15 startups – 10 minutes on stage – 1 (actually 2) winner(s)
Graduateland takes home the Public Prize, based on online votes by the audience (and whatever external networks that could be leveraged). BOOMSHAKALAKA!
Alright, we’ll start at the beginning. We landed in Helsinki Wednesday. We were on the same flight at Martin Ferro from Conferize (also co-founder of Issuu.com) who we actually ended up spending a lot of time with. But wait, who’s we? Since the Graduateland team had other engagements back in Copenhagen, we had needed to split up, and I had invited our Business Development Inten, Filip, along on the trip. He turned out to be a great help, and was a great networker on our behalf. We’re currently competing on who gets most LinkedIn connections.
There was some networking event Wednesday night, called Nordic Meetup. Always good to have others take charge in planning stuff, which you can just tag along to. The buzz was truly entrepreneurial, taking me back to our trip to Silicon Valley. Everybody was talking to everybody, pitching their ideas, challenging the others’ business concepts, exchanging freshly printed business cards and drinking beer. We got to know a Latvian startup called SunyRide, who we ended up bumping into during our stay in Finland, but more of that later.
Also, many of the startups, that had not qualified to the final event were at the bar, however mostly the Finnish teams.
The Arctic15 event was hosted by ArcticStartup and located at a conference center just outside of Helsinki downtown. We were 15 startups from the area (Scandinavia, Baltic countries etc.) and everybody would have 10 minutes on stage, in order to convince the four-member jury that they were the most potential startup of the year.
The startups were divided into three batches, which were spread across the event program. Graduateland was in the last batch, meaning that I had to pitch as one of the last. This of course resulted in a much longer period in which I could sit and go though my pitch in my head, however also a much longer period to be anxious. Thirdly, the time to be approached by interested investors was much shorter, as the event finished shortly after the Graduateland presentation.
Anyways, there were some cool businesses on stage, many that seemed that they had potential to become big. However, I found it difficult to concentrate as I was focusing on what I was going to say myself. Of all the pitches there was only one female on stage… where are all the girls? Maybe they are spending their time at university, because it doesn’t seem as if they are out establishing businesses.
As with any tech conference, you need keynote speakers, and Arctic15 was not short of these. We heard the co-founder of Reddit and Hipmunk, Steve Huffman, Felix Smith from Getamen.com, Jens Begeman from wooga.com, Patric Blixt of Rebtel, Richard White of Uservoice.com and others.
The jury’s choice was the Swedish startup, Mancx. Congrats, guys. I hope your vision of paid knowledge sharing pans out.
Throughout the conference people had the option of voting for their favourite startup. Interestingly, many votes were cast much before the startups had even been on stage, our own included. Insane Facebook sharing will forever ruin online votes.
This was the prize we won – The Audience Price – along with €5.000 in adverting on ArcticStartup’s website. Looking forward to come up with a strategy of how to execute it.
The winners were announced at an event in Helsinki later that night, once again while business cards and drink tickets were flying through the air.
Last day in Helsinki, and second day in a row where we had to get up way too early, considering our ‘socializing’ the previous night. Off to meet some investors, who had shown interest in our company. However, it turned out to be pretty lame, as the investors didn’t even know what we did, and had just signed up to meet the odd money-hungry startups, that they could act superior to. I don’t have high expectations of what these meeting will lead to.
We met the guys from SunyRide again, and they had apparently participated in a Finnish incubator in the Espoo area during the summer, so they knew the area, and we keen to show us around, and introduce us to the entrepreneurial society. We met with the people at Aalto Ventures Garage, the Aalto University’s incubator program, which seems very cool.
The SunyRide boys also introduced us to a startup, they had met during their stay in June. They were building an iPad based information engine that provides information based on your preferences and on your network. We got a quick demonstration of the product, which will be launched sometime in the future. Keep an eye on Futureful.
Afterwards, straight to the airport, home, out for drinks.