Highlights of Kiuas Accelator 2018

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2018-09-13 Aaro Isosaari

                                                   

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Kiuas Accelerator is a 10-week intensive program designed to take early-stage startups to the next level. In 2018, Kiuas Accelerator (prev. Summer of Startups) is organized for the 9th year in a row, supporting teams in various areas of their businesses. Read more about the program here . Espoo Innovation Garden has been Main Partner for Kiuas Accelerator for several years.

The 10-week Kiuas Accelerator is now finished and it’s time to reflect on some of the highlights from of the program as well as the feedback we received from this year’s participants.

After the successful establishment of the Kiuas concept in 2017 and running the summer accelerator under the new brand for the first time, eyes were set to make this year the best one yet. Preparation for the program began already in January by developing the concept, setting up partnerships and kicking off marketing.

The application period resulted in over 100 applications and eventually 15 chosen teams — both exceeding the numbers from previous years. Check out the article written by Kauppalehti.

Program-wise, the focus was on three key areas:

  • Striving to find the startups’ needs and pain points, and structuring the program and themes according to those.
  • Going more hands-on with the workshops and throwing in more 1-on-1s for individualized support.
  • Getting all teams under one roof on a regular basis to showcase achievements and discuss obstacles faced in the business.

With the support of the program and the contacts that the startups have built during the program, we’ve been able to witness some pretty notable milestones (some of them highlighted below) reached during Kiuas Accelerator.

Finishing an MVP

Acquiring first customer(s)

Getting advisor(s) onboard

Securing initial funding

Summary

We collected a bunch of feedback and data from the participants after the accelerator ended to help future organizers build better programs in the upcoming years.

What our startups especially liked about Kiuas Accelerator this year:

Founders Talks

For each Monday morning, we invited seasoned entrepreneurs to share their uncensored stories and learnings with the startups. Speakers included for example Kristo Ovaska, Maija Itkonen and Ilkka Paananen.

“Excellent speakers. I think these were the most valuable part of the program”

Weeklies

Getting all the teams under one roof at the start of each week to present the learnings from the previous week, as well as announce goals for the next one.

1-on-1s

Mentoring sessions on various topics with entrepreneurs, investors and industry professionals. We ended up facilitating over 7000 minutes of these throughout the program.

“Definitely the best bang for buck in terms for time invested and things learned”

Demo Day

600+ people including entrepreneurs, investors, media and other professionals gathered at Tennispalatsi to witness the results of the program on August 31st.

"One of the best moments in summer"

Some of the highlights from the feedback:

“I’ve gone through three accelerator programs, and Kiuas was by far the best organized, toughest and most rewarding”

“Expectations were met and over-exceeded”

“The best ever community a founder can have”

“I’m absolutely astonished that you were able to deliver all of this during the summer”

“When they say “From idea to first revenue”, it is not just a marketing slogan. They really mean it”

“We really felt that you guys were backing us every step on the way”

“Wish there were more accelerators like this”

Seems like something was done right, as our participants also gave the program an average rating of 9,73 on a scale of 1 to 10. Of course, constructive feedback was received as well, and that will be used to make Kiuas Accelerator 2019 even better - the best one yet.

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Aaro Isosaari

Co-Director, Kiuas Accelerator 2018