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 Read more »
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. Read more »
It’s time for more deals and more pilots! Taviq from our second Nordea accelerator has just signed a pilot agreement with Nordea Private Banking, going live now. And that’s awesome news for Taviq and Nordea, but even better for Nordea’s customers!
Taviq’s Juho Isola on stage with Nordea’s Chief Digital Officer Ewan MacLeod.
In Private Banking and wealth management, too many clients drop off during the first meeting. That’s because the first meeting is like a cold blind date. Except the customer and the wealth advisor know even less about each other. The first meeting is spent figuring each other out; if the wealth advisor even is the right one to handle their money. Read more »
Every company is build by its people. Having a great team with complementing individual talents is crucial for success. This is why I’m thrilled that Daniel Collado-Ruiz has just been invited to join Nestholma’s partner roster.
Daniel Collado-Ruiz wears a lot of hats with ease (both figuratively and literally). He has an impressive list of accomplishments as an academic, entrepreneur, business coach and educator. On the academic side Daniel was an Associate Professor at Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain. His specialty was ecoinnovation and creativity. As an entrepreneur, he has founded Nurtup that helps people interact better through games. Both in the academia and business, Daniel has been organising workshops for people and companies to develop in five continents.
Daniel has been already working for Nestholma since last summer. During Nestholma’s Nordea Startup Accelerator his contribution as the project manager, coach and Stockholm site manager was invaluable. Daniel continue to have a key role in running programs, coaching startups and running workshops,
Daniel will be in charge of some of our most important activities. One of Nestholma’s cornerstones is the scalable program model that we’ve been using to run 19 programs around Europe. I’m very pleased to have Daniel running the program model development from now on. The other area is taking care of our international network of mentors. Having a great team is crucial for any business, but having a great network of partners is equally important. And it’s great to have Daniel developing new collaboration opportunities for our mentors and startups.
On a lighter note, Daniel (top left in the picture) also fits our partners’ hairstyle requirements perfectly :-)
Topi Järvinen @topij
Managing partner at Nestholma
Entrepreneurship is being hailed as the key to economic growth in the future. It has become an acceptable or even a somewhat glorious way of making a living. Still, our view on entrepreneurship is out-dated and one-sided. With that we’re leaving too many opportunities on the table. To attract even more people to become entrepreneurs, we should widen our perspective. We should talk more about it also as a practical way to achieve your goals rather than just as a goal in itself.
The World Bank and European Commission see entrepreneurship as the way spur economic growth. Everyone loves to hear about the superstar entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Richard Branson and how they’ve changed the world through entrepreneurship. Especially in the world of the high growth startups, serial entrepreneurship has become the way to do it: grow fast, make an exit and start again. And it is important have the serial entrepreneurs, because you certainly come out of each experience with a lot of new learnings. The accumulated learnings of the serial entrepreneurs are an importan part of the impact entrepreneurship has on the growth. But we need to look beyond these popular views.
Two faces of entrepreneurship
For some of us entrepreneurship itself is important. The ideas and business may change over time, but being an entrepreneur and working for yourself is an important part of working. As Niklas Zennstrom said
If you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. It defines you.
Niklas Zennstrom, the Skype co-founder and VC
For others entrepreneurship is just one of the tools in the toolbox. You pick it up, if it helps you to achieve your goals. Still, you are just as happy to work for someone else if that enables you to achieve what you want. Just like Matt Rogers said:
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to build things that are easy to use.
Matt Rogers, Founder and VP of Engineering at Nest (acq. by Google)
We need to embrace the a broader view of entrepreneurship
Over last year, I’ve worked with hundreds of early stage startup founders and others who have been considering entrepreneurship. For many it seems to be a really scary choice. There are already lots of un-necessary hurdles for people who consider entrepreneurship, including all kinds hurdles in legal issues and taxation. On top of that, the one-sided view makes people think that entrepreneurship is the final choice for the rest of your life. Switching back to some other form of working is too many times seen as a failure. This prevents many people from pursuing great business ideas by using entrepreneurship as a tool.
I think we have a much bigger opportunity in entrepreneurship than we’re thinking. Yes, regardless of our definition, it requires a lot. “The reality is years of hard work, throughout which you usually have no idea if you’re even moving in the right direction.” as Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz has said. Still, it can be a really useful tool – not a goal in itself. It enables many more people to achieve their dreams, make a living, make an impact in the word or whatever it may mean for each of us.
We are excited to welcome Mika Eriksson to our Nestholma family! He has a strong background in entrepreneurship, sales and all things international, and thus couldn’t be better addition to our team.
Mika has been an entrepreneur for 18 years and cofounded 4 companies. He also worked almost 8 years at Finpro (Finpro is the national trade, internationalization and investment development organization in Finland), where he helped countless startups and corporation succeed in variety of fields. Both his own companies and his work at Finpro has been very international. At Nestholma he is going put his international knowledge and vast sales experience to good use, as he will be focusing on our international growth.
”Nestholma is doing an amazing job giving big corporations a big gush of innovative air, and at the same time helping startups benefit from the vast knowledge and experience corporations have. Nestholma is also growing internationally fast, which makes joining the team even more exciting”, says Mika.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
This is a guest post by Maarit Cimolonskas from Feelingstream
Feelingstream is one of our portfolio startups (feelingstream.com). FeelingStream helps large service companies improve customer experience by analyzing customer messages and providing actionable insight on customer feelings using smart analytics. They participated in the first Nordea and Nestholma Startup Accelerator batch. Applications for the next batch is open: apply and read more.
You have a great idea, so you start it up. Every founder knows that it’s hard to launch a successful startup. We’ve all heard stories about both startups who fail and startuppers who do it for networking. The truth is that turning a great idea into a profitable business is a difficult journey! Joining an accelerator might help you here and we wanted to put down some of the lessons we believe are relevant to do it.
You want to start real business and accelerator advances your doings.
At the same time it equals a lot of work. It might happen that startups wait of being changed better after they join an accelerator. What actually happens is that they are given a better hook to catch a bigger fish!
Intense experience brings accelerated knowledge.
Be prepared that the way you think about the problem you solve may change more than once. The time you spent at the accelerator may come as being too overwhelming and intense at the same time. What it actually brings with is that you get faster answers about the business problem and clearer view about actual business impact.
Take the courage and start creating raving fans as soon as you can.
Profitable business means speaking to actual customers. To start relationships with your customers, you need to get close to their stories. And you need to listen what they have to say. It of course depends on the field you’re in, but the accelerator might as well serve as the gateway to your future customers.
Accelerator should create as much value as you create value for customers.
Instead of choosing one that brings you more monetary value, go for the one that helps you get closer to your potential customer. Accelerators connected to certain fields bring you actual people with real cases. The sooner you get to know your customer, the better.
Know what you’re missing or where you need to improve.
Even if your mind acts like sponge for knowledge, it’s good to understand that opinions are different and that in the end, it’s your startup that you want to turn into a business. Mentors are useful only if you know what you need their input for.
Develop and help others develop.
You’re in it together with the teams a lot like you and completely different at the same time. You’re lucky to have other talented minds around you. They want to help you and giving feedback to other teams might just show you some advancement too.