Recap on the startup events at MindTrek 11:57 on Friday
Watching the startup pitches during Thursday was probably the most interesting program of MindTrek. What made it interesting was not so much about the startups, but the way the jury drilled into the pitches and how they forced the founders to answer tough questions. I’m not going into whether the questions were always the right ones, but nevertheless, it was highly interesting. There’s more discussion about the pitches in Jaiku and more info about the jury in Arctic Startup blog.
Reflecting on those sessions and the admittedly unprepared pitches, I realized that:
Not one of the startups demonstrateda highly viable business model
- All of the startups were “web 2.0″ startups: about community building, online services, technology platforms, etc.
- Young, hungry teams, and like Setok said in the Jaiku discussion, people who
still think it’s easy [to set up a startup] so they’ll go for it and only later realise the deep hole they got themselves into :-). People who are passionate not only about what they’re doing, but about being a part of a startup, and spending their free time perfecting The Pitch.
I thought why the startups I know personally were not participating in this pitching competition, or have not been participating at any Arctic Startup events, and I realized that:
- They all have viable business models not rooted in advertising, or tiny commissions on millions of transactions, but actual sales
- They are not about web 2.0, even if they are creating online tools or using/creating high end technology
- They comprise of seasoned people in their thirties, with years of experience working in their field of expertise, with families to support and mortgages to pay. People who believe strongly in what they’re doing, but at the same time are very aware of the risk they’re taking. They worry about things like salaries and profit, value the few hours a week they can put aside and not think about work, and they think of the startup experience more in terms of it being something that will be a valuable experience in the future, after they have seen how it went down.
As far as I know, Arctic Startup is the one and only active arena for startups to shine in Finland, and they deserve the utmost respect for what they do. I wonder if there is something that they could do to attract a bigger variety of startups to participate, to avoid the “Arctic Startup circle” becoming merely a circle of fresh graduates who have a blast hanging together in bars. To bring in less “web 2.0 minded” people, and maybe more traditional business people who have started new companies (a “startup” is in plain language a “new company” after all, isn’t it?). I’m confident this would be beneficial both ways — the hungry young people could learn from those who have been through trials and errors, and the web 2.0 crowd could ignite the thinking of the more traditional people. This is something for Arctic Startup guys to think about.