Kiuas Start - From 0 to 1 in 3 weeks
During these three weeks we have witnessed Founders Talks from successful startup founders — Risto Siilasmaa (founder of F-Secure), Albert Nazander (co-founder of Meru Health) and Maria Ritola (co-founder of Iris.ai); workshops held by industry experts, such as the MVP workshop by Mikko Honkanen (co-founder of Vainu.io); and numerous one-on-one mentoring sessions with a wide range of professionals from various different fields of expertise.
NIC (nicsdk.com) found out about Kiuas Start in the pre-event of the Dash design hackathon (dash.design).
“One of the things that attracted us was that the program was especially for students and working people, so it meant that we could work on our project after our day-jobs. Another thing, probably the most important one, was that we already had a product that was really promising and unique that we really wanted work on, but we didn’t exactly know which direction to go with it”, team NIC’s Katja Dianoff tells us.
Sideflow’s (sideflow.fi) story is quite similar to that of NIC’s: they needed some support and feedback about their approach to decide on their MVP solution. Bikefy (bikefy.eu) already had some experience from Kiuas before applying for Kiuas Start — right before the program started, they participated Kiuas Bootcamp, an idea validation weekend, where they realized how valuable the one-on-one mentoring sessions were:
“I participated in Kiuas Bootcamp and got great mentoring, so this seemed like the best chance to get even more feedback and insights. And I was hoping to find like-minded people to spar with”, Bikefy’s founder Norbert Schmidt explains.
When the program started, NIC had an Android SDK, server processor, a website with minimum information and an example app (Uber without Internet).
“Initially we thought of making an additional app that uses NIC SDK and has offline transactions. At the end of the first week, we already had a better picture on what we should focus on doing — instead of concentrating on examples, we should concentrate on our service and make ourselves more approachable. During the 3 weeks we already got inquiries from potential clients about NIC. Therefore, making our service, pricing and contract more clear became a real issue to work on”, Katja explains.
Bikefy’s starting point was an ongoing trial for their electric folding bike subscription model:
“In the beginning of the program, I was in the middle of a trial with three companies in Aviapolis, Vantaa, testing out the service with business customers. Now I’m at the end of the trial, but with a lot more guidance of how I could possibly turn this into a business. I still lack co-founders and money, but I believe with the feedback I got, I’m a lot closer to getting there”, Norbert says.
The most beneficial part of the program for NIC were the mentors and peers who knew to ask the right questions:
“Talking about our product to our peers and mentors has actually made NIC more clear to us, since they asked us questions that we couldn’t have been able to answer before. Why are we doing this? Who are we selling to? How are we selling?”
Bikefy agrees with NIC:
“The one-on-one mentoring was incredibly valuable. Additionally, the exchange with the other teams was really great and the weekly meetings helped quite a bit with that.”
Sideflow emphasizes the importance of spending time with like-minded people:
“The program gave us what we came for — the most valuable part has been sharing and reflecting our ideas with other people; the amazing set of mentors as well as other startups. The program had a great spirit with talented, enthusiastic people supporting each other for the best outcome.”