Startup Accelerator – Does it pay a visit?

For me personally, it’s hard to find words for describing time in Kiuas Accelerator. It has just been amazing!

Continue reading to know why.

Recap

Our company got accepted among 17 other new ventures into the best Finnish startup accelerator called Kiuas Accelerator in this June 2019 (former Summer of Startups). The program would last for two months during the hottest part of Finnish summer.

We knew the program will be divided under different topics, like Product-Market fit, Growth, International scaling and Funding, relevant to new businesses . We also knew the other companies participating were around the same stage we were. This gave us a wish to expect lots of good conversations with other founders who are probably facing the same kind of possibilities and threats we did.

Happened so far

Week #1 – Kiuas Accelerator 2019 Opening

  • WHY? by Torsti Tenhunen
  • Meeting the partners of Kiuas
  • First BBQ
  • Goal setting and first mentoring sessions (we pitched our vision to people like Riku Asikainen familiar from Finnish Shark Tank and Ilkka Kivimäki founder of a Finnish top tier venture capital firm Maki.vc)

Week #2 – Dream big. Work hard. Make it happen.

  • Story of Mårten Mickos (CEO of HackerOne, prior CEO of MySQL and lots of other interesting positions)
  • Workshop of how you meter a success of your digital business
  • Customer development and product-market fit by Oskari Kettunen (co-founder of Neverthink)

Week #3 – Do it right. Financially and legally.

  • Resilience and team problem solving by Mari Järvinen and Mari Jokiranta from Profounder
  • Cashflow optimization and funding options by Nordea
  • Second BBQ

Week #4 – Development: Pedal to the metal.

  • 5 lessons on user experience by Elias Aalto (co-founder of Wolt & Qvik)
  • 48h to be used in ONE BIG software improvement. Food and drinks were provided by wonderful Kiuas team.

Week #5 – Can we scale?

  • Kaj Hagros (former CEO of Tecnotree) introduced us mindblowing cases how different companies have entered their target markets
  • Second mentoring sessions (we met for example with Jyrki Paananen, co-founder of Brella who had just came back from a four-year-trip in the US and so many other very interesting and helpful people like Phil Laszkowicz and Nora Huovila)
  • 10 companies participated SHIP Festival in Kotka (a team from the latest Kiuas Start patch won the competition!)

Goal setting

In the beginning of this journey were asked to set goals of the program.

We wanted to:

  • Be ready for the first international customers
  • Widen our network of international distributors
  • Support the growth by recruiting new people and acquiring the first round of external funding

Our progress within these goals are the reason for my excitement. Unfortunately can’t tell much more yet but hmmm.. looking good!  

Feelings from the mid-way

This journey has really been worth of a visit. Our expectations towards the program were pretty much including only a mental help from other participating teams and mentors. Nothing fancier than that. What we have gained already?

We are at least a light year away from the starting point when we speak out loud what our solution does and how our customers will benefit out of it. This is because we have needed to repeat our pitch so many times to different people with different point of views. By using the feedback given, we have been able to understand better how we can really help our customers.

Of course, knowing that makes it much, much more easier to speak out your vision to other important stakeholders like recruitment candidates, investors and at last but not least, to describe your spouse why is it so important to spend long hours with helping the world be a better place.

Wrap it up!

So if a company like us which working to push the fitness industry a bit further by helping in floor space utilization and management, can fit in the kind of startup accelerator. Your company can probably do the same. Honest recommendation of ours is that if your company ever has a chance to apply a program like Kiuas Accelerator, YOU SHOULD DO IT. It can take your business so much forward that it’s very hard to even imagine. As you can read and feel, we are still so thrilled of this program.

I look forward to get to the point where I can tell you how we did with the goals of the program.

Written by Aki Illikainen, CEO & Co-Founder of Indoor Informatics.

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