A startup perspective: Accelerators and co-working spaces

Our startup’s story began one evening in a small student apartment in Matinkylä. Taru, my friend and future co-founder, had invited me over to discuss a business idea. A glass of wine, a short discussion and four hours later we finally got through all the required online forms to incorporate our business. Four months and two new co-founders later Lääkärihinta.fi i.e. “doctorprice” was launched to help consumers compare private healthcare prices.

As all four of us were first time entrepreneurs, we applied to Summer of Startups (SoS), today known as Kiuas, with the goal of networking and learning from the active startup community in Otaniemi. The best part of the program was the great advice and feedback from 1-on-1 coaching sessions with several experienced serial entrepreneurs and investors. The additional €5000 program grant was very welcome and helped us work through the summer.

SoS
Wednesday barbeques at Startup Sauna were the social highlight of the week. The program not only helped us develop our business, but only made us a lot of friends. 

Right after a spectacular Demo Day at the end of the SoS program, we were suggested to apply to Vertical Accelerator, which was only a few hundred meters away from Startup Sauna where SoS was held. And apply we did. Vertical is a four-month acceleration program for health and wellness startups offering free co-working space and a tight program schedule with partners, mentors and lectures. Vertical helps startups grow their business through mentoring and partnerships with corporations. For us, the best part of the program was once again the Wednesday afternoon sessions with mentors and experts from different industries, including marketing, go to market, medicine and financing.

As a startup founder in the early days, you often have to execute on several fields at once. For example, before the company can hire its first employees, a founder’s tasks can include a complex combination of sales, marketing and fundraising. Thus, getting support and feedback from different industry experts in both accelerator programs has been extremely beneficial.

Vertical
Vertical F16 Graduation Party! Hurrah! After two accelerator programs we have learned much, acquired new skills and feel we are well networked with key stakeholders in the startup ecosystem.

After the Vertical program, it was only natural to try and beat the length of our last office move from SoS to Vertical. With that in mind, we are currently located at the co-working space of Innovation House Finland, which is located just two floors above Vertical. The space has been newly renovated and there’s even an Augmented Climbing Wall for those moments when you need a small break from work (or an excuse from work through exhaustion of your forearm muscles).

IHF2
Innovation House Finland has transformed an old library into an inspiring co-working space for startups!

For startups, there are a lot of opportunities to choose from. Though the existence of a supportive ecosystem is fantastic, it is important to have clear goals in mind. Applying just for the sake of getting into a program can also be a waste of precious time. Make sure the program is a good fit for your business and can help you achieve your dreams. That’s why we started as entrepreneurs in the first place, right?

Now is the time to execute on everything we have learned. Our next plans include validating our business in Finland through revenue growth and finishing core product features including online booking and customer reviews. My dream is to launch service outside of Finland and give patients better means to choose their healthcare services based on transparent data.

 

Alec Hellström

Growth, co-founder of Lääkärihinta.fi

Alec Hellström is a medical student and startup entrepreneur. The possibility of learning new skills in a fast pace is what he loves about entrepreneurship. Alec is also involved in medical research and interested in the possibilities of technology in healthcare. 

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