We made three trips around Europe during August – one to Copenhagen and Amsterdam, one to Berlin and Munich, and one to Zürich and Paris. We traveled in small groups with the purpose to learn, get inspiration and experiences from local companies and entities – from VCs to student-led entrepreneurship societies.
Student-run entrepreneurial entities
We were excited to visit and meet other student-run entrepreneurial entities like DutchSE, Start Berlin, ETH entrepreneur club, and START Global at St. Gallen. During those meetings, we talked about what each organization does, the differences in student entrepreneurship and culture, how Corona has affected our activities and got to know each other.
Because we are keen on making our office Startup Sauna even better for the projects and our community, it was interesting to see different co-working spaces and offices. In Copenhagen, we visited Station – an old police station renovated to be a house for student innovation. Together we got an idea to connect our kitchen with theirs with a camera to meet casually through the screen.
We also visited Martikel1, which is the leading startup community in Copenhagen. They offer spaces for startups and investors, for example, and they focus on the interaction between the people working there. During the visit to Matrikel1 and Munich Urban Colab, we learned that it is reasonable to gather different organizations: student-run initiatives, VCs, and corporate partners under the same roof to ease the collaboration. The world's biggest startup campus, Station F, makes the space as transparent as possible for the residents nearby, so everyone knows what happens inside and feels welcome.
At our visit to B. Amsterdam, it was positive to see how they have office spaces that can be modified for the company's needs, so every area looks different. Factory Berlin offers opportunities for different types of purposes as well: co-working, events, creative work, and relaxing. The people's passion for working there can be seen from the facilities, and we learned about the importance of the community and building a network.
Startups and companies
In addition to these visits, we visited companies and their offices to hear and learn more about the local entrepreneurship and startup cultures. From GoMore, we learned about the growing company and the car-sharing business, and that in Denmark, it is usual that the people at the office eat lunch together every day to spend time together. We learned that branding isn’t only crucial in marketing, but it needs to show in every product during our visit to the Muuto head office.
During our trip to Berlin, we visited Collective Crunch. We talked about how data can be utilized to create solutions in many different use cases. We also visited the Wolt office and were happy to see how Wolt has expanded to Berlin with such incredible speed. The work of Wolt's founders can be seen in the streets of both Berlin and Munich.
We visited Hintsa Performance and heard about the wellness industry and working culture in Switzerland, as well as how our mindset and daily lifestyle affect our life. One of our key takeaways was that wellbeing isn’t black and white, and the reasons for different symptoms can actually be found in very unexpected places.
Starting your own company
From our exciting conversation at Silicon Allee, we learned that if you want to invest yourself into making a startup, you need to be willing to put 5-10 years of work into it. People at 3DExperienceLab emphasized how the timing of new innovation is essential, and it is one of the main things with the success of a startup.
During our visit to Marcau VC, we got to know the fundamentals of VC funds. We realized that Finnish and Swiss VC ecosystems are very similar, with the same issues, and that Finland is in the scope of European investors as well. We visited SOSV VC and talked about ways to come up with new ideas and got to know that one of the most critical skills as a founder is to be able to persuade people into doing things, may it be investors, co-founders, or clients.
There are many differences and similarities in the worldwide startup scene. We had a warm welcome at every visit, and during those, we heard openly about the great and complex parts of different fields and working. The trips were full of learnings and unforgettable memories, and by talking to local people from different cultures about these topics, we gained new perspectives.
Some of us felt that they gained a lot of understanding not just about the ecosystem they were visiting – but also about themselves, their interests and what they could want from their future.