Making connections

What are the building blocks of success for early-stage teams on their journey to become a startup?

Yes, you need to have an idea for a great product or service solving a problem or filling a customer need, and people with the right competences and passion to pull off the hard work to make it happen. But to actually make it to the market, you also need the right networks - connections to potential customers, piloting partners, investors, and peers and mentors from whose experiences you can learn from. Providing these connections is one of the things the Germinator programme offers to its participants.  

Last week, Viikki Food Design Factory took this season’s Germinator pre-incubation programme teams to Seinäjoki for a double dose of networking opportunities and feedback for two sunny September days.

The teams visited a Germinator sponsor-mentor company Foodwest to get to know the possibilities they offer for food related startup companies - to test and pilot their ideas in practice, food product development and production facilities, and consumer insight studies. The teams also received a tour of the facilities and valuable one-to-one mentoring and feedback on their specific cases.  

“It was very useful to discuss with the Foodwest RnD team, now we know better what our next steps could be”, says Laura Juhola from the Acornia Greentech team.  

Development Director Kaisa Penttilä from Foodwest was also happy to host the visit. "We have truly enjoyed the inspirational and innovative discussions we had with the Germinator teams. Many kinds of different forms of possible future co-operation have been found and we look forward continuing the discussions”, she says.

During the trip the teams also gained valuable pitching experience and networking opportunities at the InnoFood – International Food Innovation Days.  

“From the questions by the pitching panel, I understood that we need to clarify what it is that we would actually be ‘selling’, especially in a way that people without the same technical background can understand”, says Surendra Pradhan, pitcher of the Resource Pulling team and a researcher at the University of Helsinki.  

“It was my first time pitching MyShroom - it was a great experience and we’ve already updated the pitch deck based on the feedback”, says Jussi Hildén from the MyShroom team.  

The Germinator teams also appreciated the tips from more experienced startuppers, “I was especially inspired by Nima Sophie Tisdall’s talk about the Blue Lobster origin story and learnings from that”, says Ville Karinen from the Kitsain team.  

Sara Ahlberg from the Nuts about Nuts team said she was “especially excited to see more focus on new diets brought up to date in the Nordics - it would be interesting to see in the future how these are implemented in practice into easily available consumer products”.  

It was two days of tightly packed food innovation agenda and networking for the Germinator teams, and many insights for them to put into practice on their journey forward.  

The next networking opportunities for the teams this autumn will be at the NORDEEP Nordic Deep Tech Business Summit in October 11-12, and at the highlight of the Germinator autumn programme, the Food Systems pitching competition at the Slush side event Y Science on November 31. Interested in making connections? Meet you there.