The program started on Thursday 17th of September, with 17 Korean startup companies participating in a one-week introductory phase, an event-packed week starting with an introduction to Finnish Business Culture and the startup ecosystem and continuing with meetings with various relevant industry contacts, as well as one-on-one meetings with the Aalto Startup Center advisors.
This year’s pre-program and main-program is a pilot project and is organized remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The intention is to turn the program into an annually permanent collaboration, with both stages organized in Finland, in Aalto Startup Center’s premises, and to include enriching activities, such as field trips and events to embrace the vibrant ecosystem of the Helsinki region.
Throughout the week, the Korean startups also received over 20 hours of valuable mentoring from professionals from various fields. On the last day, the participating startups could learn about Venture Funding in The Nordics from Jari Mieskonen, before they celebrated the end of this first part of the program in the Diploma Ceremony. In addition, during the week the Korean startups were also introduced to the Helsinki-region startup and innovation ecosystem.
The pre-program was a great success. The participating startups emphasized how it provided them with a unique opportunity to expand their network and familiarise themselves with the Finnish startup ecosystem as well as having pushed them to test their global ability. An extensive amount of mentoring sessions and business meetings had helped to understand the Finnish business model and encouraged the startups to expand and go global. Finland was referred to as ‘a model for other countries’. For some, the Introductory Program finally clarified what the Finnish ‘Sisu’ is all about and gave motivation and inspiration to move to the European market via Finland. One participant gave the feedback that he felt like he was a different CEO now than he was before attending the program.
Out of the 17 startups, 10 most suitable candidates were selected to continue to the second phase of the program. In the selection process, the evaluation board emphasized the market potential of the solutions and the general maturity for entering the market.
The Main program started on 12th October and is an intensive 10-week long Market Entry and Business Development Program which will prepare the startups to access the Nordic and European markets.
The K-Startup Center is in co-operation with the Korean Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development (KISED). The collaboration is the first concrete initiative to tighten the bond between these two booming ecosystems and to aid market entry into the Nordics for Korean companies.