By Erika Halonen
In 2015, Singapore was ranked among the top 10 Global Startup Ecosystems by Compass.co. Known to be the premier startup launchpad of Southeast Asia, Singapore is one of the most vibrant ecosystems in Asia with excellent funding opportunities, market reach and startup experience. Last week, we went there with a happy bunch of startups and other friends from Finland and our Nordic neighbors. After the trip, my colleague asked me if I got something concrete out of the trip. Good question, let’s talk about it!
In all honesty, traveling for work, especially to a new place where you haven’t been before, is always a bit of a gamble. It takes a lot of time and even though you have an agenda for what you are hoping to achieve, things might not always go as planned. Our agenda for this trip, was to bring Nordic startups to Slush Singapore and get them some exposure, to represent Maria 01 and Helsinki together with the delegation from the city of Helsinki, and to meet with local hubs and co-working spaces to find partners.
On the first part of our agenda we collaborated with the #NordicMade, SUP46, Icelandic Startups and CPHFTW, family to find the best Nordic startups in health, fintech and cleantech. #NordicMade is an initiative by the Nordic startup community to showcase the region to the world. The Nordic startup community is determined to build traction in the Nordics globally. We also collaborated with PwC and Nordea to reach local investors and build an informative program for the startups. It was really great to see so many different organisations working together and showing the strength of the Nordic startup community!
The camaraderie that built up before the trip even started, and that only grew stronger during our stay in Singapore was something else (we had shared a Whatsapp chat for all Nordic delegates).
There really was a sense that, if anyone of us succeeds here, it will benefit everyone else, as well in the long run by opening doors, building networks and gathering interest for Nordic startups.
This is exactly what we need more of and I’m grateful to all our delegates and partners for this. And, as if this was not enough, I heard from our startups that they had met with investors from Singapore, China and even Australia. Hopefully we will soon hear more good news related to this.
At the main event itself we had a chance to walk around and meet local startups as well as spend time at the “City of Helsinki” stand. I have to say, Helsinki’s stand was by far the best looking at the event, with a bar disk of actual ice! Winter is coming… The city delegation seemed pleased and rightfully so. In addition to Slush, they organised several side events during the week, which were all full and received plenty of positive feedback.
Personally, jet lag got the best of me when it was time to go see local hubs and co-working spaces, but luckily our CEO Voitto was up for the task. He met with Founders first: Lattice 80, Collision 8, Spacemob, and The Great Room. Soon we’ll have a partner hub in Singapore, more about this later on.
From a personal perspective, traveling for work has a funny effect. Sometimes you need to get some distance between yourself and the office in order to see things clearly. Now I’m energized and inspired with plenty of new ideas on how to improve Maria 01 even more. I also think that some of the bonding between the different Finnish and Nordic delegates that happened during this trip would not have happened here in Finland. Sounds strange? Sometimes you just need a new perspective to find a common ground. That new perspective can be as simple as traveling to a far off place just to realize how much can be gained from working together with companies and people in your vicinity.
Coming back to how it is always a gamble to travel to new places for work, sometimes you end up getting more than you had expected.
Finally, a BIG thank you to the Slush team as well as all our participating startups and partners!
Curious about the startups that were there as part of the #NordicMade delegation? Have a look: