Nordic ScaleUp Academy, the newly launched scaleup accelerator successfully kicked on the 25th and 26th of August.
At the end of a busy application process earlier in the summer, 10 ambitious scaleups from Finland and Sweden were finally selected to participate. The criteria for applying for the program was a minimum of €2m euros in annual turnover, 10 employees, HQ in Nordics and a scalable business model. This is the list of scaleups:
- Haltian (FIN) – a global IoT and product development company
- Learnifier (SWE) – a multi-featured tool that makes it easy to create online courses, onboarding programs or even a learning academy
- One Click LCA (FIN) – automated life cycle assessment software that helps to calculate and reduce the environmental impacts buildings
- Optomed (FIN) – a healthcare technology company that provides handheld fundus cameras and software solutions
- Pharem biotech (SWE) – solutions for water treatment and biotechnology
- QuietOn (FIN) – an earplug that combines active noise cancellation and acoustic noise attenuation to create silence
- Solnet (FIN) – Smart Solar solutions for B2B customers
- Symcel (SWE) – an assay tool for real time cellular bioenergetic measurements
- VideoVisit (FIN) – a health technology company developing digital solutions to outpatient care
- Vidilab (SWE) – veterinary laboratory with a focus on draft test diagnostics
According to Pelle Tornell, the Nordic ScaleUp Academy head coach, “it is a group of really exciting companies from both Finland and Sweden. Several of them have the potential to scale 10x from an already established leading market position. That is very ambitious and quite rare but in these cases it seems realistic.”
The scaleup accelerator is based on the renowned ScalingUp methodology, originally birthed by Verne Harnish at MIT and further developed in practice by Harnish and hundreds of entrepreneurs and business professionals along the way. MIT invited Harnish to teach this methodology in their executive education program. Tornell met Harnish and was convinced this could be applied to the companies he was working with. In the last 6 years, over 60 Nordic companies have used this methodology to scale their businesses.
Coaching, mentorship and international networking
Throughout the next 12 months, the selected companies’ leadership teams will undergo intensive self-examination and workshops of their company within the framework of the scaling up model which focuses on 4 critical areas: people, strategy, execution and cash. By participating in the workshops as a group, companies will have the opportunity to learn from each other. It’s all about giving companies the tools they need to succeed and scale through their journey.
In addition, each company is paired with a highly qualified and experienced mentor who has overcome some of the specific growth challenges which they may be facing. The company and mentor will work one-on-one during the mentoring sessions.
The scaleups are also offered the opportunity to collaborate with Nordic Innovation House’s regional hubs – in Silicon Valley, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo – to get connected with key stakeholders in international markets.
Reflections on the kickoff event
There was no wasted time during the kickoff event. After a short hour of introductions in the morning the participants went directly to the heart of the issue – purpose. This is what defines the direction and allows for the company to dream big in pursuit of their major targets – essentially moonshot thinking and setting specific targets in alignment with the purpose.
“Setting an authentic purpose together with moonshot thinking unleashes both energy and creativity on a whole new level. It also attracts the best and the brightest people who want to work on big challenges or climb the highest mountains,” remarks Tornell.
Companies will continue fine-tuning these aspects of their business for the next months.
“We will focus on our core values and purpose to integrate and build the right culture in the company. We’re hoping to grow very fast – if they’re not set right in the start then that can become a problem,” shares Martin Ryen, CEO of Pharem Biotech.
The first phase of the program is focused on strategy. In the first two days, every rock is turned to get a true inventory of where each company is on the strategic side – why, how, what and for who? During the year, companies will work on defining and fine tuning the strategy.
“It was very useful to revisit all the building blocks again as a management team. It advanced our connectedness between different aspects of the business which have grown over time,” observes Christian Ryen, COO of Pharem Biotech. “There was much focus on ‘how’ we should think as a company.”
A strong feature of the Scaling Up methodology is how the theory translates in practice – this means that teams are never separated from their business. On the contrary, after every coaching session, the participants convene and address the topics within their teams. This allows the companies to put the coaching directly into practice.
“The theory is quite self-evident. But when you get to be active, thinking through everything as a team you get results. We’re setting high enough goals and really pushing it; getting the goosebumps. It really works,” reflects Janne Kyllönen, CPO of QuietOn.
Next month the scaleups will reconvene again to build out their Quarterly plan before diving into Recruiting & talent assessment in October.
Over the past decades there has been a healthy growth and development of the startup ecosystem in the Nordics. Startups are getting off the ground with more frequency, however scaling up is still a great obstacle and companies in this stage find themselves with less support. The purpose of the Nordic ScaleUp Academy is to provide the tools and support to increase the amount of successful scaleups in the Nordics.
Nordic ScaleUp Academy is a joint effort by the Swedish DI Scaleup, Finnish Verona Growth, Maria 01, & Startup Foundation and the Norwegian ScaleUp XQ. The program is part of the Nordic Innovation’s Nordic Scalers initiative. The Nordic ScaleUp Academy coaches are Pelle Tornell and Jannes Dahlgren. The 2021 version of the program will take place entirely virtually.
DI Scaleup: We are an initiative from Sweden’s largest financial newspaper to contribute to the flourishing of midsize growth companies.
Verona Growth: We discover new businesses and renew existing ones by helping you to work with and like startups.
Maria 01: We are the Nordics’ leading startup campus, bringing together tech startups, venture capitalists, corporates and ecosystem supporters under one roof.
Startup Foundation: We support entrepreneurship and the creation, growth, and internationalization of startups in the Nordics.
ScaleUp XQ: We strengthen international tech companies ripe for commercial scaling and growth.
Nordic Innovation House: We are a community platform accelerating high-quality Nordic tech startups, scaleups and growth companies. Via our strong community and network, we connect Nordic companies into the right ecosystem stakeholders.
Written by Verneri Välimaa
LinkedIn, Twitter: @VerneriValimaa