Learnings from F20 and the virtual year

December 22, 2020
Written by 
Pauliina Lämsä

The year 2020 - W O W. It has been a lot of things but most of all full of perseverance and innovation. This year ended up being a fully remote Kiuas year, hundreds of hours spent in Zoom. Don’t get me wrong - this year is definitely a success and some aspects of the remote programs are here to stay, for good. We went remote, international, sustainable and the whole team changed during the last 7 months - Before we see what 2021 has to offer (for better or worse), a few thoughts and observations looking back at this year.

In total, we selected 54 teams to our programs, out of 358 applications. The latest program, Kiuas Start Fall 20 consisted of 18 incredible teams. Even though this batch had fewer applications, the quality made up for it. Almost every application was relevant, which made it difficult for us to choose only 18 teams. This is likely because all of the applying startups were either founded during the pandemic or have survived it - but personally I believe that what drove the quality was our decision to focus on sustainability-focused teams.

It was high time for Kiuas to further contribute in making our world a better place. This is exactly what we did - for the first time ever, one of the core criteria for selection was sustainability. We wanted to see teams that are passionate and ambitious about solving real-world problems related to SDGs and guess what?

We saw more than 75 of them! 

As the 4-week long Kiuas Start finished a few weeks ago, I wanted to reflect on some of the highlights and feedback we received. Feedback is something that we truly believe in. This is how we are able to improve our programs as well as know whether we have reached the expectations. Surprisingly, compared to pre-pandemic programs, this year, the virtual versions have received better overall feedback.  

The average rating of Kiuas Start Fall 2020 was a stunning 9.75.

Weeklies are about supporting each other and sharing the knowledge from one founder to another. Even though we did not see dramatic changes in the weekly ratings, personally, I believe that these are better in real life instead of remote. People want interactions and this is the place to get to know each other better. For the past two years the weeklies have been rated between the range of 8.5-8.7 on average.

“Although everything was remote, we felt a genuine connection to everybody in the program.”

Workshops are the foundation of the program alongside the weeklies and one-on-ones. They contain “must-have” topics such as go-to-market strategy, metrics and product-market fit. We always try different combinations, and this time it really paid off - the average feedback increased to a record 8.94.

“Everybody was involved and I've seldom been in such productive and energizing online meetings.”

One-on-one sessions are my favorite. What better way to learn from the best than through an intimate 40-minute personal conversation. Regarding 1-on-1s, there were more than 50 mentors available for the 12 mentoring hours per team - every team got to spar with 9-12 mentors during the program. During the month, each team got 12 hours of 1-on-1’s, for which they got to choose from a pool of 50 mentors. I think the feedback tells enough about the mentoring quality - it received an average score of 9,44.

“I would not be here if I didn't go through the program. I wouldn't believe in myself or the company this much, I wouldn't be ready to put the big gear on and actually prepare for the launch or talk with investors etc.”

Even though we end 2020 on a high note, the upcoming year is going to be big for us. Stay tuned for more, and have peaceful holidays (seriously take a break)!

Best, Pauliina

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