Week 2 of Startup Sauna from Martins Vaivars, co-founder of Toneboard

May 18, 2016

Hard to believe that it has already been two weeks since Toneboard (Vladimirs and myself) arrived at Helsinki to take part in Startup Sauna accelerator program as part of the Spring 2016 batch! It has been a time of intense learning, sleep deprivation and meeting a lot of new people.

It was impossible not to feel humility in the first days of the accelerator after seeing the ambition level and traction of other participant teams. To get a feel of the range of things people are working on, just take a look at AirVisionPalleter or Noiseless Acoustics. Through common participation in different activities, we are all slowly becoming good friends. I am sure that we will keep in touch and help each other even after the accelerator is finished.

Panu, Kasper and Karolina have prepared an intense schedule for us. It is packed with workshops, pitch training, visits to the offices of successful startups, lectures, social events and one-on-one meetings with Startup Sauna mentors.

Meetings with mentors have so far been especially impactful. I usually do not get personal, focused conversations with founders of highly successful startups like Leadfeeder or Flowdock. Mentors also include people who hold executive positions in world-class companies like Microsoft, SAP or Rovio. They have already made several useful introductions and helped with refining our value proposition and go-to-market strategy.

At our own startup Toneboard, we are trying to solve the problem of financial inclusion. There are more than 2 billion people worldwide without access to formal financial services due to lack of reliable credit history or proof of income. At Toneboard, we believe that automatic speech analytics can provide the critical data necessary for lenders to serve these customers well. Startup Sauna has already helped us with making good progress towards achieving our goals.

Finland, of course, is also the birthplace of Tupla, a wonderful brand of chocolate that my co-founder Vladimirs is obsessed with. Living and working together with him 24/7 has given me the opportunity to observe his Tupla eating habits when he is sleep deprived: