Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2013 - Page 11

D uring his visit, Blank found a whole lot of smart, passionate entrepreneurs in Helsinki who are serious about building a start-up hub in the pocket-size metropolis. “The biggest strength of Finland is the tremendous enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs,” he says. “I met a lot of very smart, talented, creative people – in fact, some of the finest start-up entrepreneurs in the world are to be found in Finland.” The Customer Development Manifesto by Steve Blank What is a start-up? A start-up is a temporary organisation designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. Here’s how you do it: Despite the Best of Intentions One of the challenges they face, Blank says, comes from the Finnish government, which is trying to help, but gets in the way. “We have a situation here, where government bureaucrats – who couldn’t run a lemonade stand in the real world – make investments on companies, trying to pick winners with absolutely no competence.” Blank points out that it is hard enough to pick which existing companies with known business models you’re supposed to aid. Yet Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, does that – and is trying to act like a government-run Venture Capital firm, directing considerable funds to the chosen ones. “Tekes is the elephant in the room no one is talking about,” he says. Product of the Environment According to Blank, Tekes has ended up competing with – and pretty much stifling – the nascent Finnish VC industry, indiscriminately handing out checks to entrepreneurs as an entitlement. (Blank acknowledges that Tekes is very much a product of its environment: the government plays a similar role in all aspects of Finnish life.) “Trying to create a successful startup ecosystem with this type of policy is of no use. This government experiment where you try to build from top down is failing,” Blank says. Blank is convinced that Tekes lacks a long-term plan of what the Finnish government’s role should be in funding start-ups. Blank’s suggestion is simple enough: the government might want to consider putting themselves out of the public funding business by using public capital to kick-start private venture capital firms, incubators and accelerators. This transition should be carried out in five to ten years, Blank believes. Wanted: A Fighting Chance Blank sees great potential