Our team is getting some more brilliant people along! We are excited to welcome Nick, Rudi and Raghu on board!
Quan Dinh -also known as Nick – was part of Nestholma’s intern taskforce already this spring creating mind-blowing 2M reach social media campaigns for our clients and contributing to our marketing strategies. Nick is now working as our Marketing Specialist, taking care of our social media, marketing, sales support, and data analytics!
Rudolf Vogl – Rudi – has been our mentor already for a year now, sharing always so inspiringly his senior & exec. level HR business partnering knowledge and vast experience from both big corporations (banking, retail, pharmaceuticals) and entrepreneurship! He’s an expert in cultural transformation and digital leadership and also strengthens our coaching language capacities in German-speaking countries for future projects!
Raghunath Koduvayur – Raghu – will be supporting the Nestholma team as Coach and Marketing Advisor, bringing in his talent as a global marketing leader, entrepreneur, and investor from startups and Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Tieto, and P&G. He also brings into our team knowledge from health tech and is a board member of Finland India Trade Association.
With these new folks and together with Raquel, Daniel and Antti we have a bold vision.
We want to turn challenging times into new business opportunities and give an entrepreneurial boost into the societies.
“We at Nestholma want to challenge the leaders of HR departments, governments, outplacement companies and any other organizations that contribute into social responsibility to rethink the support that we can provide for the massive talent pool of unemployed people.
Let’s support people towards new beginnings as entrepreneurs and build the future innovations together.”
We at Nestholma have always valued changes and for that exact reason, we are happy to announce our new direction. In the new online-embracing-world we live in, we are shifting our direction towards HR and will be focusing even stronger into:
Providing virtual entrepreneurship accelerators for laid-off employees to create new businesses, as we’ve done in the past with Nokia and Microsoft
For driving this new direction, Virpi Jalonen has been nominated as the new CEO, bringing over 10 years of international HR, talent acquisition and entrepreneurship experience aboard. At the same time Daniel Collado Ruiz, the previous CEO, moves into a new role focusing on building sustainable and green technology companies at Fairforce, remaining as part of the Nestholma community. In addition, Raquel Ortega Gómez will continue as the Ecosystem Orchestrator leading Nestholma’s business development and projects further, supporting Nestholma’s wide variety of startups.
Daniel has been successfully leading Nestholma and expanding the business globally, ramping up Nestholma’s Spain office in Alicante and together with the team has been creating great new business opportunities for both Nestholma, its partners as well as for Nestholma’s startups.
“It has been a pleasure to guide this ship during the past years, and I’m excited to see what this new focus will bring to our customers and startup companies.” says Daniel.
Virpi has been part of Nestholma’s office since the beginning in Alicante as Renewal Strategist and earlier this year has taken the role as COO of Nestholma. She is experienced in leading strategic HR projects, driving cultural transformation and as the founder of The Career Atelieris also expert in building new online business and coaching people towards new beginnings in their careers. From the background, she is an HR and talent acquisition expert and has worked in gaming and tech companies such as Wisar, Hatch, Rovio and Nokia.
“Nestholma’s core is renewal, innovation and collaboration – we are experts of turning challenging situations into new business opportunities and have the expertise to bring new innovations inside the organization. I’m excited to have the chance to develop Nestholma further and continue building on the great foundation that Daniel, Antti Kosunen and the whole Nestholma team have created.” says Virpi.
Does your company take social responsibility seriously, taking good care of your employees also in challenging layoff situations? We are happy to work either directly with you or partner with your existing outplacement partners providing entrepreneurship accelerator support as additional service for those employees who are interested to start new business.
We are also experts in bringing innovation inside your organization – whether it would be training programs for your people or finding the best startups to collaborate with.
What makes a good startup? How can you see which ones have potential?
As a talent scout and having lead global recruitment team in the past, I see a lot of similarities between talent acquisition and startup search. Here are some insights from behind the scenes of The I Bootcamp of Blockchain & Fintech Accelerator Alicante. In this project’s selection phase our team screened over 3000 startups based on the needs of Bankia, BBVA, Sanitas, Santander and Sparklab of Nationale Nederlanden among others.
Understanding the business needs
Both in recruitment and in startup scouting, it all starts from understanding the business needs. What solutions are the financial institutions looking for right now? What strategy is behind those needs and why is that important for them? And the question everyone is asking today – how will the world look different after Covid-19 pandemic?
The better you understand what your partners need and what kind of technical solutions could answer that, the better the results.
For the latest bootcamp, we had a wide variety of different themes in scope: the banks and insurance companies were looking for practical applications of blockchain, traceability, smart contracts, trade finance and tokenization of assets.
On the other hand, big themes were also financial wellbeing and education, accessibility and preventive health care solutions for insurance and healthcare companies.
New approaches to security and fraud prevention continue being hot topics. And my inner HR was happy to see the rising interest in innovative B2B2E benefits and solutions for the employees. Also, while the covid-19 impacts the whole world, supporting the clients in this changing situation and beyond has become an additional priority.
Finding the matches from millions
After having a clear direction, it’s a mix of creativity and hard work. Finding the best matches means – not only marketing and promotion – but also hunting the best finsurtech startups around the world for each theme. In practice this means advanced searching, testing variations of keywords, going through thousands of web pages, identifying potential, analyzing the solutions.
Industry knowledge, partners, wide networks and data crunching super search tools are a must. Not forgetting looots of coffee to keep the engines running!
Identifying the high potential
For the last bootcamp we contacted over 1500 potential startups and received over 400 applications from over 60 different countries. During 2020 we’ve so far had 5 online pitching days, with dozens of startups.
The selection is done carefully. The criteria that we use in the assessment phase is not only related to the pitching of the technical solution, scalability and past performance. It’s about the whole team.
What we look is: does this group of individuals have the mindset, solution and skills that are needed for being successful to work with us and our partners? Besides top-notch business ideas and technical expertise, a good balance of emotional and social skills is important. Learning agility, problem solution and negotiation skills are highly valued in collaboration and future partnerships.
Also, the roles and dynamics of the team members are important. What kind of expertise does the team have? Which areas do they need to strengthen?
After introducing the best startups to our partners and initiating the collaborations starts the real journey – the part that often causes most challenges in startup collaboration. Bureaucratic regulations, long decision-making processes and different cultures and ways of working might cause grey hair at the beginning for both the financial institutions and the startups.
Just like onboarding new team members, this is the critical part and there should be a good plan and resources for both sides for working together.
With an inspirational accelerator program and coaching, we can help in this making businesses grow and collaboration prosper. As long as there’s curiosity and desire to learn from each other and motivation towards common goals, we are on the right path.
What else do you value in collaboration? What solutions are important for you right now? I’d be glad to share thoughts with you – let’s connect in LinkedIn in/virpijalonen or you can find me from Telegram as Viivinen.
Hi! I’m Virpi Jalonen, Renewal Strategist and COO at Nestholma and the entrepreneurial booster that can help your cultural transformation to become reality throughout the organization. For startups, I’m a devoted coach. It’s so fascinating to see what a team of amazing talents is capable to achieve and my job is to support them on that journey.
I can also help people towards new beginnings and support even in the toughest restructuring situations by providing entrepreneurial training and startup accelerator programs for laid-off employees.
From background, I’m HR leader and entrepreneur with +10 years of experience from various HR roles in international IT and gaming companies, specializing in talent acquisition and engagement, building HR processes from scratch, ramping up organizations and creating positive working environments.
Feel free to contact me – I’d be happy to connect!
To create something new and innovative you need to also be ready to fail and fail the right way. Failing has become such an essential part of the startup world that there is even a day for it.
So, contrary to the popular belief failing isn’t necessarily bad, it might be even good and necessary. But there are also the failures that should be avoided. The common mistakes that cause the whole startup to break down. Here are 5 of the common ones.
Not all problems are worth solving. Some startups think they have the best idea ever. But they forget that is not enough: someone also has to want to buy it, or preferably: need to buy it. It is always easier to sell and get successful with products that solve a critical problem instead of ones that just ”could be fun”.
Still, many startups get so caught up in their brilliant solution that they forget that to get money from it someone needs to see it so valuable that they are willing to pay for it. Often those startups are also the ones that say everyone are their potential customers. If that’s you, stop now and think. The only thing everyone absolutely needs is air. Good luck capitalizing that.
Do you really solve a problem and is the problem critical enough for people to want to pay for your solution? Emphasis on the word ’pay’. Lots of people want free stuff, but that doesn’t put food on the table. Here’s a post that can help you out with validating.
People need to know your product exists to be able to want it
Your product or service might really be amazing, and not just on paper. You have validated and found that you really do solve a real problem, and problem people are willing to pay to get solved. But that’s not enough.
There are still startups who think that as long as their product/service is good the customers will come automatically. Sometimes that is true: companies get new customers through referrals from their old customers. But you still need to get those first customers. They won’t find your product nor service if it’s hidden in your garage… You need to talk to people. Though of course, sales and marketing are not going to save you if your product is bad. But at the same time, it’s easy to sell a good product.
So, unlike many seem to believe, people won’t run to you if they don’t know about you. Most likely they don’t even know you exist! You need to tell them and you need to explain it simply enough.
…and you need to tell them about it clearly enough
Sometimes this is the most difficult part. You know what you are doing, but your customers and investors don’t. And unless you are a coder and your customers are coders, using industry jargon is going to do more harm than good. You need to use the kind of language your customers use and what investors understand.
Don’t talk about how amazing the “UX” of your product is. Talk about the things your customers really care about, and do it in a language they understand and would use themselves. The way of speaking of for example a parent and a coder are very different…
And it’s the same thing for investors. Considering the amount of jargon startups want to use in their pitches, they must think investors are geniuses. How else would they know everything about every industry? Well, I have news for you: they don’t. When the investors don’t understand what you are saying, they automatically stop listening. And jargon usually does exactly that. And then you are wasting both of your time.
So, forget jargon and explain things as simply as possible. Pretty much like you were pitching to a child (no, you are not offending their intelligence by doing that ;)). In fact, if a child can understand you pitch, your pitch is probably going to be really good!
Wrong kind of team
As it has been said over and over again, it’s not the idea, but the execution. And successful execution is all dependent on the team. Jari talked earlier a bit about the importance of team on here, and how important it is to build your team well. But it is not just about having the necessary skills in your team, but how your team works as a whole.
It is surprising how often internal conflicts destroy the whole business. In those cases, the focus goes to drama and not building your success. Or it might be that your situation has changed and for example, the CEO you had at the beginning stages might not be the best person now. You need to hire well and know when changes in the team are needed.
Hire with care, nurture your team and the team environment and adjust when needed.
Failing to fail early enough
At the beginning of this post, I pretty much called startups the masters of failing. I should have probably said the successful startups are masters of failing. There are still startups who do everything they can to avoid failing. While not giving up is good, you need to know when to say “this isn’t going to work”. Then you can pivot and start working on something that will work.
The earlier you realize the that the less time and money you are going to spend building something that is not going to work. Thus startups should remember that failing isn’t alway the end of the world, but something they can use to become a much better business.
And there you have it: 5 common mistakes startups make and destroy all their hard work. Remember these and you won’t be one of them! ;)
Having the right kind of team is one of the key features of a successful startup. Even more important than your idea (read this if that comes as a surprise). There were search engines before Google, social networks before Facebook and so on and so forth. We all know that. What made Facebook and Google be the successful ones was that they executed the idea better. That’s why sentences like ”Execution is king”, ” Ideas are good, but only execution matters” are heard all over the startup world.
Now think about it: what is the difference between good and bad execution? I.e. who are 100% responsible for making your brilliant idea into reality? Your team. It blows my mind when startup founders just hire their childhood best friends, cousins, someone they know who happens to need a job. Noble – yes. Useful – if you’re lucky…
Hiring someone you don’t know means spending hours and hours trying to get people to apply. And then spending much more time on looking through the applications, interviewing and still you can never know what kind of people they really end up being. You just have to take a leap of faith. Or you can just hire someone you know, or at least someone you trust knows. Easy, simple, done. So, hiring someone you know is understandable and even makes sense. But that’s where many startups go wrong. Here are what to look out for.
Danger point 1 – just hiring someone you know without thinking what they can really bring to your team – skills, experience, their network…
The problem is hiring someone just because you know them. That’s what many do and then notice the person doesn’t have the skills they need. Then you face the dilemma: should you fire your childhood friend to be able to hire someone your startup really needs or just stay quiet and not destroy your relationship with him or her. Startups just don’t have the money the keep hangarounds in their team. And sooner or later you will have to sack him/her or risk failing. Thus it is better to hire sensible right away.
Each and every member of your team needs to have the skills and/or experience you need in your team. And of course, fit into your group dynamics.
Danger point 2 – hiring someone who doesn’t match your team and/or way of working.
Some startups have the opposite problem. They get so charmed about someone’s skills or experience and don’t care about how that person will fit into their team. Those are the teams that will spend their days ripping each others hair out.
Now, you don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but too many startups fail because they spend their time fighting each other instead of working. A cohesive team is not only more pleasant to work in, but cohesive teams also get better results. That is why it is equally important to make sure the new hire also fits into your team.
Also, make sure your company’s working style fits with the person you will hire. For example, if that person would prefer to have steady working hours but your startup needs lots of flexibility. Or you would want employees to work at your office, but that person would prefer to work remotely, you might have to reconsider.
Again, think before you hire and you will save yourself from many headaches.
Danger point 3 – team full of similar people
If your startup has 3 members who all are introverted coders who only want to code, no matter how amazing they are at coding, your startup won’t get far. Yes, your code will be brilliant, but that’s it. Let me repeat: THAT’S IT. Even if your business idea was to be a coding subcontractor, you would still need other kinds of people in your team. You need diversity and diversity in all areas.
Have the right skills in your team
You need a diverse group of skills, complementary skills that make executing your brilliant business idea possible. You all might be coders, but someone also needs to know how to sell, pitch, do marketing, accounting…. When you only have coders who are interested in coding, you end up with brilliant code. But like I said, that’s going to be it. That’s what they call hobbies. If you want to make money you need more than that.
I overheard a mentoring session in a hackathon of such team. The whole session was spent by the mentor asking who would use their product/idea and the team answering ”but the code is sooooo pretty, anyone. It’s just so so soooo pretty.” They were completely unaware that someone would actually need to also buy it, i.e. someone has to want the product. And that they were not even selling code, but something to make people’s lives better. The whole idea of ”thinking from your customers’ perspective” was completely alien to them. The team also spend the first minute (!) of their pitch explaining how they are uncomfortable pitching/selling, how bad they are at this, this and that…. Let’s just say it didn’t go too well.
You need the dreamers, the organizers, the doers, the specialists, the whole package that gets the work done. Think about it: if you all are dreams, all you get is dreams. If all of you are natural organizers all you end up doing is organizing each other and not doing the work.
The best results require different minds
You need people who have the diverse skills and working styles needed to make your idea into reality (and success!). But you also need diversity in experiences, in the minds you have in your teams. You need diversity of all kinds. Of skills, personalities, life experiences, cultures, genders, what have you. Studies say that by having more diverse minds working on a problem they are going to look at it more thoroughly. That is how you will take all the necessary things better into consideration and how you will create more innovative ideas.
So, while it is important to make sure your team is cohesive, you should avoid the trap of only hiring people who are similar to you. When you work with people who are different from you (from a different culture, education, sex, etc.), you will have to put more effort into working together, solving misunderstandings and so on. But also your results will be so much better. So so much better.
TL;DR: Make sure:
you have all the needed skills and personalities in your team.
your team dynamics work
you have enough of different kinds of minds working together. That’s how you will reach the best results.
An often undervalued part of building a successful startup is the team. Many entrepreneurs just hire their friends and people around them without giving much thought on what they can really bring to the table and if the combination of skills, experiences, personalities etc. is right at all. They forget that it is an important if not even the most important part of becoming a successful startup.
Like Guy Kawasaki famously said: “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” And successful implementation is all dependent on the team. It does not matter how great the idea is if they cannot pull it through. Actually, it often is better to have just a “good enough” idea and a great (or promising) team as a starting point than the opposite.
It doesn’t matter how great your idea is if your team cannot pull it through.Tweet!
Even more important than the business idea?
You are going to hear the same gospel about the importance of the team also when talking to any VC investment professional or experienced serial entrepreneur. In fact, it is often seen even as the main asset of the startup. You might even get the impression that the value of the” obvious” core i.e. the business idea or product, is downplayed. This is not the case, but the team is as much core as the value proposition and product.
Building the team and company is like institutionalizing the right thing to do to do things right. You build an engine to do and repeat what seems to resonate with the real, validated market need. Steve Blank talks about startup as “ … a temporary organization looking for a repeatable and scalable business model.” Building a great team is one important step in getting the engine working. Unfortunately for many entrepreneurs, it is not that obvious.
Why the importance of teams is so misunderstood?
One of the reasons for that is that many (if not most) of the commonly used business tools don’t cover the team properly. Take for example the Lean Canvas. From it, we learn that a well-functioning business model with all the ingredients in place calls for the right balance: value proposition and solution resonating with the real market need, channels built to paying customers and so on. However, the Lean Canvas only regards the team as cost element. But why? Don’t they see the importance? Yes, they do, but you must keep in mind what the canvas is about: helping to iterate and find the right product-market fit. So, it does not downplay the role of the team, you just need to remember to cover it separately.
So, remember to not only focus on building the business model, product and what have you, but also building a team that can execute it all. After all, it is all about execution.