Personal mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs and investors, a grant worth several thousand euros, support from the community and a roof over their heads – Summer of Startups enables early-stage growth companies a summer of a lifetime. 14 teams were selected out of 101 top-level applicants for the popular programme realised for the seventh time this year.
'The nine-week accelerator programme offers startups an opportunity to get their business going as fast as possible', says Jesse Miettinen, vice chair of Aalto Entrepreneurship Society, i.e. Aaltoes. Aaltoes is a community promoting entrepreneurship founded by Aalto students.
FactoryFinder reigned supreme in pitching competition
At the beginning of August, Summer of Startups culminated with the Demo Day event, which gathered over 400 people to witness a pitching competition in Otaniemi. FactoryFinder, a company established by four young men which helps small and medium-sized apparel brands find responsible producers in Vietnam, was chosen as the winner of the competition. A desire to influence the development of responsible industrial manufacturing underlies the idea for the company.
'In the future, new free trade agreements between the USA, EU and Vietnam will further enhance the competitiveness of products manufactured in Vietnam. Nevertheless, we do not wish for Vietnam to end up on the same path as its neighbouring country, China, which is struggling with air pollution issues caused by its massive industry. We aim to use our own actions to influence the direction that manufacturing will take and thus only support factories that act responsibly', explains Jesse Tran, CEO of FactoryFinder and a Master's Degree student at Aalto University.
The company aims to establish a platform allowing textile companies to directly trade with manufacturers. Manufacturers must comply with the Business Social Compliance Initiative standards in order to gain access to the FactoryFinder network. A separate six-person team located in Vietnam is responsible for managing relationships with manufacturing plants as well as quality control.
FactoryFinder's founders Kien Bui, Niklas Siven, Jesse Tran and Mikael Uusivuori.
Convinced by rapid growth potential
FactoryFinder, which was established at the beginning of this year, convinced the Summer of Startups jury with its rapid acquisition of revenue. 'The judges believed in the scalability of our company and thought that we had most potential for rapid international growth', says Mikael Uusivuori, the company's COO, on the reasons behind the company's victory. 'We started acquiring customers in May and so far have attracted over 20 brands from Finland, Sweden, New York and Los Angeles.'
FactoryFinder has also been a client of Aalto University's very own Startup Center business incubator since April. 'We have been extremely satisfied: we have always gotten support when needed when it comes to matters such as a Tekes application and budgetary calculations, recommendations to different accelerators as well as general advice related to running a startup', Uusivuori explains.
Summer of Startups will also be organised next year.
'All startups at the brainstorming or beginning stage established by students or new graduates are welcome to apply', Miettinen encourages. 'Will you get a summer job or start a company of your own instead?'