18.05.2015

Recession vs. Depression – Part Two

Part Two – Anti-depressants

In the Kasvuryhmä (“The Growth Group” is a non-political, voluntary, entrepreneur-driven initiative/movement to incubate and ignite growth initiatives for the SME segment) curriculum of meetings and workshops, local business climate and general mood is of course the general context, but there is no whimpering. This group is a very good antidote against business-depression, which can be very toxic and is seemingly contagious. This group is all about learning from others, sharing experiences and studying success stories in search for commonalities and transferable capabilities.

The Kasvuryhmä has excellent intent and the potent core group has what it takes to make a difference. They seem to genuinely give a damn. After a couple of meetings, the early signs are positive. Tangible results are yet to be seen, but there is so much energy charged into this movement, something good just has to come out of it. If nothing else, new networks will form. And if momentum sustains the movement will build critical mass and eventually come up with the winning formula to re-ignite growth.

The usual suspect and an excellent anti-depressant is the start-up scene as whole. In the very beginning the only capital is a mixture of passion, perseverance, faith, innovation and resilience. Cash flows only if you make it beyond the point of convincement. A point which is not reached by many.

Even if the start-up scene in Finland has received a lot of (local) coverage, there are still very few examples of success stories which would have world-scale merits (like Supercell, ex-Nokia, ex-Rovio). Most keynote examples are born in the USA (Spark, Luna, AirBnB, PlanetLabs…) and surprisingly many also in our own neighborhood (Skype, Spotify, Klarna, Mojang, iZettle, Zound industries etc.). The Asian/Chinese start-up scene is reportedly super-hot, but not visible to the western markets, because the local market can absorb the growth almost completely and they haven’t had to migrate to elsewhere in the world.

An interesting listing (StartupRanking which is not based on market-cap but based on web importance and social influence) suggests that Finland (144 listed start-ups) precedes Sweden (106) after all. The top end of the ranking list is largely stars and stripes with the occasional exception of some maybe surprising appearances from France, Hungary, Italy, Israel, Australia and Latvia, even Guatemala.

Comparing start-ups with more established businesses is not entirely fair, the premises are too different. On the other hand, established businesses are deploying start-upism as an inside model. Corporate giants are hiring start-up gurus to develop intra-company startups as seeds of growth. This is an excellent trend and even if formal success never appears, there is a very healthy intangible benefit which might be achieved – the import of desired behavioral transformation which comes from a different mindset.

By means of start-upism, there are some inherent characteristics that can be transferred to mutate a stagnating or struggling business into a flourishing one: 1) Attitude 2) Entrepreneurism 3) Accepting failure 4) Risk-taking.

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Mika Tanner

Bilot Alumni