Introducing Nea: 3 questions for the new Kiuas CEO
How did you end up at Kiuas?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my adult life. An e-commerce store that started out as a fun hobby project to do after high school, sparked up a fire inside of me towards building new things and solving problems through entrepreneurship. Fast forward a few years I stumbled upon the world of startups and back then Kiuas was one of my first touchpoints to the Finnish ecosystem. It was a magical experience, finding out that there was a whole community of creative and ambitious people who on top of those qualities were always willing to help new founders on their journey. This encounter then led me and my cofounders to start working on an ecommerce technology startup of our own. My time as a startup founder was an adventure of a lifetime and with minimal resources, we achieved things we never would have imagined possible, but ultimately we were unable to find a product-market fit.
Having admired the level of ambition and the quality of its services, it was an honour to join the Kiuas Team when the opportunity presented itself. Having been in the shoes of our founders as a Kiuas Incubator alumni, I am beyond excited that I now get to spend my days helping other founders make their dreams come true.
What is the focus of Kiuas today and what does the future look like?
From my perspective, Kiuas has a very unique role in the ecosystem. Through our programs, we get to help founders in the most concrete way possible, anything from “how should I build my MVP” all the way to introducing them to the right investors. This year we have decided to focus on restructuring the accelerator to drill even deeper into the individual pain points of our founders. More than ever, our focus is strongly on accelerating their journey towards product-market fit.
I feel very privileged to join Kiuas’ mission at this point of its journey. Growing from a student-led initiative to a world-class accelerator in a few years is obviously already a crazy achievement, but I know the best days of Kiuas are yet to come. A few things I am really looking for from the years to come: Embracing a stronger founder to founder mentality and unleashing all the knowledge that is stored within our 450 alumni to create an even stronger culture of recycling best practices with the new generation of founders.
Being a former founder, what are your best tips for new founders?
A few things I wish I would have really understood at the beginning of my founder journey:
In the early days, I wouldn’t focus on anything other than validating my hypothesis. I would not recommend spending time on designing your logo or workshopping your vision statement, but instead, use every working hour on talking to as many potential users as possible and actually listening to their problems to figure out what you should be building to solve them. Figure out what is the biggest hypothesis you are making and find a way to test it as quickly as you can.
It took me the longest time to understand that funding to startup is nothing more than what filling the gas tank is to a car. It only helps you if you have a clear destination and a skillful driver. Funding itself should never be seen as the goal nor does it magically solve any problems. I wish I had spent half as much time rigorously looking for product-market fit as I did on fine-tuning the pitch deck.