Five pieces of advice for first-time founders from New Nordic Leads Mentors

January 21, 2021

We believe that good mentorship unlocks startups' potential. In the first batch of New Nordic Leads training altogether 30 mentors - experts in their fields or founders themselves - help the founders to achieve their goals with their knowledge and network. We asked five of them what is the one piece of advice that they would give to first-time founders on improving startups’ investment readiness.

Erik Raudsepp (EstBAN): Make sure your customers love your product. Build a mentoring network on your own – reach out to BAN members, invite them for a coffee or a chat and ask for their feedback and advice. You are doing it for the first time, but there are a lot of people who have done it before and are happy to help. Don’t leave it to the last moment.

Akim Arhipov (EstBAN): The most important thing is your people. Hire slow. Identify the business goals and create transparent processes – people will appreciate working with high emotional & intellectual caliber teammates who value their time. The rest is systematic steps towards the goal.

Tomáš Novotný (FiBAN): At FiBAN we often see a disconnect between what first-time founders consider the most important about their startups and what matters to the investors. So I would say bridging this gap could be one of the key pieces of advice. Perhaps either by developing an understanding of how investors work or getting someone who has seen fundraising before to provide insights.

Esa Kinnunen (FiBAN): Entrepreneurs typically present their company from their own point of view, which in itself is very understandable. If you want investors to invest in your startup, then the company and its actual business must be presented from the investor’s point of view i.e., what the company actually does in simple terms, how it will realistically develop over the years and how its value will rise in the market. 

Shamma Raghib: Get ready to be uncomfortable for a long time. This is a long term investment so you should always have a “go get it done” attitude – try building a culture of your company from the beginning this is very important to retain your employees.

“Seeing the drive, the ambition, and that moving-fast attitude is wonderful”

What are our mentors’ experiences from New Nordic Leads so far?

“Seeing the drive, the ambition, and that moving-fast attitude is wonderful. And as a first-time founder, I have gotten a lot of help and advice from many people over the years myself, so I am happy about the opportunity to share those and our learnings and mistakes through the program, ” says one of the mentors Tomáš Novotný, Chairman at 720 Degrees.

For Erik Raudsepp, Head of Product at Pactum, who is based in the US, organizing such events in Zoom has been inclusive as it gave to him a chance to participate in Estonian-Finnish cross-border program.

Akim Arhipov, founder & CEO of BASIS ID and partner at VNTRS, tells that he has learned from this experience, that the most important is to identify high intelligence, high energy, and high integrity founders.

Esa Kinnunen, founder & CEO at Esa Investment, finds that the New Nordic Leads program has been very interesting. He gained access to three different startups, all of which are mutually different fields and in different stages of development. Esa says that the entrepreneurs have learned a lot in the given training sessions, as well as applied the lessons in an exemplary way in the development of their own companies and in their investor pitches

Personally I have learnt that every startup and its founders are different and hence the mentoring approach almost always needs to be customized, adds Shamma Raghib, SaaS Transformation Manager at Collibra and Founder at Girls Get Funded.

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Johanna Ahtiainen
Training and Development Manager, FiBAN
johanna.ahtiainen@fiban.org