Storyteller that is Villu, made me loose track of time, when the phone buzzed reminding me that I need to head to Garage48 HUB for their Saturday’s Tech Fair + Waffles. It was a real cool showcase of tech startups surrounded with amazing startup enthusiasm and energy. With my next guest we agreed on meeting at the HUB since I was fully booked and wasn’t able to visit their premises, but next time I will check them out for sure.
She’s a Startup Incubator Program and Community Manager at (as she says) the biggest tech incubator in the Baltics – Tehnopol. When and why Triin Mahlakõiv joined the startup community and what is the incubator offering?
“Before 2009 I didn’t even know about what a startup is. It all started when I joined an early stage startup that was developing a mobile application as a service for kindergartens. Coming from a traditional background, being independent in the startup eco-system is very challenging and important, but you always know that you can rely on the community here, that is very supportive. With Tehnopol‘s incubation program we support 30 startups from different countries, for 1 year. We invest up to 10 000€ worth of expertise to start-up companies in one year to find the first seed investment or reach export markets. Our main focus areas are ICT, green- and health technologies. Because we are very well connected, when there is a lack of investment in the Estonian market, we send those startups to Finland for this kind of support. When a startup is selected for the incubation period we help them with determining a scalable business model; build sales, marketing and PR strategy; develop investor readiness and find investments; reach out to significant contact network. Anyone interested in joining our incubator can apply but remember that we are looking for a scalable and technology based business idea, motivated team and ambition to create a successful business.” – says Triin.
I was interested to find out her opinion about does every startup need to go through some kind of incubation or acceleration program, is that necessary? And of course, from her experience so far, what would be her advice for the young entrepreneurs and early stage startups?
“Startups do not need to go to an incubator/accelerator, but I would highly recommend it. For example we are dealing with high tech startups. Some, or many of the startup founders do not have business background. These programs will get them going faster, help them avoid some of the mistakes on their journey. Our program is very practical and hands on, where everything and everyone is focused on your business. In this way you will also be part of the community which will bring you additional incentives. One of the coolest programs in my opinion is Startup Chile with whom we collaborate and we advise people to try out that experience as well. Whenever I travel, I try to learn more about the startup community in that city, just like you do. So my advise would be, to try to go international with your business as soon as you see an opportunity. Just don’t overthink, just do it. Why limit yourself and operate your business only in your country. Do a research and see where you are needed. It doesn’t always have to mean that you will be successful if you expand to the US or Western Europe etc… Maybe emerging markets are where your product and/or service is needed. Now more than ever, we are connected and the possibilities for doing business internationally are limitless” – adds Triin.
She’s also very good at networking, as she introduced me to my next #StartUpSelfie guest, that soon will be featured here. It was my pleasure meeting Triin and discussing about different topics, finding many similarities in our professional journey and promising that we will stay in touch. Surely we will have the opportunity to meet again and as I said I will head directly to Tehnopol next time I’m in Tallin.
Calling all tech startups to go and check out their program and apply and wishing them lot’s of success.
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