Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Banking, Fintech.

Last week it was finally time to get the accelerator started at OTP Bank! We have worked hard with OTP Bank to prepare for it, and we couldn’t wait. We were looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work with the startups and their counterparts at OTP Bank. Based on the selection period, we had high expectations, and lucky for us, so far it seems like we weren’t wrong!

The first week was a whirlwind of introductions and clarification

On day one we got to know the startups better, and they got to know us better. But even more importantly: the got to know their collaboration partner OTP Bank better. The startups met with their business champion (who will help them develop a good business case for both sides) and mentor (who will guide them through the organization). They worked together to define the moving parts of the collaboration and the next steps for the three months that they’ll be here. When we say we do collaboration and aim for win-win deals between startups and banks, we really mean it! During the first week, we also had the departments of Architecture, Procurement, and Innovation discuss the journey that the startups will go through, into collaborating with OTP Bank.

When selecting the startups, we pay attention to the startups’ potential. But even more importantly, we pay attention to how much of a good match they are for the bank. Many excellent startups applied but just weren’t right for OTP Bank. And of course, vice versa. It’s important to us to make sure there is potential for real, win-win collaboration.

Startups got to meet all the people supporting their journey

On week two, we’ve drilled further into the value that the startups can bring to OTP Bank’s customers, and to OTP Bank. We’ve worked on crystallizing their message. In big organizations, many people are involved in a partnership. And if they can’t understand quickly where the core value is, things get stuck easily.

Additionally, innovation includes uncertainty by definition. We also worked hard on how finding out what the startups need to validate (or find out), and on what they need to test, show or pilot. In the startup world, people talk a lot about Minimum Viable Products. In innovation, that’s actually not a new concept… the only difference is that many people call it ‘pilots’ or ‘proof of concept’!

The selection of the startups was tough, but it paid off

The past two weeks, it’s been a pleasure working with such brilliant startups. We have strong and ambitious teams, that are quickly learning how to navigate inside the organization to bring value. And OTP Bank’s business champions and mentors have been great at thinking big, and looking at the startups, not as the company they are at the moment, but at the great partner they can become in the future.

Here’s a glimpse of our rising stars:


AdviceRobo: advanced scoring and predictive analytics to improve lending and insurance.

Alo Agri: connects small and medium agriculture farms with food and beverage businesses, to discover each other and do business, using blockchain.

Keystroke DNAenables behavioral biometrics authentication security into any web application in minutes.

Family Finances: a digital financial ecosystem for families and banks integrating payment services, savings, PFM, and EduTech functions to create more conscious finances at home.

Fintech Blocksa banking innovation platform which enables banks to integrate with fintechs in a faster, easier and cheaper way.

Prais: Online real estate valuation platform used to calculate market price of real estates and compare neighborhoods in terms of quality of living.

Scanye: a self-learning platform that saves accountants’ time and money on invoice processing.

Trackometrix: like Google Analytics for physical outlets. A B2B SaaS cloud platform for consumer tracking and data visualization using CCTV cameras and face recognition.

OTP Bank and Nestholma accelerator in full swing

All in all, the start of the accelerator has been great, and we can’t wait to see what innovations the next three months will bring for OTP Bank and its customers!


Related post: Why OTP Bank wants to work with startups

Posted by & filed under Human Resources, Innovation, Organizational learning, skills, Startups.

The rapidly changing world requires corporations to re-think all aspects of their organizations. They need to renew their strategies, operations and the way they organize their resources. Some of the most successful companies have realized startups are a good tool for fostering organizational renewal. They understand that in today’s world, they cannot only rely on their in-house resources.

By building relationships within a broader ecosystem of organizations, corporations can mobilize relevant expertise and talent to address unexpected challenges whenever they arise. Bill Joy, the co-founder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems once said:

“no matter how smart the people are within your organization, you should always remember that there are a lot more smart people outside your organization”.

Corporations are increasingly confronted with new and unexpected situations. These situations often go beyond the textbooks and operating manuals. It requires leaders to improvise on the spot and to come up with new approaches. They need to develop new knowledge and skills about what works and what doesn’t work in these new situations. This is where startups come handy.


Why startups are the best teachers for corporations

Startups have an agile mindset that they use for business and product development. When startups launch and grow their business, they face an environment of extreme uncertainty and change. But with their agile company culture, they are able to embrace and adapt to market changes. They can turn uncertainty into opportunity, and flourish when other businesses fail. By collaborating with startups, corporations can also learn and adopt this way of working.

Corporations can also develop and learn skills needed in disruptive environments. While the old skills might not become obsolete, but everyone needs to find new ways of using the old skills in the new environments. That is why it is important to include the human resources departments in the collaboration. Then the collaboration will work as a way of building both the company and its employees.

There are a variety of benefits how working with startups can make your employees better and prepared for the rapidly changing world. Here are  7 of them. These can help your organization prepare for disruption and organizational renewal.

1.Better change agents

In order to keep up with the volatile business environment, corporations are trying different ways to foster new innovations. One way how they innovate internally is through the practice of entrepreneurship.

This type of internal innovation requires employees that are called entrepreneurs, or also known as intrapreneurs. An intrapreneur is someone who works within a company. It is someone who takes risks as an effort to solve given problems and to transform innovative ideas into value. They are employees who have many similar attributes as entrepreneurs. A famous example of an intrapreneur is Ken Kutaragi. He was a  junior Sony Employee, who spent hours tinkering with his daughters Nintendo to make it more powerful and user-friendly. What came from his work is one of the most recognizable brands in the world today, The Sony PlayStation.

Involve your intrapreneurs

Intrapreneurs have a mindset that helps to drive innovation. It also allows them to discover opportunities in the challenging and ever-changing business environment. Because intrapreneurs are excellent brainstormers and ideas-sharers, they are also the most likely individuals to reach out and engage their peers in problem-solving across the company. That said, they work within the organization as the agents of change. They are the most fundamental component of an innovative and growing company as they help the company to succeed and grow.

When collaborating with startups it is important to consider including also some people with these traits into the process. They are a great tool for further improving internal learning and fostering change. Through allowing them to collaborate with startups, these people can learn the skills needed in disruptive environments. They can learn how to navigate uncertainty and bring ideas forward. The intrapreneurs can be engaged in the collaboration as being mentors or advisors for the startups. And as mentioned earlier, intrapreneurs are great at engaging with their peers. This means that they can further spread the skills they learned while working with startups and be the agents of change.

2. Employees have better transversal skills

T-shape profiles, that describe people with deep knowledge of one topic, and a broad knowledge of other topics have been seen to be better drivers of innovation than I-shape profiles, which in turn illustrate people with highly versed abilities in a specific area of expertise.

When it comes to complex problems that are more difficult to solve, interdisciplinary teams provide the most value. This means that as the world is becoming more and more complex, T-shaped profiles are the way to pull through. The T-shaped skill sets must constantly be developed and broadened in terms of general knowledge. And at the same time, specialized knowledge needs more narrowing down. Being a specialist for one thing and a generalist for a few others gives a really powerful combination.

Startups are known for their agile teams that are both cross-functional and self-organizing. Typically, all members have some specific competencies as well as more general competencies. This allows them to deliver everything by themselves and work together efficiently. In agile teams, there is no room for general project managers.

When working with startups, employees are exposed to different areas of knowledge. For instance customer development, lean innovation methodologies or digitalization. This broadens their knowledge of other areas and contributes to them becoming a T-shape profile. This allows them to become more capable of responding creatively to unexpected situations in uncertain environments.

3. Employees become more aware of the external changes affecting the company

In corporations, it is easy to get stuck in day-to-day activities. As a consequence, big changes in technology and in the industry sometimes become ignored. This might then make it difficult for the company to respond to the changes in an effective way.

In order to stay competitive, companies need to anticipate the most significant technology trends that are shaping their business. And is essential for them to develop innovative ways how to use these technologies. They need to find ways to take advantage of them, both inside and outside the company. And it is important to remember that if it can be done, it will be done. And that if it is not your company, it will be someone else who uses these technologies to create competitive advantage.

Startups are good at navigating these changes. They are also excellent at detecting and unlocking emerging demand. Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell explains that working with startups is a key strategy for building a more entrepreneurial and innovative corporate culture. Similarly, the Dutch multinational bank, Rabobank, presents that working with startups allows them to establish a culture of constant internal learning about future trends and technologies.

Employees know what is happening in the industry & technology, and know how to use it to the company’s benefit

By working with startups and by involving the entire company in the process, employees become more empowered to think about the implications that external change has on the company.

Examples of external change could be changes in government, technology, customer needs and the way how competitors do business. By involving employees in the process allows them to become more familiar with the trends and the opportunities they offer.

Let’s take Big Data as an example. Big data and analytics are hot growth areas, not only for IT organizations but for businesses across all industries. Today’s data can include social media posts, customer journey information, Internet of things (IoT) data, and more. When employees engage with big data startups, they become more familiar with the trend. They also become familiar with the various opportunities it offers for the company.

Through working with startups, employees learn what big data really is. It also makes them think how is big data going to affect their company in the future and how is it already affecting them. They will most likely consider the ways in which their company could also take advantage of the trend.

Startups help corporates create awareness of future trends and the potential of new technologies. Employees become more aware of the environment and the external changes that affect the company. They learn to understand the new challenges that lie ahead of them. As a result, they become more empowered to generate necessary internal innovations.

4. Better contact network among the areas that are potentially disruptive

Henry Chesbrough, the father of open innovation once stated: “external sources become necessary key players in the process of turning ideas into a business”. This points out that, in today’s ever-changing world, companies cannot rely only on their in-house resources. Instead, it is necessary to identify people outside the organization, who can assist in organizational renewal and support all innovation efforts.

The assumption that “most smart people in our field work for us” is no longer valid. Nowadays, companies should to think “not all smart people work for us, so we must find and tap into the knowledge and expertise of bright individuals outside of our company”.

Successful companies have realized that in order to renew their business, they must open their internal processes and interact with other players in the ecosystem. By doing this, they are able to identify new people who can assist them in organizational renewal and support all innovation efforts.

Working with startups is a great tool for interacting and identifying relevant expertise. By collaborating with startups, organizations are able to obtain a large network of entrepreneurs. Not only are the companies exposed to the expertise and skills of the entrepreneurs, but they also become exposed to the entrepreneur’s network of people. Meaning that companies become exposed to an ever larger pool of talent that can be a useful asset when driving internal innovation. The corporation can get access to relevant contacts of startups, venture capitalists, and associations. They can use this network to find the best external resources for the problem or opportunity they are exploring.

5. Better execution capabilities

Today’s business environment is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The companies that have adapted quickly, acted with urgency, and continued to innovate are the ones that have been successful. Too often though, companies struggle with these factors. Why?

Well, running a large company is highly complex. Corporations often have strict structures and formal processes restricting fast execution. Ideas go through a long path of managers, boardrooms, and decision-makers. And as you can imagine, decisions tend to move slowly.

In contrast to corporations, startups are known for their execution capabilities. Fast execution is the “secret sauce” that differentiates a successful startup from a failed one. Startups deliberately choose a strategy that favors speed and small iterations over delayed perfection. This is the winning strategy, often spotted in every high-growth startup journey.

Many corporations do a great job at collecting new ideas from employees and other sources.  But the difference to startups is that they move too slowly. They lack the ability to experiment, iterate and execute quickly. The good news is that even large companies can imitate the rhythm of startups.

By working with startups, corporations become exposed to the startup’s way of working & learn from them

Corporations can create an entrepreneurial mindset among their employees through exposing them to agile teams, lean approaches, and fresh thinking. This enables employees to identify and learn the required skills to execute faster.

By involving employees in the startup collaboration they are exposed to a more simplified process of decision making. The employees become to realize that speed of execution requires clarity of short term goals, building consensus in urgency, teamwork to execute actions and the willingness to change course if needed. By adopting these skills employees become to feel more empowered and willing to fully contribute to short term goals. They then begin to act with speed and they further communicate the sense of urgency to everyone in the organization.

6. Employees that think in a sharper way

Corporations sometimes fall into using vague expressions and abstract terms when they communicate with their stakeholders (employees, customers shareholders, and partners). They use long, complicated words, abbreviations and acronyms. They fill in sentences with words such as  “value-add” or “incentivize”, creating a false sense of urgency. Unfortunately using this type of corporate jargon often leads to misconceptions as this type of language is difficult to understand.

These vague and abstract terms do not only prevent clarity but is also prevents trust. When fuzzy expressions or abstract language is used, listeners are more likely to believe that the speaker is lying. This is because abstract language evades facts and is sometimes intended to confuse. Or even worse, the speaker is trying to hide his or hers lack of knowledge.

Instead of using these vague words, companies should focus on effective communication.

Effective communication improves the organization’s ability to engage its’ employees and to achieve objectives

It also influences the effectiveness of change management, company culture, team effectiveness and productivity as well as the overall performance of the business. When communication is done right employees are more passionate about their jobs and have a better relationship with the company.

Startups have effective communication systems. because they have to. They realize that without well-functioning communication it is impossible to react to market dynamics, make quick decisions and delegate correctly. Startups develop fast and it is crucial that the people involved are aware of what is happening. It affects the success of the business as well as the spirit of the team.

Through working with startups corporations expose their employees to understanding new ways of communication. They begin to understand that it is more important to get the message right than getting the message out. Employees learn to avoid abstract terms and instead concentrate on clear communication. This further improves the overall performance of the company.

7. More spin-offs

When corporations and their employees are exposed to working with startups, they become more aware of what being an entrepreneur means. They learn and obtain skills relevant for developing and executing a business idea. And as a result, more employees start considering becoming entrepreneurs themselves.

These employees often want to partner with the corporation they used to work with since a great part of their network is there. This can result in the formation of a corporate spin-off. A spin-off is a new company that is formed from an existing corporation. They are typically founded by entrepreneurs who have already worked in the same company or industry.

Interestingly, studies show that these firms perform often better than others. They are more likely to survive, grow quickly, and earn larger profits. And as a result, they have recently become an important part of every successful entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Clayton Christensen who is the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation says that sometimes the culture of existing corporations is so strong that it come in the way of disruptive innovation. He suggests that setting up a spin-off from an organization is a good way to succeed in transformation. Spin-offs offer organizations the opportunity for outsourced innovation. In other cases, it can also make easier workforce restructuring, in which the employees are happy to explore different options.

In short

By adapting to change and by renewing entire business, companies are able to stay competitive in the ever-changing and complex business environment. And in order to achieve this, companies need to focus on renewing their attitude, culture, and skills. Some companies have realized that a great tool for this is to collaborate with startups.

Those companies that choose to collaborate with startups learn how to embrace change. They learn how to be agile, and they learn how to make renewal part of their DNA. Through this, they are able to foster their internal culture and learning.

Through working with startups they learn to understand what’s going on in the volatile business environment. They gain an understanding of future trends and technologies, as well as learn to find new business models. Working with startups can create a culture of constant internal learning. Focusing on this type of impact is the only way how to prepare the organization for actual disruption. It prepares the corporation to disrupt its own business if needed before competitors or new players do.


Want to learn more? Book a FREE 45-minute consultation.


Posted by & filed under Banking, Fintech.

Is your startup going to be the next big thing in fintech? Do you have the AI, blockchain or cryptocurrency solution of the future? Or other innovation that is going to change how we do banking? And most importantly, do you want to collaborate with top banks from all over the world?

We are looking for the top fintech startups to work with top banks with over 100 million customers.

Make us love you and will make the banks love you more

Convince us you are what banks need, and you will be part of the selected top startups we introduce to these banks. Introduce, help collaborate, help succeeded in any way that is needed. Because that’s what we do. We help banks find the best startups. We help startups get the deals done with banks. And if you are one of those startups, we will make sure you are working with those top banks.

The best startups will also get a fast track to the OTP Bank Startup Accelerator. You can start your journey by collaborating with a bank with 14,5 million customers, presence in 9 countries, and leading position in their home market.

The road from application to working with the top banks:Apply at F6S, do a virtual pitch and get selected. Simple as that!

Why should a fintech startup work with Nestholma?

We are working with banks globally. They need you.

They are actively looking to work with startups. We know what they are looking for. And we know whose door to knock. We introduce the best startups to tens of banks every year.

We also introduce our best fintechs to investors.

We run onsite accelerators inside banks’ premises, but we also have promised to introduce them startups. Sometimes relationships are really tight, sometimes we just open the door. And what really matters is that our bank partners have over 100 million customers. If you want to reach them, work with us.

Send us your application latest by February 4th. But be fast: we have only 3 spots available and we will start filling those already during the application time!

We will announce the winners on February 9, so stay tuned!


Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Banking, Fintech.

Some of the most exciting times of my work are the accelerator periods. It is thrilling to work with the great minds in startups and the partner bank. So much happens every week and I am always amazed when looking back at what really went on. The accelerators are real adventures!

And as we work with early-stage startups the accelerators don’t only show a glimpse into the newest new of the industry, but the future of the industry! If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will. Did I already say accelerators are my favorite time…😉

And now it’s time for the next adventure: the Selection Bootcamp of our OTP Bank accelerator just started today! And that means we have the next exciting accelerator adventure ahead of us. But before that, it is time to get to know the finalists and find the startups that best match our partner the OTP Bank.

29 fintech startups from all over the world!

After a rigorous selection process, we have now an amazing group of 29 startups from all over the world with us at the Selection Bootcamp. Literally all over the world. From the United States, India, Sweden, Hungary, Nigeria, Australia, Israel… altogether from 15 different countries! Innovations really are global!

If the home countries of the startups are vast so is the range of innovations:

They have solutions to safety. Fraud prevention for agriculture. Biometrics authentication for online logins. Safety against theft for physical stores. There are new ways of dealing with mortgages and buying homes. For transportation. New solutions to making huge amounts of data digestible and useful for your every-day people. Solutions changing the way we do online shopping. Startups changing how we do loans: Instant credit assessment. Credit decisions based on online reputation. P2P lending. And innovations that help make kids finance-savvy – finally!

And that’s just a quick look at the startups at the Selection Bootcamp! This week will really be a time travel into the future!

During the next couple of days, we will test the startups, really get to know them. But the startups will also test us. We will have workshops on validating, developing products, MVPs, and much more – a real sneak peek into the accelerator. It is going to be an intense week with a packed schedule. But we are excited, and we hope the startups are as excited too!  

So, startups: let’s get to know each other, challenge each other and learn together as much as we can this week!

For the rest of you: keep your eyes peeled for more updates on these awesome startups this week!


Related post: Why OTP Bank wants to work with startups


Posted by & filed under Guest blog, Insurance, Insurtech.

This is a guest post from one of our mentors, Petri Ekman. Petri is an experienced executive with a broad and in-depth experience in financing, financial and insurance products and risk management strategies for corporate clients. Petri’s current role is the founder and owner of Elevon Consulting Oy. There he focuses on advising companies in carrying out change programmes and setting up financing solutions. 

In part one, I discussed the external factors forcing change upon the insurance industry. There is an obvious question that arises after. What is holding back insurance companies from changing their ways? Especially taking into account all of these looming threats on their horizon?

Again, I see a number of factors, many of which are universal, not insurance industry specific. Here is my list:

1. Non-life insurance is profitable

The non-life business is profitable today. That is because companies in a difficult investment environment have systematically cut their operating costs. And thus made their primary insurance business much better than before.

By embarking on a major corporate change programme, one would jeopardize cannibalizing one’s existing business. It is a big change in anyone’s mindset to disrupt one’s own good business. Not only for management but also for shareholders. Profitability feeds complacency, which might be justified but is probably baseless in light of the pace of change.

2. Shortage of resources

Another element that causes slow progress is the shortage of resources. That is the result of years of cost-cutting in the industry. People with line responsibility haven’t got the time to think or innovate, even if they had budgets for it.

In incumbent companies, the established culture and people being snowed under by daily routines usually encourage thinking “inside the square”. There is no time to get an educated outside view, or such is easily discarded as irrelevant or naïve. And yes, many companies still continue to focus mainly on internally driven development, in cost-cutting by streamlining processes, introducing robotics and reducing staff, instead of starting their development work from customer needs.

3. Functional silos

In big companies, responsibilities and targets are typically walled inside functional silos. This effectively prevents cross-organizational thinking and development. This is the exact opposite of how a quick-moving start-up works. They have no silos and the customer’s need is their starting point. Hence, all work needs to be carried out cross-functionally.

4. Old, big, rigid ICT systems

And, finally, there are the ICT systems; old, big, rigid, often not storing the exact information needed for a new product or application. All too often, a minor change in the customer interface requires coders to climb down to the “boiler room”, open the hatch, and enable the desired change by writing new code to the old core system. Change done like this becomes costly. It takes a long time to complete and often causes unexpected side effects in a number of other systems.

Doomsday? Is There Anything Insurance Companies Can Do?

So, do I think the incumbents in the non-life insurance industry are doomed? No, they aren’t. But continuing on an “as is” basis will inevitably lead to a bleak future.

Some companies have opted for big projects to renew their core systems to enable more flexibility, more automation and speedier development of new applications. Another group has started from the customer interface and introduced digital-looking services with old, manual background processes. There are also incumbents with big venture capital funds for the purpose of identifying and hatching start-ups to develop the new applications.

It may be that a combination of approaches is a necessity. To develop new mobile and digital services using start-ups without immediate cost savings (or even incurring incremental operating costs) while embarking on the long and expensive project of renewing the core systems to ensure future competitiveness. One can also set up an internal ”lab”. But such risks narrowing the view on what is possible and available.

The key driver should be to concentrate on actions that ensure the incumbents a position on top of the customer value chain both in the short and the long term.

Becoming more innovative and agile internally

Most importantly, established incumbents need to rethink their old in-house development model, their silo-based structures, and collaboration between developers and business. It is inconceivable that the companies’ salaried staff would invent all the greatest ideas for new customer services. Hence, it is paramount that the incumbents create a culture and processes that function as a foundation for a client-centric ecosystem. It is the way to enable work with start-ups and more established partners to quickly innovate, test and launch new services and to come up with better processes.

Being able to develop innovative services with short lead times is crucial for insurers. That is if they want to stay highest in the value chain and maintain or win “ownership” of the customer. Companies need to structure their development work across organizational silos much more effectively than today. Irregular meetings of “representatives” of different internal practices are far from what could justifiably be called teamwork. And they do not lead to the fast development of comprehensive services.

Corporations need to break the rigid silos and start working across them.

Finally, it seems like a popular idea to circumvent the inherent inertia (and lack of resources) of the big-scale traditional business by setting up skunkworks, or development labs. That is all fine as long as the services rolled out by the labs do not need co-operation, expertise or resources from the mainline business. If they do expect co-operation between the “old” and the “new”, then collaboration is important between the two from an early stage to gain a buy-in from the existing business.

´The change the industry must embark on is huge. Companies need to rethink and redo not only their technology but also their processes and culture. And their approach to start-ups and other outside partner candidates – basically just everything.

Customer Experience – anyone interested?

Follow the money – it comes from the customers. The industry needs to start all development work from its customers’ needs and behavior. And to structure its processes to serve these needs instead of the other way around. With increasing competition and more agile and cost-effective industry entrants, time-to-market of new products and services must become markedly shorter than it is today.

The Time is Now

So far, the most formidable potential competitors in insurance, the retail platform companies, have shown only limited interest in insurance. Alibaba and Tencent own together Zhong An, a Chinese insurance company, that was listed on Hong Kong in September with a current valuation of EUR 11 billion. Amazon sells already car and health insurances in the US. If and when these giants decide to spread their insurance operations to Europe, there will be a major battle for the ownership of customers. The mega-advantage of the incumbents is the claims and health data they have collected during their decades of operation – to the extent they are able to use and analyze it.

There are also a number of still small fully digital insurance companies that are building their own network of service providers to be able to be as agile and cost-effective as possible. To the extent that the major buying driver is price, it is very hard to beat the digital guys.

Its time insurance companies get their wheels turning.

How to Solve the Equation

Incumbent insurance companies will have to shed their built-and-run-in-house mindset to even defend their current market position. They need to create a culture and ecosystems that generate a constant stream of customer service ideas that can be tested and implemented proactively. I believe that a key solution to meet these requirements is for the incumbents to learn to work actively with start-ups and other high-performance outside partners. And to even re-think the concept of friend and foe. It may be that the only way to stay in the game will be to join forces with some of the new players and their already forming ecosystems.


I believe in collaboration, both internally within an organization (please see the McKinsey article “Givers take all: The hidden dimension of corporate culture”) and externally between companies. Big companies still tend to treat their smaller partners merely as subcontractors and dictate the terms of their business relationships. In our emerging business environment, active networking and genuine collaboration as partners between enterprises regardless of size are the key to survival and success – love thy start-up!

Time to get the ball rolling? Book a free 45-minute consulting: How to change your corporate culture and get new/better business with fintechs.

Contact Antti Kosunen at [email protected] 


Related post: Insurance is about to be disrupted. Here’s why.


Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Corporations, Human Resources.

Most corporate accelerators fail in giving tangible results. Many corporations don’t even have a clear vision of what they’re trying to do with it! Some succeed in bringing only a few innovations to the market. Rarely the ones that can create real change. And most fail at changing the corporation in any meaningful way at all. This is entirely predictable. If that’s you, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Innovation is messy: you don’t know much at the beginning of the process, of what you’re going to get. Unfortunately, many people feel like they can’t prepare because of this. When it comes to corporate transformation, it’s exactly the opposite. Both sides (the startups and the corporation) must do their homework. Before and after the accelerator.

In fact, the accelerator should be no different than normal business. It accelerates the collaboration between the startups and the corporation. After that, they should both stay accelerated.

You need to have a clear vision of what you want from the accelerator

We always say at Nestholma that our acceleration programmes are a year-long cycle. One section of it is the accelerator itself. Towards the startups, investors, and the media, that’s the most visible part.


Towards the corporation, the accelerator is only the tip of the iceberg.

Much before the accelerator, the corporation needs to take a long hard look at itself. What are they open to innovate with startups?

Some corporations might be open to innovate in their core business, others not. Some might be open to giving access to customers, others not. And some corporations believe in certain technologies, others not.

So, at a strategic level, you need to think about the bigger picture. What type of collaboration are you ready for?

The immediate follow-up question from that is: what needs to be ready? Which departments need to take part? What can make those innovations possible? You don’t know yet what the startups will propose. But you might already know the role of some departments. You might have to discuss and prepare the legal department, IT infrastructure, procurement…

Furthermore, the different business areas that will participate need to engage with startups. And that means connecting to the startup ecosystem. That means talking to a lot of startups, and thinking “is this the type of innovations that we’re looking for?

During this part, the corporation can already identify key challenges. It’s possible at this point to address the corporation’s readiness to startups. With this analysis, you can fine-tune the accelerator. You can maximize the impact on making your organization better. You can maximize the impact on the corporation’s employees.
The next step comes a bit later. Once you know the startups that will join the accelerator, actually. At this point, you should make sure the key people are available.

You can’t let day-to-day get in the way

The startup will be working mainly with one or few business areas. It can happen that people in those areas are not interested. Or that they don’t have the bandwidth. Or that they don’t care too much for working with the startup. If that happens, the whole accelerator might become one big waste of time. They won’t say yes or no, they’ll just focus on their business as usual.

You need to avoid this risk instead. You can’t let day-to-day get in the way. The employees involved need to allocate time for the collaboration.

The following figure shows those three pillars, where corporations need to prepare themselves:

Corporations need to prepare themselves on three areas: goal setting, employee commitment, access to key people

Then comes the accelerator. Everybody is very excited. And hopefully very ready, if you’ve done your homework. Great! You have an awesome Demo Day, where you show off your startups. Flashing lights of the cameras, cool demos, lots of people and fancy cocktails.

Demo Day shouldn't be the end; the point where everything dies.

And then comes the second big mistake.

Then everything dies. And this is also entirely predictable if you don’t do your homework.


When the accelerator ends, innovation has just started

You need to make sure you acknowledge the follow-up. During the accelerator, the goal is to create a roadmap of how the collaboration will look like. It can be in the form of a pilot, proof of concept, or a commercial deal. And it often starts after the accelerator ends.

Those projects have a life of their own. It’s no longer part of the accelerator. It’s part of the collaboration. In those projects, you need to make sure you have clear success criteria. You need to have people responsible for them. And you need to have a clear decision-making process.

This is one of the most common reasons for collaboration failure. Nobody has thought of what happens after the pilot. It’s not clear who the decision-maker is. Or even worse: it’s clear, but nobody told them!

You need to know what is going to happen after the pilot

Your innovations should always have a clear path towards a commercial deal.

Does this mean that after the accelerator there are only the collaboration projects? Not at all! This is the moment where the corporation can reflect and grow. It’s the key moment for renewal.

At Nestholma, we prepare a report for the executives of the corporation. This makes sure they identify the areas of the business where they can improve (and how). This exercise of self-reflection, assessment, and improvement, prepares the corporation for the future. It makes them agiler.

Because if you don’t reflect on how to become better, you can’t become better.

With the knowledge you get, you can start the change. You can start change management programs to make the corporation agiler. You can start including better innovation metrics in your corporation’s quarterly targets.

One practice that we’ve started offering at Nestholma is change management workshops. The people most active in the accelerator pass on the knowledge to the rest of the employees. And together they use this knowledge to make the corporation agiler.

Renewal accelerator also changes the organization

From this point onwards, the sky’s the limit. Doing all these things right is key for renewal. Many accelerators lose track of this. And the corporation doesn’t get to examine itself. And, as Aristotle allegedly put it, the unexamined life is not worth living.

Want to hear more about our change management processes? Or about how we implement them in our accelerators? Drop me a line and let’s talk! You can also book a FREE 45-minute consulting.


Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Banking, Corporations, General, innovating.

Corporations benefit in many ways from having an accelerator. In our whitepaper, we already analyzed those benefits in depth. But one question that is sometimes tricky for people is: how much?

This is especially relevant when preparing a business case. Should you or should you not do an accelerator? What are the benefits, the costs, what do the numbers say? And sometimes you have to discuss with others in the corporation, why it’s a good idea to engage with startups. For those moments, it’s good to have some figures with you. 

That’s why we decided to build an economic model of the benefits; the Nestholma Business Case Builder. And we’re sharing with you the work in progress. For you to have something that can help you think if Nestholma accelerator could be beneficial for you. For you to convince others in your company to work with us. Or for us to discuss which parts apply to you, and which not. And as it is still a work in process, we would more than happy to hear your thoughts on it, and especially how it works for you.

Nestholma business case builder


Using the Nestholma Business Case Builder

We have modeled the benefits in the three categories presented in the whitepaper. Corporations can benefit from branding, innovation, and learning.

In the first part, you should fill in the information about your company. This will let the Business Case Builder calculate the rest. The colored cells include values that might be a bit different for your case. We have pre-filled those values with statistics. Some we have found in reports from reputed sources. Other statistics are our own, or estimates based on our previous cases. All of them have realistic values, that you can tweak to adapt to your particular case.

Of course, any such tool is meant to be played with. We’re expecting you to find out the best values for your case. To experiment. To run scenarios. So that you stretch it beyond recognition, and share the feedback with us! Let’s discuss how to renew corporations with the help of startups!


Download the Business Case Builder here:


Posted by & filed under Corporate Venture Capital, General, Investing.

The startup event of the year, Slush, was last week and that meant it was also time for our official Slush side event: Corporate Venture Capital.

Together with Helsinki Business Hub, Mawsonia and Global Corporate Venturing we got together the brightest of the CVCs from all over the world. And thanks to the great speakers and our amazing attendees we got an interesting peek into what’s in the minds of the CVC professionals all over the world.


Corporate Venture Capital is here to stay

Corporate venture capital has been on the rise. But lately, some have started questioning whether it’s just a boom that is going to die soon.

But that’s definitely not the message we got from the event.

The keynotes talked about growth and potential that is just starting to be discovered, and the roundtable discussion and our interviews made that picture even clearer. The general consensus seemed to be: CVC is definitely not just a boom. It will probably slow down a bit in the future, but not die. Some even wondered if we even have seen its peak yet.

All in all, Corporate Venture Capital is here to stay.


CVC activities are a key for corporations’ survival

Nowadays it’s becoming more and more difficult to think about an industry that is not being disrupted. Big corporations are turning to CVC to survive. Like they did in the last recession too. Corporate venture capital is a tool for survival.

“Any business nowadays needs to be focused on survival. Large corporations are prioritizing the search for new technologies, new business models, and so on. And CVC is a very effective way of doing that.”

– Tom Whitehouse, Contributing Editor, Global Corporate Venturing

Samuli Sirén, managing director of Redstone also added:

“Technological development is so fast that no corporation can create all of the R&D in-house and they have to get external impulse. And the most effective way is to invest in independent startups and support them financially and then have access to them. This then really brings in the best deals and teams and access to the best technology.”

Ad hoc is not the way to work with startups

We also gave a peak into our recent study on corporations.

18% of the companies believe innovations come from startups. While that is not so surprising, after all, startups are known for their innovativeness, it was interesting that 45% of companies believe the best innovations come from cooperation with startups.


Best innovations come from collaborating between startups and corporations


We obviously believe in the magic of cooperation between startups and corporations, but it was great to hear that the majority of the corporations believe so too. That collaboration is where the real magic happens.

But the problem is that the most common approach to collaborating with startups is ad hoc. I say problem because it shows also in the results. Or should I say lack of results.

25% of the respondents said the cooperation with startups failed because it wasn’t aligned with the company’s strategy and 14% of the respondents admitted they just don’t know how to work with startups. The know-how of working with startups, the completely different species, is missing.


The same story was also heard in the roundtable and panel discussions


Corporations struggle with early-stage investments because they don’t have the processes that are needed to succeed. Ad hoc just doesn’t work.

As Juho Isola from Taviq, the startups’ side said:

“You need to know how to use startups as a tool and not just invest randomly in them. Otherwise, you’ll just get a mess as a result”.

When a corporation partner doesn’t know how to collaborate with startups it is a problem also for the startups. Corporations are known to be able to stifle even a mid-sized company, let alone a young startup.

Having the right processes and knowhow benefit both the collaborating corporation and the startup(s).


Startups aren’t the only ones with amazing ideas. But they are the fastest at executing them

Startups have amazing ideas. But so do corporations. It just takes longer for them to make them into reality. What corporations can do in months, if not even years, startups can do even in a week. And that is a key thing for corporations to understand when they are looking into investing in startups.

As Ewan MacLeod, the Chief Digital Officer at Nordea bank said in his keynote:

“You can’t ignore a startup just because you already have the same idea as they do. Because guess what: they are going to make it live much faster than a corporation ever can.

Thus corporations need to forget the whole ‘we are already thinking about doing it’ excuse. You’re just thinking. Not doing. And in the end, doing is all that really matters.”


The future of CVC in Finland future looks bright

As the event was just before Finland’s 100 birthday, we were of course also curious to hear what the pros had to say about Finland as a corporate venture capital location. Lucky for us, it seems like the future is bright.

In proportion to its market size, Finland is dominating in CVC in the Nordics. According to the pros, our innovativeness, track records in digital and connectivity and deep technical knowledge, along with phenomena like Slush, make Finland a very attractive place for CVC activities. And they expect it to only get better.


It was our first time throwing an event specially for CVC professionals. But it definitely won’t be our last; the event exceeded our expectations ten folds! Next time we definitely need a bigger venue…

Thank you to everyone who came and see you next year!


Doing early-stage collaboration requires collaboration culture and processes. To get a free 45-minute consulting click here or contact Antti Kosunen, [email protected].


Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Startups.

While promoting our accelerator programs, we get lots of questions regarding logistics, financing, or other parameters that might influence your decision. Here are some answers to the most common questions:

Do I need to relocate to the program’s location?

The accelerator program is on-site: it requires the founders to be physically present in the corporation partner’s premises. Building a fruitful collaboration takes time (many meetings, involving many people from the corporation, etc). You need to be ready to invest those 3 months in the collaboration.

During that time, we also help you develop your business better in many ways, which in turn helps you structure and define the collaboration. This also requires decision-makers from the startup (the founders and/or anybody that you decide) to be physically present. You need to be able to make strategic decisions quickly during the program.

Of course, we understand time or travel constraints, so it’s ok if, at given times,  only one of the founders is present, as long as that person has the authority to drive the collaboration. Some people also prefer to travel back and forth each week. That’s completely up to you: we only require you to be on-site during the meetings, workshops and coaching sessions.

Do you fund travel and accommodation costs?

If you pass the first selection round, you will get invited to the selection bootcamp. We will reimburse your costs of participating in the bootcamp (travel and accommodation, to a reasonable maximum). If during the bootcamp you get selected for the accelerator, Nestholma will invest into your startup an amount enough to take care of your basic needs during the duration of the accelerator. We want to make sure that financing is not the barrier to you applying to our accelerator!

How do you assess the applications?

The selection process involves experts from our partner corporation, as well as from Nestholma. We assess the value of the collaboration between you and the corporation for both sides, as well as your team, your traction / contact to customers, your business idea (from the purely startup side), etc.

Do you invest in the startups?

Nestholma invests in the startups before the accelerator starts (equity in exchange for cash and services). The first investment is expected to cover the costs of the startup for the three months of the accelerator, following investments depend on performance indicators, and will be at the normal valuation of the company. After the accelerator, Nestholma introduces you to dozens of potential customers and investors. Our partner corporation may decide to invest as well after the accelerator, but this decision is independent of the accelerator program itself.

How much do you invest? In which conditions?

Nestholma invests into every startup that participates in our accelerators, up to a maximum of 150k€.

Typically, for ever 100k€ that startups get from Nestholma, they receive 1,4M€ in total founding including other parties.

We make a small investment of 18k€ before the accelerator, in exchange for between 4% and 7% of equity, depending on the maturity of the startup.

We fit more than one of the themes: should we pick one, or apply to both?

When you do the application (only once), select both themes. This gives us more information to analyze your case.

Are there any conditions for participating in the accelerator?

You need to be ready to go through the selection and accelerator process:

  1. a) invest 3 months in getting to a collaboration with our partner corporation, by being (mostly) presently there
  2. b) join the Nestholma portfolio to get access to partners in dozens of other countries, and
  3. c) have a great startup!

How many team members can we move on-site?

We expect you to move between 2 and 5 members on-site, but we don’t have a strict limit (within reason). We ask you how many people you plan on bringing in the application form, so please give your best estimate, and we’ll take it into account.

Do you have a question we didn’t answer here? Leave us a comment below or email me at Daniel @


Posted by & filed under Banking, Fintech, Global Fintech Accelerator.

Startups: when you apply to any of our accelerators or BankAccess programs, you’ll be exposed to all of our bank partners operating in 20+ countries in addition to TEB. 

Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB) is a reputable institution in the Turkish banking sector operating with its more than 500 branches and about 10,000 employees throughout the country. Since its establishment in 1927, with its expanded network of branches and a diversified range of products and services, TEB has pursued operating in various fields of the banking sector.

In 2005, BNP Paribas, one of the strongest banks in the world, operating in 74 countries, became a partner of TEB. In the wake of its strategic partnership, TEB carried its expertise in corporate, commercial and private banking over into the fields of retail banking, small business banking, and SME banking.

A strong innovator

TEB invests in innovation continuously and indeed is quite bold in its efforts to do so. Through its efforts over 10 years, TEB has spreaded the culture of innovation throughout the bank, made it intrinsic to all its employees and made innovation a part of its DNA finally. As it celebrates its 90th year in 2017, TEB continues to make an increasingly greater effort in order to provide multidimensional support that will nourish Turkey’s economy and also social added-value growth.

TEB is also a pioneer among Turkish banks with a recognized innovative culture and ability to bring unique solutions within its business lines. TEB has introduced Private Banking, Family Academy and Start-up Banking to Turkey and are increasingly active in Women Banking and TEB Private Angel Investing Platform. As for their collaboration efforts with fintechs they have recently designed and ran a unique corporate incubation and procurement programme called FİNTECH Future Four.

The main objective of this initiative is to find and scout out fintechs both locally and internationally and work alongside with them to produce a meaningful solution for the Bank’s real-time problems and challenges. They have already signed up with one of the participants of the programme and getting ready to work with another one. Needless to say, they know what they are doing.

We will be their international partner to enrich the content of their collaboration effort.


Apply here for Bank Access: