Our Turku Meetup Was A Complete Failure?
No. Not quite. But it was close.
Juho from Boost Turku had arranged the most outrageous of locations. Slap bang in the middle of the main pedestrian street in the center of Turku. It was the most visible place you could possibly find, with loads of people walking by asking us about the project and the magnificent sauna. Perfect for some entrepreneurial activity and getting interest in your company. So of course everyone wanted to be there showing off their wares, right?
Like hell. Of the people that had signed up, we got a grand total of 0 showing up. To say I'm shocked would be like saying Russian prison sentences suck — a bit of an understatement. After the brilliant success we had in Tampere and Toijala, that was really a stunning and depressing thing to happen. To stand in the rain, eager to go, and for nobody to appear.
So we popped into the cold sauna to, well, lie down. That was really the point when exhaustion began to catch up. After ten minutes, I could have fallen asleep, but that age old entrepreneurial twang got me to raise my head. We can't go out like this. We brought the sauna here, we want to get people interested in entrepreneurship. So by god we will fire the sauna up and do what we can to make a story.
Mike huffed and sighed — just moments earlier we had half agreed that there would not be much point just the two of us sitting in the sauna — but he started to kindle a flame.
And you know, there is something magical about the Finnish sauna. With the first puffs of smoke we started to get entrepreneurs showing up. One was in construction, another in imports, and yet another had even appeared on the Finnish version of Dragon's Den!
The last, in particular, was interesting for our expedition. He had previously worked for Nokia and was an engineer type of guy. He had been so severely burned and scarred from the Dragon's Den experience that he had decided to have nothing to do with entrepreneurship ever again. So we talked to him.
We told him about some of the other opportunities out there, including Startup Sauna. We listened to his ideas (which, btw, were not half bad), we explained the current thinking in developing minimum viable products, we talked about the importance of a good team. He was still skeptical.
We reached operational temperature for the sauna, after first being chucked further down the street by a certain large warehouse (apparently a fire alarm might go off due to sauna smoke — highly unbelievable). We invited the guy in. He agreed, after some coaxing. We talked more, we listened more. We told him what we thought of Dragon's Den (it's crap). More random people joined the sauna. Finally he agreed he'd give it one more shot. He'd look at some of the market data he could find, and possibly even apply to an accelerator — just to see how it might work. The deciding question was: do you want to be lying on your dying bed without having given it a shot? Wondering if you should have tried? He gave us a very definite, very strong 'No'. That's the true measure of if you should do it.
Tommi Ullgren of Cloudee had provided us with a bottle of sparkly. It was to be opened only on the occasion of someone not yet an entrepreneur deciding, because of our expedition, to do it. Well, this was the moment we had been waiting for. This was the point where we not only could offer advice, but where we actually inspired someone to give it one more go.
We have made the world a better place.