Shifting to a new gear – this is the wake-up call for start-ups

Sami Kuusela
Sami Kuusela
Hoodie Dude, serial entrepreneur and a journalist
11 November 2015

It has finally happened! Hoodie Dude has landed its first forestry company client, as we have started collaboration with UPM.

Needless to say, we are very excited about this. Since 2013, we have been connecting large corporations with startup companies to collaborate with, invest in or acquire, and in the process we have helped many big ships change their course – at least a little. But we have never before worked with a forestry company.

When we started our operations in 2013, the situation in Finland was miserable. There was virtually no collaboration between large corporations and startups.

There were no domestic exits, i.e. significant acquisitions where a large Finnish corporation buys a Finnish startup. Collaborations between the startups and corporations were mainly fearful affairs where corporations were looking for subservient subcontractors and startups were only after money and distribution channels.

Last year, the situation started to change. Slush 2014 was attended by several large corporations who had realised the importance of startup companies. And why not? Startups had started to look increasingly interesting as partners and offer appealing opportunities for investment and acquisition. News of their success was reported on a weekly basis.

This new hope was encapsulated perfectly at the beginning of the year by OP Financial Group’s CEO Reijo Karhinen in Kauppalehti: “Nothing has changed my view of the world as much and as quickly as spending one day at Slush did.”

As long as different-sized companies focus only on their own operations, Finland will never be ahead of the game. Our economic recovery requires collaboration between startups, large corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and even micro-enterprises. This kind of comprehensive co-operation breaks boundaries and creates an environment where small and agile companies help large corporations by providing new ideas and energy, and large corporations in turn support small companies by using their strength, size and experience.

Large corporations are beginning to see the possibilities offered by startups, and startups are no longer afraid of large companies. First meetings have been organised, and the mutual shyness is beginning to recede.

What we now need is success stories. We need examples of lucrative collaboration that creates real economic value. This is not possible without resources and persistent commitment to new business associations.

Which is why we need to shift to a new gear. I promise you that the journey will be fun. This is UPM’s chance to make history.

 

Main image: Paula Savonen ja Sami Kuusela

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