• News
  • People
  • Long Read
  • Opinion
  • Weekend Wrap


Build your startup ecosystem, not ours

Our startup ecosystem in Finland and the Nordics has gotten international recognition for quite a while now.

Our startup ecosystem in Finland and the Nordics has gotten international recognition for quite a while now, and tons of visitors have come to study our model. One thing people have trouble understanding is that it doesn’t matter what we’ve built or how we’ve built it, but who built it. By who, I’m referring to the people, and their underlying values, culture and attitude.

Especially the attitude towards getting your ass kicked. By life. And preferably hard. People have always feared failure but it’s actually a consequence of potential success and a tremendous learning experience at the least. The fact that you’ve failed, results from the fact that you’ve tried to succeed. Now what’s wrong in trying to succeed?

A few weeks ago I was in Cyprus building peace with the Turkish and Greek Cypriots through entrepreneurship, and someone said Finland’s startup ecosystem is the best. I kindly have to disagree. It’s the best system for Finland and it’s what works here but it’s necessarily not the best for everyone.

When building a startup ecosystem, no matter who you are or where you’re located, it’s important to remember that it’s a local ecosystem. It’s not Finland’s ecosystem nor Europe’s, Silicon Valley’s or Singapore’s ecosystem. It’s your own startup ecosystem.

Some universally scalable; non-culturally dependent parts can be adopted from our model, however, a large chunk has to come from within the country’s history, heritage, and the values of the people. After all, it’s the people, their culture, and attitude that gives the spark to light that burning entrepreneurial fire.

While we were building our startup ecosystem here, we were harnessing the already deeply rooted pay-it-forward culture and a tenacious will to change the forever-negative typical Finnish attitude towards failure.

To sum it up, learn from others what you can, find your core values and start building your startup ecosystem.

Kasper Suomalainen
Captain & COO, Startup Sauna