Aalto University: SILTA connects entrepreneurial students with the opportunities of Silicon Valley

A new startup hacker house program will be taking entrepreneurs from Finland to the San Francisco Bay Area in the spring of 2022. You do not need to be an Aalto student to apply – having a driven entrepreneurial mindset is enough!

The project – which is being piloted by Aalto Entrepreneurship Society – got started after a phone call between Kristian Ranta, the Co-Founder and CEO of mental healthcare startup Meru Health, and Niko Laukkanen, Aaltoes board member and now a member of the newfound SILTA team.

‘Kristian was gathering a project team to build a program that takes entrepreneurs from Finland to Silicon Valley to immerse themselves into the unique, vibrant culture of the San Francisco Bay Area,’ Niko recalls.

‘Finnish entrepreneurs have been visiting Silicon Valley for decades now, and it has had an immense impact on their mindsets and perspectives on life,’ Kristian says.

‘The impact has been especially powerful among those entrepreneurs who have stayed in the area for longer periods, getting fully immersed in the local culture mix of startups, tech and innovation. Concretely witnessing how business is scaled to a global level while meeting some of the brightest tech entrepreneurs in the world leaves a remarkable trace.’

The project was initially kicked off in summer 2020. However, it soon became evident that the project should not be brought forward until the United States borders would open its borders for overseas visitors again.

‘It felt like an eternity as no real progress could be made regarding the program,’ Niko says.

The team, consisting of four Aalto students and Kristian Ranta, saw an opportunity as the US border reopened again in October. After more than a year of waiting, the team decided to take things forward.

‘Everyone was eager to get the project going. We are grateful for all the help we have received along the long way – we have heard numerous inspiring stories and anecdotes of peoples’ life-altering visits to the San Francisco Bay Area, and we cannot wait to see what will come out of the SILTA program.’

Build your startup in Silicon Valley for three months
SILTA is a program that takes budding Finland-based entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley to live in a startup hacker house for three months, enabling them to fully immerse themselves in the vibrant entrepreneurial culture of the Bay Area.

The program is intended for teams consisting of one or two people who already have an entrepreneurial agenda they want to take forward in the Silicon Valley area. This entrepreneurial agenda can mean many things – finding a co-founder, validating your first product, testing the US market, or even completely changing your course as an entrepreneur.

The selected teams will get to know a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and startups during the program. The program consists of activities tailored to meet each participants’ needs – this can include participating in networking events, industry meetups, various relevant conferences and taking on other opportunities for the participants to make the most of the program.

‘Instead of having a standardised set of activities meant for everyone, we want to ensure we help each program participant with their individual agenda. This way, we can enable the participants to maximise value from the time spent in the area,’ Niko says.

‘We want to enable entrepreneurs from Finland to develop the can-do attitude of breaking through globally. Finnish talent is highly competent in international comparison. However, our national habit is to settle, always stay humble about our success and not make too much of a fuss about ourselves.’

With absorbing budding Finnish entrepreneurs in the can-do-attitude of Silicon Valley, the program hopes to kickstart the next generation of Finland’s globally ambitious founders.

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