is almost true =). But often corporations are also lean. Well, at least some parts of them and yet still many projects just stop. For no reason, they just are undone.
The best thing about implementing our mission is that the startups gain so much. They get the support from our partner corporation and Nestholma team, they need and they can start scaling their businesses. And for investors, we provide “bank tested” startups. Of course, some of them are better than others, but all of them are much better than they were 3 months before.
So amazing 3 months done. Not to mention Slush week; I was on stage 4 times talking to corporations as well discussing the change at Bank of Finland event. We also did investments at Slush and Ultrahack hackathon. And last week I was named on the list of TIVI top 100 most influential professionals in Finland. I guess that is also a prove that corporate startup accelerators are here to stay.
I finally got some rest during the weekend and now I feel gratitude for the amazing entrepreneurs at Nordea accelerator startups, for Nordea guys and mentors and my colleagues at Nestholma. All this happened only because of you. My sincere thank you to all.
We crowdsource innovations, product development, R&D and customer interactions. We are not replacing anything, we just provide the wisdom of thousands of people at the cost of fraction of a internal development team.
We follow the Lean Startup methodology, but from our strategic partners perspective it looks more like design thinking. We have copied some of the best practices from Google, Stanford and the ideas of analytics-driven and customer-focused product development. We go way beyond just posting the separate ideas on yellow stickers on the wall. Together with startups, we provide our partner companies ready and validated concepts to choose from. Post-it notes are excellent combined with some research and validations, but in most cases it really takes companies nowhere today. Average successful startup has 4-7 pivots. Consumers’ behavior changes faster every day and teams should learn and adjust the product based on the learnings. Only very seldom can we nowadays have step-wise process, but several simultaneous processes affecting each other with fast changes.
We bring customer and developer insight from over 500 persons per project. Because it’s their own business, they have done a lot of research themselves. What company can afford to mobilize such a huge amount of people for innovating, product development, R&D and customer interactions? Certainly many big companies do it all the time, but the expense is 100 fold compared to an accelerator program.
One has to let loose a bit to succeed in the future. Nobody can control the consumers – predicting the future usually goes wrong. At least with faster implementation of learned behavior and needs, organizations could provide more competitive products. If you plan for years to come and focus on implementation, that’s a sure way to fail. If you react based on learnings from open collaboration with your business ecosystem, you still can fail or succeed. However, if you fail, the failure is minimal compared to old school operations.
By opening up company’s ecosystem, learning is faster, financial overhead and risks are lower, and the number of of new product ideas is far greater than before. And we are talking about validated ideas, because quantitative assessment is crucial for us. I have to say that I am a fan of Mika Aaltonen’s work at Aalto-Strax. One thing they point out is the idea of not defining what success will look like in the future. Every company should be prepared to keep the door open for unplanned successes. Working with fast-moving and creative startups is one of the best ways to stay on top of the change and take advantage of the new business opportunities.
I was lucky enough to get a co-founder with solid scientific background from research backed by the Finnish Academy. Topi has also developed 100+ products for the biggest companies as well as for startups. Together with him we are creating a product factory producing learning and new revenue streams to large corporations. This creates also a laboratory and a collaboration environment inside the large corporations for the startups. The end-goal is of course to create the next airbnbs, twitters and facebooks. A win-win-win factory.