Finnish startup scene
Entrepreneurship itself in Finland is quite an old phenomenon. However, as everywhere else, the first startups appeared in the early 1990s and some faced demise with the end of dot-com bubble in early 2000.
The early days
Prior to 1995, one of the key influencers was the Finnish demo scene which gathered together people interested in burgeoning technology. Many companies like Hybrid Graphics, Riot-E as well as others have their roots in the demo scene.
The dot-com bubble
The dot-com bubble in the USA lasted between 1995-2000. The bubble has had a major impact on the Finnish start-up ecosystem. One of the most well-known dot-com companies, together with Riot-E, was IObox. IObox Oy was a Finnish mobile and web portal operator. Formed in 1999, the dot-com company became part of Telefónica Mobile. At a sale price of $250m (€230m) in 2000, IObox was the largest venture capital exit in Finland. It wasn't surpassed until the sale of MySQL AB in 2008 for $1bn (€670m).
MySQL was another start-up that was built in the middle of the dot-com bubble. The company was founded in 1995 and the first version of MySQL was released in 1996.
Life after dot-com
The period starting in 2003 and ending, roughly, around 2006 was a post-dot-com recovery time for the Finnish start-up ecosystem. One of the key players in the ecosystem at the time was Sulake, which was founded in 2001, but had its most important actions take place after registering as Sulake Corporation in 2003.
Aula movement was one of the key events in 2006 gathering people from different backgrounds to talk about social software. This software community was the beginning of companies like Jaiku (later acquired by Google) and Dopplr (later acquired by Nokia).
This period is characterized by the rise of a grassroots student movement initiated by Aaltoes, the emergence of a new wave of start-up entrepreneurs as well as creation of ArcticStartup, a local media 100% dedicated to covering the start-up scene in the Nordic and Baltic region.
Aaltoes, or Aalto Entrepreneurship Society, was founded in 2009 by a disciplinary group of students from the three founding schools of Aalto University. Currently, Aaltoes remains student-run and a non-profit, while maintaining the largest startup community in Finland.
As in Silicon Valley most startups in Finland are IT related. Recently, however, companies developing physical end-products has risen. Notable examples include Jalo Helsinki and Uploud Audio. Former producing fire alarms while the latter producing nice looking loudspeakers.
Since its launch in January 2013, Finnish startups have been tracked and ranked by Startup100.net. The site tracks over 600 Finland-based startups and publishes a monthly chart of the companies, based on their online visibility.
In 2009 Finland was second largest investor in early stage startups in Europe measured in venture capital as a percentage of GDP.
- Hybrid Graphics
- Dot-com bubble
- Web portal
- MySQL AB
- Jalo Helsinki - STRAIGHTFORWARD – NEW FINNISH DESIGN
- Aaltoes.com – Uploud Audio
- Eduskuntaan startup-tiimi | TEK (Finnish) Google translation (English)