6 months of Kiuas Inside (and the story behind it)
Kiuas Inside started from a problem we identified among our target audience – the difficulty of finding co-founders. Over the years, we had been regularly contacted by skilled people either looking for projects to join as co-founders, or looking for co-founders to join their own projects. The fact that we, or anyone else in the Finnish startup ecosystem, didn’t have a solution to effectively support these people, pushed us to do something about it.
Back in the early days of Kiuas, we tried to address the problem of finding co-founders with an event concept – Kiuas Team Up. Organized in 2016-2018, Team Up's produced fair results (e.g. the winning team of the first event ended up founding Rens) but never really reached the objectives we originally aimed for. The events tended to attracted mainly those with great ideas but no skills to execute them, i.e. business people looking for developers. Developers, on the other hand, weren’t that excited about attending networking events...
The solution had to be something that was ongoing (searching for a co-founder is often quite a short time frame), could be accessed anytime & over the internet, and wouldn’t be limited to the scale of a physical event.
The original idea for Kiuas Inside came in July 2019. The first concept was an online platform consisting of projects and resources (check the first drawings), but Niklas had a great idea of adding profiles into the mix as well.
Before getting our hands dirty in actually building* the solution, we interviewed about 20 potential users within our network to better understand their needs and current ways of solving the problem. Without these, we most likely would have ended up with a product that nobody wants to use. Practice what you preach, right?
*The entire product has been built in-house, drop me a message if you want to hear more about it!
After spending the summer building a functionable version of the platform, announcing the beta at Demo Day ‘19, and improving the platform based on the feedback for another two months, we finally launched Kiuas Inside for the public on 22 October 2019.
“This is one of the best initiatives in a while, solving one of the greatest problems about starting your own venture: finding the right people besides you. Looking forward to seeing all the great projects in the platform!”
“This platform brings a lot of value to the startup ecosystem in Finland and I really appreciate the work the team has put into building it. Every startup and entrepreneur should definitely join the platform”
- Feedback from our beta users
Fast forward to today, over 1000 people have joined Kiuas Inside, while more than 50 projects and nearly 100 profiles have been posted on the platform. These projects and profiles have drawn great amount of attention, resulting in a handful of new teams formed – some of which also applied to our latest Kiuas Start (and even ended up in the program 😍)
To sum up the first 6 months and give a glimpse of who’s actually using Kiuas Inside, here's a little rundown of our 40-some most active users:
As perhaps expected, there’s a large concentration of people with a business background looking for co-founders. Still, we’ve been fortunate to serve a great number of people with backgrounds in tech – as well as other fields like design and legal.
A local audience has been great to start with, as people typically aim to search for co-founders from their own region. However, one of our goals for 2020 is to reach a wider audience in all parts of Finland, not just Helsinki. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how to approach this!
The majority of the frequent users of Kiuas Inside have already graduated, with an average of 5.2 years from graduation. What a better time to start a company?
In terms of work experience, recent graduates are leading the way. Still, there’s a nice distribution of people with different experience levels, from recent graduates to domain experts with tens of years of experience.
We’ve spent the past weeks interviewing a handful of our users to paint a better picture of the current state of the platform. Overall, the feedback has been great: most of our interviewees had met with potential co-founders as a result of the messages they had sent or received, and a few even ended up joining forces with a like-minded founder.
Some users are using Kiuas on a weekly, or even a daily, basis to actively search for new people to join their projects, while some have just joined it to try it out and set themselves available for people to reach out to.
A common view is that Kiuas Inside is very needed for the Finnish startup ecosystem and fills a niche in the market, and now it’s just the matter of scaling up and reaching a wider audience.
Needless to say, we are super excited to see what the future holds for Kiuas Inside.
To keep improving Kiuas Inside, we'd love to hear your feedback. How have you used the platform? What did or didn’t you like about it?
Answer the survey and you're free to grab some exclusive Kiuas merch from Startup Sauna (once opened again) 💎