During the first weeks of the crisis, we had firsthand experience of how this crisis would mean the demise of many startup companies, small businesses, and very traditional companies in a short time. In our team, the crisis did not come as paralysis, but instead it filled our team with a sharp sense of urgency and focus that developed during those initial weeks, which brought our team closer to the community like never before.
However, 2020 has also been a year filled with silver linings all around. It has been amazing to see that the startup scene has shown a steady reliance, ability to innovate, and pivot to a new era of growth. Even though VC investments in Europe slightly declined, our dear Finland came out stronger than ever with a 62% increase in funding compared to 2019, according to a short study made by NGP Capital, a Maria 01 based investor member.
As tradition dictates, it is time to make a quick recap of some of our highlights of 2020:
We mitigated the crisis and supported our community.
The crisis period started with the closedown of all public areas of our campus during March. However, as the situation in Helsinki wasn’t worsening, at that point, we gradually began to open the public spaces in late May.
We were lucky to get support from the City of Helsinki, who gave the Maria 01 campus a three-month rent waiver to get through the most challenging period. The rent waiver allowed us to provide significant rent discounts to our members. Our investor community and corporate members also showed their support to the startup members by voluntarily paying extra rents.
The above is an excellent example of the tight-knit community Maria 01 has become. It’s wonderful to see how the community helps each other.
We crystallized our community values with our community.
After the summer holidays, we recovered fast to the new normal and focused on community development. We decided to craft the Maria 01 community values during the summer to strengthen the sense of belonging and unmistakable identity to how its people are and behave in certain situations.
We crystallized our community values by using our member company Innoduel’s fantastic facilitation and engagement tool. After a recurring feedback loop, we defined our four main values: collaboration, trust, international, and impact & responsibility. We look forward to sharing next year our final set of developed values with their respective meanings.
We got inspired by our startup members’ resilience and sisu spirit.
It has been fantastic to see many of our member companies accelerate their growth after the initial shock. For example, Brella made a quick turnaround of their business from serving live events to serving remote event organizers in a record time and becoming a leader in that space.
Kodit.io announced its new equity and debt funding round of €100 million to accelerate the real estate market. We also had many other grand funding rounds such as Treamer, Playvation, Lightheart Games, MyGamez, Disior, Ultimate.AI, Dixu, to name a few.
The campus expansion project got the green light from the Helsinki City Council.
The future campus project has been one of the most discussed and awaited development projects in Helsinki. This September, The Helsinki City Council gathered to discuss and, as a result, approve the development plans for our future Maria 01 campus – currently the leading startup campus in the Nordics and now growing to be Europe’s largest.
Now that this hurdle is over, the next step for the campus development is citizen engagement – where everyone in the area gets to share their concerns or suggestions about the project. Once that stage is over the campus’ building phase can begin. We are hopeful and excited about this new stage to help position Finland as a consolidated startup ecosystem player globally.
As for 2021, there’s a lot of hope in the air. Next year we will focus on engaging our community and its members, improving our campus, e.g., to better support hybrid-work, strengthen our partnership model, and digitizing the services and value that Maria 01 offers. Our mission is to be the best place and community in Finland for startups to grow.
PS: Maria 01 2020 Impact Report will be launched in February next year. Sign up to our monthly digests and get the report as soon as it drops! In the meantime feel free to browse through 2019’s edition here.