My Way to the Finnish Startup Scene

First off all, I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year on behalf of the whole ZeroKeyboard team. We've been a bit lazy on our blog lately, but you should read more from us this year, as new and exciting things are bound to happen!

This time I'd like to share my personal experience of how I discovered and embraced the finnish start-up scene in Helsinki through Slush, Arctic Startup and others. Hopefully it will help people getting there too.

I left my home country and my job 2 years ago to follow my dream of living in Finland. I knew the country pretty well after ten years of visits, but its start-up life was unknown to me. I only had followed Jolla's beginning, but well, that was it.

Soon after my arrival, I got in touch with the start-up scene, it was just here, alive, active, and you just had to read and listen. I started following more people on Twitter and reading website such as Arctic Startup (even becoming their official 10 000th fan). I read more and more about it, and as I was working on a business idea discovered Slush.

I joined Slush'13 as a volunteer and attended a great speech from Mikki Kuusi telling us about the ageing industries that would need to be replaced through innovation, by start-ups. It was overwhelming, and true. Nokia was in bad shape, paper could not be considered as a growth market. And I understood his words even more during Slush: what a massive display of ideas and talent!

But the secret of Slush lies in the events and parties. I met several CEOs, had great talks with Transfluent, Lingvist, had a chat with Peter Vesterbacka, met start-up entrepreneurs. Here you grow your network, and learn valuable things. You get the views and advices of experienced people, you learn about the start-up who's who. So don't be shy, just go and talk to everyone.

You should never underestimate the power of networking. The truth is it needed a 4 degree relationship to have my first contact with Blucup (which would become Zero Keyboard). And it happened 4 months after Slush.

That's the richest part of the start-up life: being part of a team, and not a part of a sum of individuals as larger company might offer. You work as a team, you stand as a team, because you have no right to fail. But being part of a start-up is not the end, just a mere beginning. That's why I continued following, reading, checking events : AaltoES conferences, HelsinkiJS meetup, Arctic15, now HelYes. The best is still to come.

Here are my advices after 2 years if you want to be part of this wonderful scene: read the blogs and websites, follow the right people, go to the events, even the small ones, have business card, talk to strangers, volunteer, and start again. It's not just about a job, it's about your life...

Take care and see you soon!