Helsinki Startup Day exceeded expectations


“Cities must take startup companies seriously and understand that they have a lot of potential. When the companies succeed and internationalise, they bring large amounts of tax income,” says Marek Kiisa, one of Estonia’s most well-known business angels.

The City of Helsinki took on the challenge on Tuesday with the Helsinki Startup Day, an event open to everyone, offering the chance to network with startup companies and meet investors and accelerators.

The main organiser of the event was the City’s Enterprise Services NewCo Helsinki, and the other organisers were the Finnish Business Angels Network FiBAN, education business accelerator xEdu, Slush’s summer version the Start North community and the twin city Talsinki project.

The day featured a packed programme including everything from workshops to pitches and expert presentations.
Marek Kiisa was one of the workshop facilitators and a panellist in the afternoon. Kiisa and another panellist, New York-based investor Stephan Reckie, both emphasised the building of trust and the significance of the entrepreneur’s passion. Of course, new companies must also be able to sell their idea.

“Pitching must be done continuously, not only at pitching events. And your passion for your idea must show,” said Reckie.

An immediate success

The first ever Helsinki Startup Day was a success. The head of NewCo Helsinki Tommo Koivusalo says that when the planning and organising of the pilot event was started the expected turnout was two to three hundred people. Instead, there were a thousand registrations.

“The popularity of the event suggests that there is a strong startup ecosystem with a vast reputation.”

The event gained the interest of not only startup companies and investors but also the international media.

“Other cities do not organise free events open to everyone such as this one. But we in Helsinki want to be original in a good way,” says Koivusalo.

In his opening words to the event, Koivusalo asked the participants for feedback, which will be taken into account when planning future events.

The City’s Mayor Jan Vapaavuori amused the audience in his greeting speech by asking a couple of times if he’s pitching Helsinki enough. He mentioned a long list of aspects that make Helsinki one of the most fascinating cities in Europe. Among other things, Helsinki is stable but creative, dependable and the right size. Its location is no longer described as a distant corner of Europe either, but instead the most convenient route to Asia.

At the event, the City wanted to award a company, community or individual, who does valuable work in developing communality and the startup ecosystem. The choice was not easy, since there are a lot of such operators.

The award was eventually given to Microsoft Flux, a free communal workspace with meeting rooms and startup services.


Read the full article here.

P.S. You can watch a video of the event here.