On the 26 of February at the University's Technopark, with the support of the university business incubator, there was a meeting of Russian teams and the experts from Startup Sauna, the largest Finnish start-up accelerator.
Eleven teams presented their IT-projects to the experts from Startup Sauna. No more than three minutes were given to startupers to tell about their products and to answer questions from the audience. Among the experts evaluating the presentation, there were Finnish experts as well as their Russian counterparts: they had to evaluate the potential of each project and select the most promising.
"The projects are very different: there were classic IT ones, and things with a big "hardware" part. The guys are interesting, but they are very different in terms of their level; from those who just start their way, to those who understand their business model, know the market and maybe have already outgrown the Startup Sauna format. We are looking for an optimum variant: a team must have the basic knowledge, understanding of the problem, the attractiveness of the product to the consumer, potential customers and at the same time, a hypothesis that can be tested during the program," Gleb Strus says, one of the experts, the analyst in the iDealMachine start-up accelerator.
The projects, which were presented in Startup Sauna, have very different directions: a search for guides and interpreters in China, business promotion in Instagram, creation of 3D-camera, parental control software, service for the gifts selection and much more.
"The idea of 3D-camera was born a long time ago: devices like Oculus Rift appeared, as well as the opportunity to be in the center of events. We are engaged in scientific research, but we are trying to monetize the things we do. Now, for example, we are negotiating with the Mariinsky Theatre and we are making the first prototypes for them," Denis Stolyarov says, one of the 3D-camera developers, the chief engineer of the ITMO University's Center for Design & Multimedia.
Experts selected six teams, who now have the chance to participate in the Startup Sauna program in Helsinki in May this year. To participate in the upcoming meeting, 15 start-up projects will be selected from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Russia. They will get business contacts, investors and, therefore, the opportunity to go to a new level.
The participants from the selected teams were able to personally share their concerns and expectations with experts about whether they are going in the right direction, what is needed to be improved and how to move in a market where competition is high. For Russian entrepreneurs, Startup Sauna is the opportunity to reach an international level; Finnish experts come to Russia in search of fresh ideas and young talents. Andrey Sergeev, the deputy director of the ITMO University's Business Incubator, believes that the Finnish colleagues are very interested in cooperation with Russian IT-projects:
"Because of the size of the country, the Finnish system can not exist detached: the market is small, there are no enough startups, the business rests largely on personal contacts.Therefore Finland is aimed at the global market."
The team of the ITMO University's Business Incubator has accumulated an impressive experience in the development of IT-projects of young developers. Organizers note that they don't have a rigorous selection, they are happy to see talented teams from across the country, if they have something to say. Also, it is possible to try to participate in their own SUMIT acceleration program.