Nordic Law is a proud partner of Startup Weekend Helsinki edition VII. We at Nordic Law are thrilled; that said, the opportunity has been offered to us as we are very active within the vibrant Finnish startup culture. Yes, you noticed correctly – we are talking about the vibrant Finnish startup culture – as a startup-orientated law firm we have during the last few years seen a rapid change in the Finnish startup scene, whereby we are of the view that a very exciting startup culture has emerged also in Finland – a country that has been labelled as the sick man of Europe due to the challenges its public economy is currently facing. We would, however, dare to say that Finland is more like the startup center of Northern Europe and the local startup scene is ever-blooming.
We at Nordic Law are also one of the few law firms in Finland with a special focus on early- and growth-stage startups with services ranging from assisting in the founding stage all the way to financing rounds, the expansion of the startup and the exit of the founding partners.
We have experienced a conscious shift during the last few years from the traditional SME clients to startup clients of all size, whereby our main goal is to provide extraordinary surplus value for startups by using innovative solutions combined with specialized knowledge and fixed priced service packages. Our aim is to assist startups during their whole life span, whereby we are always primarily seeking for long-term business relationships, in which the lawyer-client relationship is built slow and steady. We like to compare the business relationships with our startup clients to a marathon, not a 100 meter sprint.
Since the year 2014 Nordic Law has consciously started to focus more on startups as we see an enormous potential regarding the Finnish startup scene. However, we have unfortunately noticed that the legal services, which currently are offered to startups, do not go hand-in-hand with the emerging Finnish startup scene and digitalization, whereby there has not been a single startup-orientated law firm prior to Nordic Law. Besides us, the bigger law firms are naturally very interested in the Finnish startup scene, whereby said firms are offering legal services especially to growth-stage startups, but at what price? Bigger law firms offer legal services mainly based on the `oh-so´ traditional hourly fee without taking due consideration to the finite financial resources of startups, especially regarding early-stage startups.
We at Nordic Law on the other hand have taken the Finnish legal bull by its horns, whereby we have started to tackle the traditional legal invoicing structure which currently is offered to startups by the mainstream bigger law firms. Thus we have thrown aside the old-world invoicing structure where clients are invoiced per the hour, whereby instead we have taken a more agile and risk sharing approach to the invoicing structure regarding legal services offered to startups. Our decision is based on the fact that all startups, no matter of their size, should be entitled to all-encompassing legal services for a fixed and predictable price. Law firms should not select their startup clientele based on the development stage of the startup, but unfortunately many startups out there are either left without much needed legal service or they are offered legal services for a very hefty price. Hence there is an immense need for a disruption regarding the Finnish market for legal services and we at Nordic Law are very glad to act as a disruptor.
Taking into consideration all the above mentioned, it was a no-brainer for us to partner up with Startup Week Helsinki, where we get to take part in, and most important – be a part of, the dynamic Finnish startup ecosystem. For us the partnership with Startup Week Helsinki is not about getting new clients – the major factor for us is to connect and discuss with all the various Finnish startup players (if you will). If we end up getting new startup clients, it’s a complimentary, not a compulsory, addition.
Lastly, as a partner of Startup Weekend Helsinki, fellow Nordic Lawers may be found during the up-coming Startup Week Helsinki both on Saturday and Sunday. Nordic Law will also provide prizes for the three winning teams in terms of amount of hours of free legal counselling. The prizes are divided in 2.000 euro for the 1st team, 1.500 euro for the 2nd team and 1.000 euro for the 3rd team.
Without further ado, we look forward to meeting inspiring and fresh startups during the up-coming weekend. Please don’t hesitate to come and talk to our people at the event, remember we are there for you!
Jon Hautamäki, Nordic Law
The author of this blog post is a partner at Nordic Law and an avid disruptor of the Finnish legal market.
Part of the global community
Startup Weekend Helsinki was initiated by great enthusiasts from Aalto University in 2013. Since then more than 10 organisers have been involved in running the events in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. To date, 6 Startup Weekends have been hosted in the Greater Helsinki area biannually.
At Startup Weekend Helsinki we are part of the global community of over 150 countries and local chapters of volunteers. Currently we are the only team producing Startup Weekend in Finland but we hope there will be more local communities here in the future! If you have attended a Startup Weekend, you are eligible to join an organising team or start your own chapter 😉
What’s so special?
Startup Weekend is a volunteer movement that is run by an organisation headquartered in the US. It takes super excitement when attending a Startup Weekend + willingness to support your local entrepreneurial community to become an organiser. We have an awesome network of managers, facilitators and peer organisers to support our work.
We enjoy spending our free time on organising Startup Weekend immensely. It is fun, it is exciting, we meet lots of wonderful people. You can’t believe how rewarding it is to see people brainstorming and fighting for their ideas, believing in those and putting zealous effort, coming together in teams and working hard in just 54 hours. There hasn’t been a single Startup Weekend where we wouldn’t be overwhelmed with energy levels in the room!
Every time from scratch?
Every other Startup Weekend is different, of course and each time we start again with defining the topic, potential sponsors and supporters and the time frame. However, we never have to create any content from scratch since Startup Weekend gives its organisers an amazing database of resources which is used globally. That one makes our life much easier.
Organisers also communicate via global organisers Facebook group and Slack, any questions are welcome and there is always support from fellow cities.
General or topical?
A Startup Weekend can be general – participants can pitch any ideas – or topical, where the theme is set in advance. We’ve had both general and topical Startup Weekends encouraging participants to pitch ideas in the areas of sustainability, bioeconomy and health, for instance. It is completely up to us whether to have a topic or not. We base such decisions on global and national trends, cize of the city and time of the year.
It’s more than you think
For an attendee Startup Weekend is 54 hours of ultimate hard work and fun, for organisers – much more hours, a lot of stress but also fun 🙂 Since we spend our time outside of work, it takes us around 4-5 months to produce the 3 day event. A Startup Weekend in Helsinki is usually a collective effort of around 50 people – organising team, volunteers, coaches, judges, sponsors, supporters, speakers and community activists who come together to bring the best experience to the attendees.
Community around Startup Weekend is a core thing for any event – without great support we get from Helsinki’s startup and corporate scene and without the help of our volunteers we wouldn’t be able to host any Startup Weekends here so we take this opportunity to say thank you again and again to all people who have been supporting Startup Weekend Helsinki in many ways!
If you’ve attended Startup Weekend before we welcome you to join as organiser or volunteer for our future events! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s move! 🙂
Written by Tanja Lindner from Zervant
If you are a person who likes to follow rules and strict procedures, don’t even bother looking for a job in a startup. There’s nothing here for you my friend. Unless, of course, you want to see change and you want to thrive; both professionally and personally.
I’ve never intended to work for a startup.
When I moved from Austria to Finland 3 years ago, I didn’t know what I was going to do or where I wanted to work, but joining a startup was definitely low on my priority list.
As a ‘soon-to-graduate’, with work experience in the traditional ‘corporate world’, I didn’t know much about the startup-scene in the first place. But looking back, I have to say that I couldn’t be happier I’ve filled that gap in my knowledge.
I joined Zervant – a startup – 3 years ago. Zervant offers online invoicing and accounting software for sole traders and startups. We were purely running on investors’ money and had just started to see our first growth outside of the Finnish market.
We’re a tech-oriented, young and driven company that went within 2 years from 5 to 20 employees. And now we are even able to sponsor events like the Startup Weekend.
I tell you, it has been an exciting and fun ride so far.
What does it take to be part of a successful startup?
There is no secret formula to answer that. On second thoughts, there might be one actually.But before we jump to early conclusions, let’s have a look at these 5 ultimate signs you are ready to take that leap of faith and join a startup:
1.You have ideas. And you are not afraid to make them happen.
You want to create. You want to change. You want to see your ideas develop.Have you ever experienced that tingling sensation when an idea is coming up and you feel like your very being is filled with it in an instant? I know that feeling. And I love it.
When working in a startup, it’s much easier to express your ideas and to be taken seriously – after all, there are not many other people who can contribute to the success of the company. Another plus is the low hierarchy that enables you to start working on your ideas right away, before waiting to get approval from several layers of middle management.
However, it’s not all like a walk in the park. In the process of developing your dreams, you have to be ready to take on different tasks to the ones you were ‘hired’ to do. Flexibility is the key to success in any startup.
At the beginning of your startup-journey, there will be no marketing department, or customer service center – one day you’re the customer support person, the other day you’re the professional marketer pitching a deal.
The plus side is though, that while making your ideas happen, you can build your own processes and procedures too.This has been the most important aspect for me in my early professional life: Freedom to choose when and how I want to get things done.
2. You know what ignites your passion. And you simply do it.
I’m doing the marketing for invoicing and accounting software. I’m also blogging about entrepreneurship and related topics on our company’s blog. I get it, you might now be thinking: Accounting and invoicing, how boring is that? I’m not gonna lie. There are times when it gets boring. (Another article about how to do your taxes…seriously?)
However, I’m passionate about writing and marketing, so I find a way to make this topic more interesting to me. “Any topic, can be transformed into something exciting, if you have the freedom to define it yourself.” If I can transform a boring topic into something that interests me, so can you. Or even better, do it in such a way that you start loving it.
Your passion for the bigger thing, in my case it’s marketing, must be bigger than your discontent for the small steps that take you there.
Be a self-starter, be passionate and be willing to learn. That’s where the journey begins. Nobody is gonna tell you what to do or how you should do it, just do it in a way that helps you to start loving it.
3.You make mistakes. And you own them.
Are you afraid of failing? So is everyone else.
As soon as you start working on something that matters, fear will inevitably be there. And there’s no shame in admitting it.
Many times during my endless search to do better marketing, I ‘thought’ I’d encountered the holy grail of customer acquisition. I felt that sensation (yes, that one I described earlier) and said to myself: “What an idea! This is groundbreaking!”. And many times it was indeed groundbreaking. Yes, when I hit rock bottom and realized that this “ain’t gonna work”, it shook the ground I was standing on.Hours of effort and energy gone to waste. And for what? To make it even better the next time.
“The truth is: Nobody knows how it should be done”.
You get a lot of hands-on experience and you are responsible for your actions: You do something great, you own the success. You do something not so great, you own the failure, learn from it, and move on.
Just like these guys here:
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4. You actively learn. Every. Single. Day.
We all know that life is a never-ending learning process. No matter what you do, or don’t do for that matter, you learn something new every day.
But what I’m talking about here is intentional learning; a longing for knowledge, inspiration and change – that’s what the startup-spirit is all about.
Let’s have a look at these examples about problem-solving in the corporate sense and in the startup-world:
1 Corporate Charlie doesn’t know how to do something.
He will find someone to fix it for him. After all, there are so many people in his company – one of them surely knows how it’s done.The problem is solved and Corporate Charlie has learned: nothing. Or in fact, he has learned that if he’s in trouble, he will just delegate the task to someone else.
2 Startup Steve doesn’t know how to do something.
He’s still gonna do it himself. After all, there are only a handful of people working in this company, and everyone is struggling with their own challenges. He’s scouring the internet for more information on the topic, he’s experimenting with possibilities and in the end, he will tackle the problem by himself. And if not, he has learned something in the process anyway. This is how you conquer challenges in a startup.
What it means is that you think and try it yourself out, before you go and ask someone else. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t ask your colleagues for advice. Your co-workers will be happy to help you, if you have put some thought into it first.
5.You are true to yourself. And you are not afraid of experimenting.
I think it was Albert Einstein who said: “Creativity is intelligence having fun”. For me this is what working in a startup feels like.
A startup is a place for innovation, in other words, the place for those crazy ideas that the corporate world would be too afraid to pick up on.
Be true to yourself and say those ‘outer-space’ ideas out loud. They might not lead to immediate action, but they might lead to something bigger. The big plus of working in a startup is its flexibility, so changes are often happening fast. Fuel that train of change with your ideas. People are the most important asset in every company. You are the most important asset in a startup. Be self-confident and show what you’ve got.
In the end I have only one question left to answer:
What does it take to be part of a successful startup? It takes you to go and join one.
Zervant invoicing software is the proud sponsor of the Startup Weekend in Helsinki. I’ll be there too and I’ll be talking about how our company got more than 65.000 users within 5 years. I’m looking forward to talking about my experiences working in a Finnish startup.
If you have any questions that can’t wait until the startup weekend, simply drop me an email on email@example.com .
It’s been 10 months since Startup Weekend Vantaa: Health & Wellbeing in October 2014 and this time we would like to share the story of PramBag, one of the winners of that edition, who have continued their work and have achieved a lot ever since.
PramBag solves the mobility problem of parents with babies by providing a superlight pram that can easily transform into a backpack. Sabyasachi Ghosh, the team leader, first identified the problem with strollers in India where he was a student at the time. Moving around with traditional heavy strollers created a lot of problems for parents and Sabyasachi and friends tried solving the problem by creating a modular solution, so the first prototype was made back in India. Sabyasachi then came to Finland and met Fabian Sepulveda, one of the coaches and organisers behind the previous editions of Startup Weekend in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. Fabian suggested that a team needs to be formed first and Sabyasachi joined Startup Weekend in October.
As Sabyasachi was working on the idea and the business model on his own, the goal for Startup Weekend was to form a team and get new minds with fresh perspectives into the project. Startup Weekend attendees gave a lot of new directions and enthusiasm to the idea. Eventually, Team PramBag was one of the winners and got 3 month of co-working space and coaching from Aalto Startup Center as a prize. After Startup Weekend, the team continued for another two months. “It is a big commitment for a startup and a lot of us at that stage were not ready”, Sabyasachi comments. After several months the team was formed and now consists of four very committed and experienced individuals who drive it forward.
This summer PramBag was lucky to get into the Summer of Startups programme at Startup Sauna. They received a lot of coaching, one-on-one mentorship with Finland’s best entrepreneurs and most skilled mentors and presented successfully at demo day. Just as Team Froodly excels at validation, PramBag is mastering agile and lean startup methodologies by reiterating the process – they have managed to build and test four prototypes within the summer! In the next months the team has set to do more customer development and prototyping in the near future, get into a hardware accelerator and close initial funding rounds.
PramBag is a great example of how Startup Weekend can help you take your idea forward. When asked what kind of advice he would give to future attendees of Startup Weekend, Sabyasachi says, “Go to Startup Weekend with an open mind. Meet a lot of people. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of networking there. And, get to know people from not just your team but the other teams too”.
We are proud of what PramBag have achieved and we wish them luck! We hope that their story inspires you to get off the ground with your idea and bring it to the next Startup Weekend Helsinki!
It’s been almost two months since we’ve had Startup Weekend Helsinki shake the capital of Finland yet again. In this blog post we would like to share our pride in seeing one of the winning teams continuing working on their idea and taking some big steps towards creating a successful business. We’ve interviewed Brennan Clark from Team Froodly who are eliminating food waste through upselling discounted food at local supermarkets.
Organisers: How did it feel like at Startup Weekend Helsinki?
Brennan: It was my first experience at such kind of events. It was a blast, a lot of fun, a lot of hard work and I got to meet lots of different people, great mentors and coaches. There was a lot of validation – I got to test our idea by talking to real people, it was exciting, it felt like being thrown curve balls – we only had 2.5 days to figure out what to do with our idea. I came to Startup Weekend by myself and met Shahram who pitched the idea of what eventually became Froodly; we both had interest in that so it worked out very well for us.
Organisers: How far did you manage to progress on the original idea from pitching in the beginning of Startup Weekend to the end of the event?
Brennan: The progress was pretty amazing. The initial idea was actually a little different from what we ended up with. We tested some things with that just didn’t seem to work with potential users so we span the idea completely and came up with a new business model.
Organisers: How did you progress after Startup Weekend?
Brennan: After the academic year was over I got back to Helsinki and we’ve been working on the idea with Shahram ever since. We’ve started our first campaign, we’ve got some great contribution from users, we’ve set up our website. Now we’re testing with contributors and first users.
Organisers: Can you briefly describe the idea behind Froodly?
Brennan: Froodly has a dual business model: on one side there are contributors who create content about discounted food, on the other side there are environmentally- and price conscious users who are interested in that content. The contributors get green credits for sharing content that they can cash for green rewards such as planting trees, for example. Froodly is all about being environmentally friendly.
Organisers: What are your plans for the near future?
Brennan: First we are doing a lot of validation – we have already partnered with K-supermarket Kaisaniemi so we’re testing both user and contributor models right now. Once both are validated, we hope to get into an accelerator.
Team Froodly is a great example of how idea development and hard work can continue after Startup Weekend. As organisers, we especially love to see the team taking validation – a very essential part of Startup Weekend – to the next level and testing their model continuously.