To each letter a word illustrating my explorations of a new territory and vocabulary.
Use it as a toolkit or a refreshing break while you are scouting Helsinki’s startup ecosystem!
Ask: I have learnt that the art of asking questions is essential in life. And for a newcomer to Helsinki’s startup scene, it is even more important. It is the only way to understand how the ecosystem works and discover hidden treasures. Just ask. Not only will you realise that people are happy to take the time to reply, but you will also be amazed by the unexpected diversity of their answers!
Branding: This one is obviously a keyword for marketing people, but it is actually highly recommended that you use it too and that the first thing you brand is yourself!
Catalyst: The Catalyst Program run by The Shortcut propelled me into the startup world, it is only fair to have it in this ABC.
Dare to: Yes, you can! Even if you are not fluent in Finnish, even if you are shy, even if the only definition of “python” you know refers to an animal, even if… whatever fear might tell you, just dare to go and explore and you will find something for you out there: from the gaming industry to AI, to health tech and every possible business between and beyond.
Experiment: Look for workshop and events in fields that you don’t know and try. What is it like to attend a networking event or a pitching competition? What if you finally materialized this business idea you have been planning for years? Maybe you are good at coding and you didn’t even know it?
Free: Helsinki’s startup ecosystems and co-working spaces are full of opportunities to learn for free the skills required to set up a new career in a startup — as is the internet. It can be a talk, a workshop, an online class, a peer-learning club. Choose UX design, digital marketing, coding, data analysis or a joyful mix of all of them. Once you start exploring, you will soon find your weeks don’t have enough days!
Game: Or rather, gaming industry. This is a world in itself. If you want to settle in this territory, you are preferably a gamer, but not necessarily. A musician or a community manager can happily live there, shaping realms of magic and power.
Hub: As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary online, a hub is the central or main part of something where there is most activity. Helsinki hosts more than one startup hub, no doubt you will find the right place where to grow your business with like-minded people.
Imagination: Use it, feed it, grow it, let it flourish. You will need it to land a job, to convince a client, to attract talent, to succeed when at first sight everything seems blocked.
KPI: Could mean Knowledgeable, Professional and Inventive, but actually does not. However, it is because you are knowledgeable, professional and inventive that you will reach your Key Performance Indicators.
Learn: Learn from others, learn with others, learn from your mistakes, learn from your achievements, learn new skills, keep learning all the time — including things that have nothing to do with your job — , that is what will keep your business healthy.
Motivation: I hope you have a lot of it because you will need it!
Networking: The best way to meet interesting people, discover other professional branches, let potential employees or employers know that you exist and that you have something good to offer, create fruitful synergies — and of course have a glass of champagne and fancy snacks such as salted fried crickets for free.
Observe: Observing before acting is often a wise strategy. Mingle with startup people, listen to the vocabulary they use, pay attention to the way they interact, identify what matters to them, determine what you are looking for in entering this specific business environment and what value you can bring.
Patience: Directly related to the previous one. All the preliminary work takes time and can be very frustrating, but very rewarding on a longer term.
Quest: If you have entered the startup world looking for a job, it is definitely a quest! But at least it is exciting and it teaches you a lot on the way. Story-teller or gamer, I bet you see what I mean…
Research: Yes, I know you have already heard it more than enough: “Do your research”. No matter how exasperating it might sound, it remains valid. Be prepared when you attend a networking event (people might actually be interested in what you do, so have a few ready-made sentences that put it nice and clear), when you apply for a job (obviously you want to know whom you will work for, not only get a salary) or when you recruit someone (yeah, read their cv and cover letter, they are full of information).
Startup: As someone I know would say, What’s a startup anyway? Please, Rob Edwards, do tell us the meaning of this intriguing word!
Track: Keep a track record of what you do, always. Even if you think it was just a small project or you just had a look to debug a code or you just created a visual for a friend or you just attended a workshop on pitching or you just proofread a blog post or you just put these two people in contact or you just… Whatever you just did, you actually did it and you can use it as an item for your portfolio. Which directly leads us to the next:
Use: Make good use of everything and everyone, but don’t abuse. Be respectful of other people’s time and energy — and of your own! As mentioned right above, any material you have produced, any event you have attended or any activity you have had is an opportunity to showcase your talent and should be considered as such.
Visual: A good visual is an excellent way to carry information efficiently. It is directly related to branding and startups’ communication is massively based on it. If it is not your cup of tea, go back to letter A and ask someone who knows better. Maybe there is something you can offer in exchange for a nice GIF.
Wonderful: Helsinki’s startup world is wonderful… wonderfully challenging, exciting, rich, empowering and some days also wonderfully daunting. Don’t get lost, put a compass, a Swiss army knife and a box of matches in your backpack. You will meet many nice people and good spirits on the way. Friendship will keep you safe.
X: Also known as data. Data is your almighty guide. It tells you where you have been a genius and where you miserably failed, it shows you the path, it is the alpha and omega of your business growth, it is your everything. But that should not prevent you from using your brain.
Yes: Of course, yes, go for it! Helsinki’s startup ecosystem has so much to offer that you have to go and unravel its mysteries by yourself. The adventure will give you way more than you can imagine…
Zone: “Step out of your comfort zone”, another classic. I am personally tired of reading it and hearing it everywhere, but it is still a valuable advice. However, I would phrase differently: if you note that you feel uncomfortable and clumsy trying something new, make the effort to stay a little longer, it is a sign that you are learning and doing it right. If you note that you feel uncomfortable because the situation is somehow creepy, just leave. Exploring new territories should be fun!
By Noemi Poget – August 02, 2019