We've now returned to Copenhagen after spending 5 weeks in one of the most highly competitive startup accelerators in Europe. It's time to digest all the input and feedback we've gotten from the more than 60 business coaches, workshops and other events, but here are some initial reflections of what we've learned from spending 5 weeks in a sauna.
Application process for the Startup Sauna
We applied to the Startup Sauna program because of a recommendation from an advisor and potential investor who thought it'd be a good idea for us to join to further develop our business. If we could pass the bar to get accepted of course.
We got selected to do the first pitch via Skype. After this two teams got selected and was flown to Finland to partake in a larger pitch competition. From this process we got selected as one of the top 40'ish teams to create some additional material (bio's of the team members, business model canvas etc.) for the coaches who'd then down-select the final 14 that would join the program.
Partaking in the Startup Sauna
After getting selected we quickly made the decision to go since we figured it would be awesome to concentrate on business development intensively for a full five weeks. In that way we could really polish our pitching materials so it could easily be sent to interested investors. After the accelerator we could then really be able to concentrate fully on product development based on both input from coaches but also potential customers.
The program consisted of weekly coaching, pitching, lectures, refining business models and a great deal of networking with potential partners and customers. All the sessions were of high quality and performed by experienced startup entrepreneurs and professionals in the field. The coaching sessions lasted 20-60 minutes depending on the coach and the relevance of the coach's experience compared to our needs. All in all, very good!
Takeaways from the Startup Sauna
We encountered amazing startups and made great friends. Our weekends were full of activity, a lot of work but also seeing some of the sights of Finland. We have had a full and super intensive set of weeks really digging into our pitch skills, pitch materials and value proposition. Work has been almost non-stop and we have really progressed immensely as a company, which we couldn't have done in such a short time ourselves. So in that sense it was without a doubt worth the time. Also, we have gotten so many new business contacts and 15+ investors have gotten our new pitch deck.
The Startup Sauna accelerator helps promising early-stage startups to get ready for taking the next step, be it entering their market or raising a seed round of funding. Their coaches are some of the most talented serial entrepreneurs, investors and other industry experts in Finland and the surrounding region.
Startup Sauna is open for startups from all fields of business as long as the company has the potential to scale globally and a superb team that can deliver. The program is a five-week program for the most promising startups from Nordics, Eastern Europe and Russia.
Startup Sauna had a record-breaking 545 applications, of which 14 startups were selected lowering the acceptance rate to an all-time low 2.6%.
The only thing that remains now is taking action on all the things we have gathered during the program. This means more focused product and customer development and getting the needed traction so we can push hard for our first large investment and thus start to hire some more people. The journey has just begun.
We highly recommend spending 5 weeks in a Startup Sauna, if you get the chance. You'll sweat insanely but also learn a lot.