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Four Startups at Maria 01 Tell Us How They are Building Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces

Written by Vanessa Tan and Kim Oguilve Read time 6 min

Rarely do we give credit to startups building diverse and inclusive workplaces. At Maria 01, we want to highlight some of our community teams, whom we believe are examples to follow in diversity and inclusion.

Four Startups at Maria 01 Tell Us How They are Building Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces

According to Inklusiiv, workplace diversity is about understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people. This includes, but is not limited to, those colleagues of different gender, race, religion, political opinion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, marital status, language, disability, or other marginalized aspects contributing to where we come from, who we are and what we look like.

Therefore diversity is a much broader topic than just gender. Additionally, when talking about diversity, one has to take into account another topic: inclusion.

Inclusion is the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and contribute fully to their success.

A path where perfection is out of the question

It is clear that having both an inclusive and diverse environment fosters openness, psychological safety, and a sense of belonging. However, building a diverse and inclusive workplace takes time. It is a journey where perfection is out of the question – but it can only get better gradually if there is knowledge and accountability in this matter from the early stages of building a company. 

We shortly asked four startups at Maria 01 to share their thoughts on what role diversity and inclusion plays in their teams and where they’re at today.

Brella 

The Brella Team

Brella is the world’s leading virtual event platform built to foster engagement and interactions between event participants. From easy-to-watch content to matchmade 1:1 meetings, their platform is an excellent example of an essential tool for virtual, physical, and hybrid events. 

Brella is one of the startups at Maria 01 that has gone through a rollercoaster of changes that took its peak from the very initial weeks of the lockdown last year. However, after a strong comeback, the team has been recruiting like crazy for the past months.

D&I has been an essential part of our Brella DNA from the very beginning. So far, things have developed quite organically just by focusing on a diverse hiring pool, psychological safety, respect, and trust. However, we don’t take this for granted. We’re planning on investing a lot more in these topics in the future. We want to lead the change and increase awareness in the current landscape of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in the technology sector. — Hanna Kontinen, Talent and Culture Lead

As of today, the Brella team has over 16 nationalities out of 42 people. Similarly, the age and gender diversity are appropriately balanced; the team is 70% men and 30% women, ranging from 23 to 45 years old. 

Selma Finance

The Selma Crew

Selma Finance is one of the startups at Maria 01 based in Finland but currently only operates in Switzerland due to financial regulations. Selma Finance believes that your money should be invested in the right way, without hidden costs, intransparent fees, and complicated financial jargon. The team developed “Selma,” a personal investment assistant that helps you invest and take care of your money that 100% fits your financial life.

At Selma, our diverse and international culture is part of our backbone. Already our four founders have a background from four different countries and professions. Since the start, we emphasized building a culture where we appreciate skill over hierarchy, ideas over egos, and experiments over guesswork that allow everyone to build the company further. We believe that this is the only way an organization can be innovative and disrupt traditional industries like the financial service sector where we are operating in. — Kevin Linser, Founder

Besides being a Swiss-Finnish founded startup, the Selma team nicely packs six nationalities and a 30% women, 70% men gender split. Furthermore, the team houses a broad range of skill sets such as software engineering, design, financial services, marketing, general business, communication, mathematics, and economics. 

CHAOS

The CHAOS Crew.

CHAOS joined Maria 01 at the very early stages of their company. CHAOS’s mission is to make future cities vibrant places to live in by helping today’s real-estate investors forecast how they will grow and evolve through data-driven insights. Their AI-platform solution provides a better understanding of cities’ complexity in an easy and intuitive map-based dashboard. They combine multiple data sources to forecast property market performance.

As a company led by female foreigners, diversity and inclusion are an undetachable part of CHAOS’ culture. We value teamwork, progressive thinking, grit and know that this comes in different shapes, colors, and backgrounds. This has organically derived in a team of business folks, change-drivers, nerds, speakers, thinkers, and doers.

Each of us is from a different part of the globe and converge on one common passion: creating more liveable cities for everyone. I cannot emphasize enough the great value that being exposed to multiple perspectives has. In our experience, these different perspectives have come together in novel ways, opening doors to innovation. — Paloma Bautista, COO at CHAOS 

CHAOS is the only company at Maria 01 founded by two foreign women – making this setup extremely rare in the Finnish startup ecosystem. Today, this diverse team packs nine nationalities and a 60% women and 40% men gender split. The teams’ skill set is varied, ranging from hardcore tech backgrounds like data science, machine learning to less tech-oriented ones like architecture, marketing, and business.

Quicksave Interactive

The Quicksave Team

Quicksave Interactive is a team of veteran game developers from Finland. They have worked with multiple platforms like consoles, PC, and mobile but have specialized since 2015 to build games and game technology for messaging platforms.

We started with a 50/50 gender balance when we were only four people. I believe that helps us going forward as we keep a balance and not work an uphill battle to achieve it. The gaming industry has been attracting more women on the development side, but there is always room for more talent in any technology sector.

The split among the audience who play games has for a long time been roughly equal 50/50 between genders, and it’s good to have a balance on the development teams too. As a team, we can still grow in the range of nationalities which is likely to happen with time as the team grows. The Finnish gaming industry has a good reputation as a place to work, and our industry has been attracting talent from abroad already for a long time.Elina Arponen, CEO and Founder

The company started as a team of four people with an equal gender balance, which is not the norm in the games industry. While the team is fully Finnish, there are plans to diversify future recruitments thanks to Finland’s reputation as a thriving games hub and its commitment to a diverse and inclusive team since its inception.


We hope that these examples have inspired you to learn more about building a diverse and inclusive team. Each company presented here has a unique approach of how diversity and inclusion plays in their team, with the common characteristic of building their teams with diversity and inclusivity from early on.

Getting started is as simple as learning more about the topic, assessing your current situation, and understanding why and where that change can lead you to, and thus taking action. We recommend you to check out Inklusiiv’s resource bank, where you can read about the latest research, knowledge, and best practices from around the globe in this field.

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