Your office can be a former operations room. Old surgery lamps still hang from the ceiling where software developers work on getting their feature done. A venture capitalist might be just next door to your office. You may get lucky just by bumping into the right person in the corridors of Maria 01. Startups in Finland (and beyond!) have chosen Maria as their heart. And Espeo was drawn to it too…
‘The hospital of nerds’
Maria 01 is owned by the City of Helsinki, NewCo Helsinki, and several business angels from the Finnish Startup Foundation. Maria-the-hospital closed its hospital doors over 9 years ago. Since then, the building hasn’t been in use – until now. Maria-the-hub was regarded as a project that needed a longer timespan for success, but it’s already doing great. To put it in simple terms, it’s the top center for startups in Finland, were workplaces and opportunities abound. It’s connected with Sup46 in Stockholm and Grundr in Oslo.
200 startups in Finland in the queue
It’s the low rent and the awesome community at Maria 01 that attracts startup entrepreneurs. At this point, there are 85 startups inhabiting in the building. And more are on their way. The queue is long – there are almost 200 start-ups waiting to become a part of the Maria complex.
What’s the secret here?
Much of the success can be attributed to – as always – the people. As Maria’s own Erika Halonen tells us, “our main priority is to make sure startup entrepreneurs are healthy and happy”. Maria 01’s aim is to create an environment where startups are not forced into any fixed agenda and rules. You can sense a hands-off mentality and a natural culture present.
It is common at Maria 01 to talk about pay-it-forward culture. Good advice can be just a table turn or Slack discussion away.
So who checks into the hospital?
You’d think this is just about startups in Finland – but that’s not exactly true. Big companies and service providers see the different opportunities that the growing community of Maria 0-1 is offering. The doors of Maria 01 are to be kept as open as possible for everyone: friends, partners, global connections – if you can contribute, you’ll be welcome.
However, not every entrepreneur is automatically given access. The companies are required to have a customer base and some revenue in order to survive at least one year. What’s more, Maria 01 has as a target to have each startup grow that big that they can’t stay in the building anymore.
Friends at the House
So this brings us to, well, us. Though we certainly know the grind of startup life ourselves (go on, ask our founders how Espeo started off!), we’re not a startup, right? But we’ve found our place at Maria too. We believe we can contribute to discussions about custom software development or offer technological advice in general. We have been in countless discussions with hundreds of startups and growth companies in Finland. This has given us an insight and expertise in how startups need to work in order to be successful, especially in a scalable and agile software development.