Posted by & filed under Customers, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Social Media, Startups.

They say social media is amazing for companies, especially startups. A must even. But in your experience, it’s just a waste of time. Usually, the reason is that you post the wrong kinds of posts, but also that you are on the completely wrong channels.

Here is a lesson that could not be simpler and even more obvious. But a lesson I want to share because, in practice, it seems to be nothing but obvious. Startups know they should be on social media, but they waste a lot of their time on wrong things. And surprise surprise they don’t get the results they want. It is about what they post, but many if not most startups get an even more basic step completely wrong. They don’t use the right social media channels, the channels that would really bring in the results. Meaning no matter how amazing posts you are putting out none of it matters if your customers don’t see them.

Only the channels where your customers are matter

What startups usually do is that after deciding they need to be in social media, they think which channels are hot and start creating accounts. The end result is they will have too many accounts and they don’t have time to do them well enough. And most likely they are wasting their precious time on channels that will bring them no results no matter how well they do on them.

The only channels that matter are the channels that bring you results. And usually, that means the channels your customers use. Like everything your startup does, also marketing and social media should all start from your customers. Let’s say you have a fashion brand and your customers are females in their 20s. Then Instagram is probably your best bet, probably also Facebook. Linkedin? Not so much. But if your customers are professional males in their 50s or 60s Linkedin (or nowadays also Facebook) is just the thing. And then Instagram, probably a complete waste of time.

So, creating great content is the number 1 thing that will make or break it whether you will get something out of your social media efforts. But if you are doing it all on wrong channels your effort is 100% waste of time.

How to find the right channels for your startups

Like I said earlier: be where your customers (and other important stakeholders) are. The best-case scenario would be that you know what those are for a fact. If you don’t, you need to start making educated guesses and change accordingly when you get more information. Also, just ask. You are talking to your customers and potential customers anyway, so why not ask about where they are active.

If you have no idea, you can start from thinking about your customers’ demographics. The Internet is full of information about who uses what social media channels. Then you can start using facts like your customers’ gender, age, income level, interests etc. help you make an educated guess. Here is one website to help you out.

 

Social media demographics age

 

These are just some of the most popular channels. …which is why it makes no sense for startups to try to be on all possible channels.

Demographic factors usually help you a lot, but don’t be blinded by them. Let’s say your target group is photographers, male and 35+ years old. Then just by looking at demographic factors alone, you wouldn’t go for Instagram. But that would be a grave mistake! What is Instagram? A photo sharing app. It’s filled with people interested in photography and pro photographers.

Also, remember not to focus only on the buyer, the one who actually makes the decision of buying. Think about the people who have an influence on that buying decision. A clear example is toys. An adult is the one who pays for the toys, but it’s kids who say ”I want that!!! Buy it!”. Then you should be active where the kids are, and of course, not completely neglect the parents either. Or if you are selling something to the government or bigger organizations. The decision makers are important, but so are the assistants who actually scour through the options and present them to the decision maker.

Be realistic about your resources and what even is possible

Think of your resources and what makes sense. Even if your customers use ’all’ social media channels, you probably shouldn’t be in all of them. Unless your startup is strongly tied to social media, you just won’t have time. That’s coming both from personal experience and seeing what happens with startups. It’s better to focus on the most useful channel(s) and do them well than to do poorly on many channels. Doing social media well does require time and effort, so don’t spread yourself too thin.

Another thing to consider is what even is possible for you. For example, let’s say your customers use a lot of Instagram and quite a lot of Twitter. Instagram would then be an obvious choice. But for some companies, it might be harder to create good content on that platform. If you have a fashion brand, it is easy to take good photos that create value, something that makes people want to follow you. If you do IT consulting, not so. Then it is a safer bet to focus on the number 2, Twitter. Though of course, if you can actually figure out how to do Instagram super well, you will reach your customers where they are AND where your competition isn’t.

In short:

  1. Only be on the channels where your customers are
  2. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Start only with the most important channel(s). You can always take over more later.
  3. Create value. Just pushing your products and services will not work.

And that’s it for today! Do you have any learning about choosing the right channels? What worked, what didnät?

 

You might also be interested in: How to talk to your customers and build better products?

 

Posted by & filed under Customer development, Entrepreneurship, innovating, Product development, Startups.

How to be a successful entrepreneur? How to create the next Airbnb/Uber/Dropbox/startup unicorn? Hands up, who hasn’t googled something like that even once? Or at least clicked once on those millions and millions of articles about creating the ‘next big thing’.

But if that’s what you are asking you won’t succeed. Might sound harsh but it’s true. Hey, I do understand; who wouldn’t want to be the founder of the next SpaceX. But the thing is that if you just want to have a successful startup for the sake of having a successful startup, you are focusing one the wrong things. You are focusing on the fame, money or whatever fancy thing you are imagining, not on what can get you there. And that is having a startup that is actually worth it.

All successful startups give people something they are dying to get. They are solving a problem, a crucial need people have. The more people your startup can help, the more desperate they are to get that problem solved, and the better you solve it the bigger your success will be.

So, how do you create a successful startup then?

Didn’t I just tell you to stop thinking about it!?!? …juuust kidding. In all seriousness:

 

Have an idea (well, duh)

Often what happens is that the founder(s) sees a need. That something could be done better and figure out a solution for it. They start thinking ”why is it like this. Why can’t it be like that.” Boom: an idea is born! (in a very very simplified form).

 

Validate that idea

Ideas are an essential part of founding a startup. But we all have ideas and only a few of us are successful entrepreneurs because of them. That’s because not all brilliant ideas really are brilliant. You need to validate your idea. Is it something that would make only your life better? Is it crucial enough and for enough people? Or just ’nice to have’?

Is the need big & crucial enough?

I.e. are people actually willing to pay for you solution and are they enough of them. If they want your solution but not to pay for it (=the need isn’t crucial enough for them), you won’t make any money and your business will die. Or if only a few want your solution (=the need isn’t big enough), you won’t make enough money and again: your business will die.

 

”But everyone needs my solution…”

 

Stop you fool!

 

If that’s what you think, stop! Stop, sit down and think again. You might still be able to save your startup.

Unless you have found a way to capitalize air, there is nothing everyone needs. ”Everyone” is the easy answer many go for, and the answer that will ruin their all chances of success. When you think that everyone will be your customers, you try to please everyone. And that doesn’t work. You will end up doing compromise after compromise and then your solution fits no-one. Or you just don’t even try and create a solution that only solves your problem and nobody else’s.

Bad validation is one of the most common reasons startups fail. They get so blinded by their ’brilliant solution that everyone in this world will buy’ that they forget to check the facts. Don’t be like them. Validate, and do it properly. Here’s an excellent post from Startupgrind to help you with that.

The best case is when your product is not just a ’nice to have’, but a must to have.

 

Execute it awesomely

”Ideas don’t matter, only execution does.” – pretty much every successful entrepreneur.

No matter how brilliant your idea is, the idea that is executed the best will win. After all brilliant idea is just an idea, still a long way from becoming reality. And rarely there are any truly unique ideas (there have been search engines before Google, social networks before Facebook and so on). We now ’google’ things because Google had the best execution of the idea, same with Facebook and many many other businesses.

No-one will see the brilliance of your idea if the reality of it just screams bad execution.

And a key thing to remember is that execution is 100% up to your team. It’s about their skills, experience, connections, everything. Many entrepreneurs just hire their relatives, friends, old acquaintances who need a job. That’s very noble of them but only works if they have the qualities needed to make that brilliant idea into reality. And if you ever dream of getting investments, you better have the kind of team that gets them. After all, investors usually look at the team even more than the idea itself. More about that here.

Learn from the unicorns – real-life examples

Let’s look at Airbnb. The economy was (and unfortunately is) tough, and many were looking for extra income. They also had empty space in their homes. Unused rooms, or whole apartments due to traveling. At the same time, people wanted to travel but not spend that much money on their accommodation. There was a demand and then there was a solution: Airbnb.

Or Uber. Again tough times. People need an extra income and they have an idle car. At the same time, others need convenient transportation, like taxis but without the price tag. Again: big need many really want to get solved.

In short: they had a great idea, an idea crucial for many and they knew how to execute it well. And now Airbnb is worth 31 billion dollars. Uber 62,5 billion dollars (as of March & April of 2017).

 

Related post: Startup mistakes to avoid

 

Posted by & filed under Banking, Customer development, Customers, Fintech, innovating, Startups.

The digital revolution has happened. And now it’s banking’s turn. Fintech are here and banks can lose up to 60% of their retail profits in the next decade. But will they? And why would they? What is going to happen in banking and fintech?

About a week ago I attended MoneyFintech-seminar and got to listen to the brightest minds of fintech and banking. Here are the four big things that are hot now and in the future of fintech and banking.

New regulations

When talking about banking and fintech, regulations are a topic you just cannot ignore. The hot potatoes of the industry: PSD2, open banking, and many others are wreaking havoc in banking.

PSD2, open banking – new regulations level they playing field for fintechs

One key goal of the new regulations is to level the playing field between fintechs and banks. It means more opportunities for more new fintechs. And that means new opportunities, new companies, new jobs and so on. The industry has been booming and the new regulations don’t seem to make it any slower, the opposite.

 

Bad news for banks: half of consumers are open to 3rd party providers

Source: Kevin Poe, CGI

Consumers don’t feel connected to their banks and half of consumers are already ready to try 3rd party service providers. While consumers still prefer their current bank to provide new services it is greatly declining. All this is great news for fintechs but not so good for banks. Banks can no longer just sit on their asses and wait to see what happens.

 

It’s up to banks to decide the role of fintechs in the ecosystem

An interesting point in the speeches was that in the end, it is up to the old masters of the industry, banks, to decide what kind of role fintechs will take. Will banks refuse to change with the industry and let fintechs take over? Will they re-invent themselves and fight back? Or maybe the most beneficial for all: will they learn to collaborate with the other players in the ecosystem?

Not everyone can nor should do everything. Instead of wasting time on trying to win everyone on every battleground, banks should collaborate with the ones that would give complementary value to your offering.

“Fintech will bring lots of opportunities for everyone. But it is true only IF collaboration happens.” -Annukka Paloheimo

Like Lars Markull said: “PSD2 is not THE solution for banks, but something that pushes them to the right directions.” It forces them to act instead of just watching passively in their ivory towers till they have become completely obsolete.

 

Customer focus

The regulations are changing and fintechs have the opportunity of a lifetime. But the biggest winners will be the customers. They are the ones who will have all new kinds of financial products, their old services will be much simpler, and for every product and service they have been forced to get from one provider, now they will have an excess of options. And as we know, options is never bad for the customers. But for banks and fintechs it means fiery competition.

“Thanks to fintechs and technology houses customers are aware of their options, that there even are options. That has shifted the power from the banks to the customers. Now customers are in the driver’s seat.” – Kirsi Larkiala

The winners will be the ones who serve the customers the best. The ones who don’t just focus on the customer but what the customer is focusing on. If you can bring something great to the things matter most to the customers, that’s the recipe for success. Or like Jarle Holm put it: “If it’s going to increase your customer’s equity, it’s going to grow your equity.” And the key to that is to stop thinking about customers as customers and start thinking about them as humans.

 

Illogical, obsessed with social relationships, i.e. your customers 

The biggest winners will be the companies that understand what customers essentially are – humans. Beings who think they are rational, but in reality are far from it. Beings to whom social relationships are more important than almost anything else. That’s why customers’ losing the feeling of personal connection to their banks is such a big deal. And that’s why the companies who also serve the social relationship needs of their customers will succeed. Companies need to understand how their customers make their decisions (not as rationally as you’d think), and how to build strong relationships with their customers. And to think about their future customers already today. For example by 2025 millennials will make 75% of the workforce. The ones who will start building relationships with them then are way too late.

Collaboration

The future is not ‘ready’. It needs to be innovated together with the whole ecosystem.” – Kirsi Larkiala

In fintech, one as often mentioned topic as the new regulations is collaboration. In fact, 82% of financial institutions expect to work with startups in 3-5 years.

 

82% of financial institutions expect to to work with startups in the next three to five years.

Source: PwC

1 in 2 banks expects to partner with fintechs later than in two years, which is pretty slow (even too slow?). They see the benefits, but at the same time they have a huge responsibility. Banks spend on regulation and compliance 321Bn (inc fines). Having customers’ trust is more important than pretty much any other industry. And if something happens because of the 3rd party, the bank’s partner, that trust is lost. The customers see that the bank is responsible of their partners. But regardless banks know they can’t not collaborate with startups. Why? They need the innovations & to learn.

“Innovative companies seeking aggressive growth are the future of Finland and Europe.” – Eeva Grannenfelt

Working with startups to get innovations

There are many reasons corporations aren’t the kind of innovation powerhouses startups are. One of those is the fear of failure or losing their reputation by putting out something that is not ’perfect’. That is why the startup-like use of MVPs might sound absolutely horrifying. And they do have a point. Like Pekka Puustinen from insurer Ilmarinen said, corporations have a whole different kind of reputation to keep than startups. Putting out ‘almost ready’ products is not as easy for big corporations like it is for startups. ”Porsche can’t put out a car that almost works”, he said.

As banks have their constraints they go for startups for innovations. And it makes sense. Startups are innovation powerhouses without the constraints they have. They don’t have such a big reputation to upkeep, and they are the masters of using failing as an innovation tool. Eeva Grannenfelt even said large companies have outsourced the R&D partly to growth companies. Startups definitely can be a tool for banks to meet the new expectations of their customers and do so without risking their reputation.

 

Working with startups to learn

But none of the above means the banks can just sit around. While startups can be an amazing way to find the much-needed innovations, they themselves need to change for the future. While Porche can’t necessarily put out ‘almost ready’ cars, there are multiple ways more ‘startup like’ approach would work wonders for corporations. That’s why they should learn from startups. Learn to be faster, agiler, more innovative. And even fail. Like Topi Järvinen said: “Failing isn’t necessarily bad. You can learn a lot from it and thus do better the next time.” Failing (the right way) is an essential part of innovating and by no means automatically means PR disasters.

Based on the talks banks gave that’s exactly what they are looking for. Most of them talked about how they need to reinvent themselves and learn from the startups. That’s why banks should use accelerators and startups just for innovations, but as something to change their entire organization. The ideal situation would be getting innovations from outside the house (startups) but also being able to innovate in-house. And at the same time be more agile, fast, more startup-like and less stiff like corporations usually are.

 

Accelerators shouldn’t be just tools to get innovations, but tools to change the whole organization

Source: Topi Järvinen, Nestholma

 

China: the promised land of fintech

An old Chinese professor of mine joked that in China copyright actually means the right to copy. China definitely has been an excellent copier of all innovations big and small. But now China has gotten far from that: they have changed from copycats to copy tigers. In China, fintech is booming.

China is a great breeding ground for fintech. The country is going through rapid urbanization, they have regulations that support the growth of inland fintech innovations, a massive and underserved SME market, rapidly growing of e-commerce and also explosive growth in online and mobile penetration (read more here). Technology is changing so rapidly that they are skipping many of the unnecessary steps like landlines, dial-up internet and so on, and going straight to mobile payments innovations like that. And the people are more than willing to do so. For example, 40% of Chinese consumers have adopted mobile payments, which is massive. China truly is the perfect breeding ground for fintech innovations.

“Fintech in China is delivering the promise of fintech – making changes of unimaginable size” – Ronit Ghose

China is coming and the West better listen

China’s policy has been to forbid Western services like Google, Facebook, Youtube, and many more to have their own versions instead. There are multiple reasons why, one of them being giving the business opportunities to Chinese companies. The Chinese not only copied the service but also evolved them further (e.g. mobile wallet in their social media services like WeChat). Before you could just think ”oh well, the Chinese have their own versions, so?” and move on with your day (unless, of course, the Chinese market was important to your business). But now that is not possible anymore.

The Chinese consumers are the fastest growing segment in the world. Now there are 300 million Chinese consumers and by 2022 there will be 600 million. And it’s not just the massive amount of them, but also their great purchasing power. McKinsey estimates that by 2022 the upper middle class will account for even 54% of urban households.

 

The upper middle class will account for even 54% of urban Chinese households

Source: McKinsey & company

In short, there is an ever growing amount of wealthy Chinese who want to spend. And they don’t just want to spend it all at home. They want to travel and spend it on foreign (premium) goods.

 

Chinese outbound tourism growing strongly

Source: Johan Andrén, Handelsbanken

It may sound like the Chinese are taking over the world (and maybe they are), but in our current interconnected world, all that spending is going to mean more jobs all over the world. And that’s great (if you are not an avid tinfoil wearer ;))! But that also means the so-called Chinese versions of everything are now also relevant here. Or they should be. Like Ronit Ghose said: “When the mass of wealthy Chinese tourists come, Western companies have to accept Chinese payment methods or they get nothing.” On the streets of my home city Helsinki, there are more and more signs in Chinese. Talking about the Chinese payment methods the shops now accept, wishing happy Chinese new year and so on. The Chinese are coming and you should be ready.

…or should I say Asia is coming instead? China definitely is ahead, but other countries like India are catching up fast. You should keep your eyes peeled.

 

Antti Kosunen ended his portion with the following quote, and it seems like the perfect quote to end this post: “If the rate of change outside your organization exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is near.” – Jack Welch

 

Posted by & filed under Corporations, innovating, Startups.

Go f.... disrupt yourself!

Many startups say they are disrupting something. And they might, we live in one of the most uncertain times in history. But how can corporations know what to expect? How can they know what the big changes in the industry will be?

The bad news: you’re not as good as you think figuring it out on your own.

People love talking about “disruption”. Fintech startups with the banking industry. Autonomous and electric with the automotive industry. Peer-to-peer with real estate. TechCrunch has even named its conferences “Disrupt”. Welcome buzzword, let’s all go disrupt something! And is disruption even a good thing for startups? According to Peter Thiel, not at all. It doesn’t say much about your business if the biggest thing about it is what it displaces. Tweet this

Disruption is what the big players call an innovation that they didn’t see coming. Tweet this

A hammer is not a disruption to a video casette. A streaming service is.

And why would you not see it coming? It turns out it’s more difficult than most people expect. I’ll give you one example. A technology that is getting a lot of buzz lately is Artificial Intelligence. We have a few startups in that field in our portfolio. I’m sure you’ve also heard claims about how it’s going to displace a lot of jobs.

What was your answer to that?

Let me guess… was it close to “poor guys, I’m so lucky it won’t displace my job though”?

I’ve been talking with a lot of people about this topic, and let me break out a sad truth to you: everybody thinks that. Tweet this. Doctors, consultants, teachers, drivers! “Oh, it’s going to get a lot of people out of their jobs. But for sure not in my area. We do different stuff. There’s still a lot of things they don’t understand about what we do.”

And there’re two reasons (at least) for that.

The first and most obvious is that the closer we are to something, the more assumptions we have about it. Tweet this. You have assumptions about how your job “should be”, based on how it is. You have the assumption that everything that you currently do is necessary.

The second one is that what disrupts a market is not an improved version of what you currently have. Tweet this. What will displace your industry is no necessarily a substitute of your current offering. It will be something that makes your current offering irrelevant. But by definition, it will be very different.

 

Sometimes new innovations don't seem like they could replace the old thing because they seem so different.

 

Take the case of the ice factories in the 1920’s. It was one of the biggest industries at the time. On 1927 came the refrigerator. Many people in that industry though “oh, sure, but that’s not the same thing”. Still, most ice factories closed down. The disruption didn’t come from better ice. It came from something else, that made selling ice almost irrelevant. And they didn’t know how to renew themselves.

Let’s bring the example to the present time:

  • Think about the automotive industry. Will the biggest disruption be better or more efficient cars? Probably not. We will move towards something that will make cars less relevant. It might be advances in shared economy, better-shared transportation or communications. It might be all the above.
  • Think about fintech and banks. Will the biggest disruption be a startup that is a better version of your bank? Probably not. It might be a swarm of little startups. An open architecture. A different way to deal with information. It might be all the above.

The good news: working with startups will help you.

A couple of weeks ago the Nestholma coaches took part in Tony Robbin’s seminar Unleash the Power Within. We heard much about human nature and about beliefs. In particular, we heard about how self-limiting some of them can be. To get rid of those beliefs, you need to break existing patterns and create new ones.

If you want to understand what’s coming, you need to do more than knowing the context. You need to be ready for change and renewal. Need to be agile. You need to know how to work with the change. You need to know how to work with startups.

You even need to be part of the change. You need to disrupt your own business. If you don’t, somebody else will. You need to be working on the things that will make you obsolete before somebody else does. Tweet this.

This can be scary. But instead of fearing those changes, you need to embrace them and turn them into actions. The world is going to change anyways. If you renew yourself, you’ll stay on top, and the change will be good for your business. Tweet this. If you use startups only as an innovation band aid, you might see it coming… or not.

 

Working with startups will help the people in your organization in many ways:

  • It will make them think bigger, and raise their standards towards innovation. If working with startups becomes part of their DNA, they will be more likely to think innovatively, expect shifts in the market… and dare be part of those shifts!
  • It will make them think in a sharper way. Tony Robbins says that complexity is the enemy of execution, and any lean startup will agree. In corporations, things can become complex very fast. Even when things are not complex, they are sometimes made complex. Startups are good at cutting through the clutter. They can’t afford to make things too complicated. They have to be sharp and lean.
  • It will make them think like intrapreneur change agents. Change requires champions. Entrepreneurial thinking is a great tool to plan for uncertainty. It’s a great tool to even understand that uncertainty. It’s a tool for making things happen.

In short: be ready to renew your organization by working with startups… or somebody else will! Tweet this

Dr. Daniel Collado-Ruiz, @ErCollao

Do you like the content? Do you disagree? Are you interested in hearing more about other related stuff? Drop us a line in the comments or on Twitter, and let’s chat!

 

Start renewing your business today

Let’s talk how Nestholma can help to renew your entire company and find new businesses with startups and beyond.

I want to hear more

 

You might also be interested in: Why are big corporations so bad at innovating?

 

Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Corporations, innovating, Startups.

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.

Active waiting

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.

Fast

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.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Accelerator, Corporations, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Mentoring, Startups.

Most collaboration between startups and corporations shows very little results. The reason is that they are just trying to improve bits and pieces of, for example, the offering. That’s not enough. The winners will be the ones that can renew their attitude, learn to adapt and embrace the change. Startup collaboration is the best tool for that, but it needs to be done right.

Startup collaboration is not an innovation band-aid

Startups are not innovation band-aidMany corporations still try to filter out the perfect startup candidates before starting to work with them. They usually end up with companies that have a product that can be easily integrated with the current offering. Good for them if they can provide something useful for their customers, but that approach rarely ends up in changing anything. It usually just turns into an incremental improvement.

It doesn’t help you if you do the same thing a bit better than before. Not when in most industries you don’t know how your business will look like in just a few years. Corporations need to break the familiar ways of doing things, break the patterns to get ready for the unknown. Companies need to build skills to be ready for the future. The old skills may not become obsolete, but everyone needs to find new ways of using the old skills in new environments. We need to be experts at finding new uses for the things we’re good at. We also need to become experts in the new things that are needed to solve our customers problems.

While startups can learn a lot from corporations, also the startups can teach the corporations many things. So, why do many corporations go only for the incremental improvements and one-by-one collaboration with startups? Because this way fits their existing way of working. They have used subcontractors and other types of partner forever and startups are no different. Corporations are really good at buying products and services. They have developed efficient procurement models and processes that they want to use also with startups. But that is not enough. In fact, I think that this way of working totally misses the point and the big opportunity.

Turning from individual innovation partnerships to powering the renewal at corporations

Nestholma started with the idea of helping startups and corporations to build new innovations and make deals together. In our accelerator model, we make the startups and corporation work together with clear business goals in mind. That has worked really well in the 20 accelerators we’ve done. Still, over the past two years, we’ve realized that it’s much more than making a few deals happen or arranging a great Demo Day pitching events.

Couple of interesting things have happened: HRD and entreprenership

To make the impact of the accelerators as big as possible, we’ve ended up coaching not just the startups and also the corporation’s employees. Regardless if you talk in the context of change management or broader transformation, our work has been more and more about helping the employees to learn from the startups. This has helped them to become better at facing whatever challenge may lie ahead of them.

Many times the management is a bit worried that the employees may not have enough time to work with the startups. Our experience is that the employees love to work with the startups and find the time if there’s good support for them. Also, we’ve found that it’s not just the innovation people, but everyone in the organization that wants to join from customer care to sales and tech. After working with startups many corporate employees have told us that the work with startups has given them new boost on working with the other things, as well.

The other interesting thing has been the work we’ve done for the ex-employees of Microsoft and Nokia. These companies have laid-off thousands of employees in Finland over the past couple of years. As a Finnish company we wanted to see if we could use our business coaching and accelerator model to help them to find their new path in life as entrepreneurs. In great co-operation with both Microsoft and Nokia, we’ve coached hundreds of ex-employees from these companies. Some have become entrepreneurs, some have gone to work in small companies and some are just using the entrepreneurial mindset to pursue whatever else they want in life (read more in Finnish). Not everyone has ended up being a growth company entrepreneur, but we have found it important give back a little by using our expertise to help them.

Nestholma's startup accelerator and entrepreneurship coaching model.

Business leadership and HR can drive the change with startups

Still, what started out as an interesting experiment and an effort to share our knowledge, turned out to be one of the biggest learnings for Nestholma. This experience in coaching the entrepreneurs has helped us to develop a deep understanding on how to help also the employees still working inside a corporation to change. In fact, we find ourselves increasingly in the same tables with the business leadership and HR. They want concrete business results fast, but they also want to make sure it’s not just what I sometimes call an innovation band-aid. They want to see sustainable impact in the entire organization and business as well as sustainable renewal of the company.

Business leadership and HR want to make sure the entire company is able to quickly

  • adapt to new market conditions
  • find out what are the problems worth solving
  • learn new skills while they are working
  • move effortlessly between different types of internal and external operational models (startups, internal ventures, line organization etc.)
  • reinvigorate the employees to pursue new paths in their personal professional growth
  • turn high level strategic goals into real business initiatives

And we’re very happy to be there. With our two-part accelerator and entrepreneurship coaching model, we can provide the tools to tackle these needs and more. The great thing is that this is also the best way to help the startups learn and succeed.

Topi Järvinen @topij

Start renewing your business today!

Let’s talk how Nestholma can help to renew your entire company and find new businesses with startups and beyond.

I want to hear more