The cold north has a warm startup community

wow, that's a lot of people working togehter

As the room swells with people and the Helsinki Startup Weekend GSB edition T-shirts go on, people start to discuss the meaning of their shirt color groupings.  As we make it past the introductions the tension starts to build.  Orange for organisers, volunteers and coaches, purple for engineers, red for developers, blue business, yellow for designers and green for do it alls/generalists.

My first observation is how enjoyable it is to see such a diverse mix of people – students, more seasoned veterans, and enthusiasts all gathered together under no pretext.  All the participants came to work hard this weekend, learn and build something. The event is accomplished through a grass roots volunteer effort and it is a truly whimsical environment. Catering was done by (Epic Foods).

Epic Foods is a startup that was initiated during one of the previous Startup Weekends in Helsinki. For this event all participants and volunteers are lucky to have Mario Di Florio, Ekaterina Perfilyeva, Steve Peltonen and Armand Dupuis – the four who run the community in Finland.

Mario is a self-proclaimed everyman. His enthusiasm exudes as he smiles and delegates responsibilities to members of his team.  When asked how it feels to be in charge of the event his reply is: “No one is in charge, we are a team.” This man’s energy is enough to get the whole crowd to their feet.

Ekaterina is like a general in command – she is soft spoken and handles problems and challenges as gracefully as a Russian figure skater doing a triple axle. Steve is a true professional – very diplomatic and not afraid to get his hands dirty.  Armand is very busy and hard to pin down as he gives all of the participant’s hands on personal service.

First up one of the sponsors – Zervant. Tanya Lindner, their online marketing manager, was very motivational. Her talk let people understand how quickly things can happen in this industry. She spoke about growth models and about how small media budgets can make a big impact. Her info on blogs, delivering the right content at the right time was encouraging and she informed the crowd to speak and get their message out there. “If we can blog about online invoicing software, you can do it. Blogging is a great center piece for your online presence”.

Faraday – winners of the last Startup Weekend Helsinki June 2015 – is a car sharing service; where someone can put a car into the system and get paid, as well as paying for use of a car. The team spoke about their successes and challenges coupled with the up and downs they went through in the last 6 months. They spoke about their time using Aalto Startup Center and Biz Spark. They were very excited for their product alpha testing which is coming up in the next month.

Next Up Toni Perämäki from Microsoft BizSpark, who gave quite a directed and indispensable presentation – no holds bared, right to the point. “I’m with the new Microsoft and we are here to help. The team of ten is here for you anytime in anyway. This is what you get – BizSpark – this is how long you can use it, and I am running to another event, good luck. I will be seeing the winning team very soon.”

Next up Victoria Stoyanova – she is the facilitator from London sent from Startup Weekend Europe.  First engagement – she started speaking, and from the first word she controlled the energy and pace of the event.  Breaking the groups into teams, giving encouragement before the pitches, and generally creating an environment where this group of people could work hard and grow into a community.  The plan is for this new community to enter with a warm welcome as the next entrants into the Helsinki startup ecosystem.


By: K.Andrew Thomas

How a Saturday at Startup Weekend Helsinki looks like

SWHKI 2015 saturday

Yes, it’s been a crazy Saturday! After “a lot of” sleep, and possibly unhealthy doses of coffee, teams have gone through the crucial process of validation.

Changes have taken place in the last 24 hours as the teams have debated, researched, validated, pivoted and dealt with occasional drama and spouts of despair. They’ve all come a long way from “just an idea” on Friday night to something more concrete.
They are pushing towards building a real business with the help of customer feedbacks and the guidance of our awesome coaches.

As far as we can tell from all the late-nighters still working here, the teams are ready to rock our Sunday. Here is the lineup as they stand now:

  • Froodly – Social service for reducing food waste
  • Daily Greens – Makes growing your own food easier
  • Breeze – Community solution for big data
  • Thimble – fashion design production made simple 
  • Street Cred – Social media & e/commerce platform for artists
  • Faraday – Your everyday electric car sharing service
  • Karma – Connects people who are willing to work and those who are in need of small assistance 
  • Kido – A platform for children that provides analytics to parents and providers
  • Investor Eye – Social networking for private investors
 Stay tuned to find out the winner of @SWHelsinki tomorrow!

Let us share a story with you…



we would like to share with you two stories, intertwined…. the story of Anna-Maija Sulonen (Ansku), one of the winners of the last Startup Weekend, and the one of BooknHeal, a company who won a place into Vertical during the latest Upgraded Life Festival.

Ansku is in her final year as a PhD student at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM). For her PhD thesis, she concentrates on the development and application of novel methods in molecular disease genetics, in particular the genetics of multiple sclerosis. Her personal interests in disease genetics are to enable efficient but accessible tools for studies of inherited diseases, with great emphasis on clinical use.

After experiencing major depression, she wanted to improve and ease access to mental health care and psychotherapy. Thus in the spring 2015 she joined a start-up called @Care with the same mission. Her responsibility in the company is to develop an innovative matching tool which makes finding the right therapist fast and easy.

This is what BooknHeal have to say about Ansku…
…“In spring 2015 the team was joined by Anna-Maija Sulonen (Ansku), an MD and a researcher. Ansku had participated to a Startup Weekend event in Vantaa and had pitched in a competition with her idea of using a matching algorithm to connect patients with the right psychotherapists. She won the competition and the news spread to Henri. It didn’t take long for them to decide to join forces”…

We are proud of Ansku too. We think she is a great example for all of our attendees, and that’s why she is going to be one of our speaker on Friday 12. She is going to talk about her experience with Startup Weekend.

We want you to be part of our Startup Weekend Helsinki too. You never know you might find your next co-founder, a business partner, or a friend with a bold idea that could change the lives of billions (with B).

What we know is that Startup Weekend fosters entrepreneurship. We facilitate the expression of all those awesome ideas that you always had, but never being in the right place at the right time to express. Or maybe it’s “just” a lot of fun, and you have to be there, if you happen to be in Finland.

Whatever the reason, let us share this story 😉