Arctic15… check!

25 Sep

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!

Our Business Development Intern, Filip, shows how real networking is done.

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 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.

On stage at Arctic15

Pitching on stage at Arctic15

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, Jens Begeman from, Patric Blixt of Rebtel, Richard White of 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.

The SunyRide team - Kristaps & Sandis, with Filip in the middle

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.


Posted by on 25 September, 2011 in Entrepreneurship


3 responses to “Arctic15… check!

  1. Mia Jung (@miajung)

    25 September, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Regarding the female entrepreneurs… They exist but too few of them. Especially the ones with the guts to dare to take up the challenge of changing the game of today or at least to say it out loud.

    My co-founder and I are both females and face the female minority issue all the time. Not that this is a problem (except that we often spend some more time convincing tech people, we know our shit, but I calculated those 15 min into the variable costs).

    I do believe this is due to many different reasons and not just a single one. But my experience is that few girls conquer the expectation that still exist in the society of girls always playing by the conventional rules, and have a misunderstood modesty, lack of will or insecurity of standing out alone in the vulnerable spotlight taking both fame and tomatoes with no one else to hide behind. But maybe I am wrong??

    However, it would be great to see more females daring to take that spotlight on the scene. If you are out there, I would love to hear from you!

    (For my personal part, we were busy doing business in Stockholm during the time of Arctic15 and entertaining a special couple of powerguys you may have heard of from a pretty cool start up in Denmark within the graduate recruitment industry, who were visiting ;))

    Congrats with the award boys! You rock and totally deserve it.

  2. patricklundcph

    25 September, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Mia, I agree with you, that the female entrepreneurs are out there, however few they may be.

    But if the surprisingly low number of females on stage is caused by an inherent discontent with standing in the spotlight, resulting in only a fraction of them applying for the startup competitions, I fear the time when we will see gender seperated startup competitions, just in order for them to make it to the finals and subsequently get on stage.

    I read about a competition (, with a wide range of entrepreneurial categories, one of them being Female Entrepreneur of the year. The remaining were for everybody. This explicitly states that the playing field is not level, if males and females compete against each other. And that is lame.

    And I’m not saying that you are either for or against one or the other, this is only illustrating a trend – one we also see when looking at the boards across the business environment, where a limited number of women has to be present.

    By the way, I know the powerboys you were hanging out with, the told me that they were a great host!

  3. Mia Jung (@miajung)

    25 September, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I do agree with you in the point that females should get special treatment. Strong emphasism on this! Quotation is not the goal. And NO, females should not be in a “special category” in competitions against “normal” start ups.

    However, when that is said, I do see this tendency in a wider perspective. The ideal scenario with more visible female entrepreneurs and where we should of course end, is not where we are now. I do think that female entrepreneurs should to some extent be encouraged to step up. The means to this, can be discussed. I won’t take a stand on that in this context. But the fact is, that they are not visible and there are very few female role models. This is no excuse, but more a theoretical question to debate if we should just leave it like that and say that this is just the way it is, or if we should in some way or another try to help this development of role models? (Again methods can be discussed).

    In a recent blog post I remember having seen some discontent with the way universities encourage and facilitates students to be entrepreneurs ;). Should we just leave it like this and say that this is just a shame for them? And leave it to the students that has it in them and will make it anyways while the rest should just get over themselves or drop the entrepreneur dream and get a job in corporate America?

    The current situation is not the end goal, and we are far from the end goal of today. There is such thing as a temporary solution to facilitate and drive development. Some facilitation of birth can be done for everyone – students, females, unemployed to encourage the start up. And the means to this can be different.


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