Introduction: Top Ten Mistakes of Startups Rising from Nokia’s Ashes

In my role as an angel investor and startup advisor, I have lately engaged with a large number of high technology startups with their origins in struggling Nokia. We are living truly exciting times as this experienced army of software developers, hardware geeks, and business developers are building technology-based startups in great numbers. Over the past two years, more than 200 Nokia-based startups have already been founded globally – not all of them hitech product startups though. And there will be a fairly large amount of new ones over the next twelve months. So, as a phenomenon this certainly is a big deal – especially in Finland.

I am worried. Time and time again I have encountered pretty much the same mistakes across these Nokia-based startups I have engaged with. Mistakes, that no doubt can kill these startups, or at the minimum slow down their growth. These constantly recurring mistakes in Nokia-based startups inspired me, and I first assembled a prioritized list of top mistakes just for myself, and then thought that perhaps if I shared my list for the rest, folks in these Nokia-based startups would do less mistakes. Being aware usually helps a lot.

I have identified the top ten mistakes in Nokia-based startups, and will discuss these one by one in an upcoming series of blog posts Top Ten Mistakes in Startups Rising from Nokia’s Ashes. These posts are published here at during the next three weeks.

I will write the posts with Nokia angle. Most of these mistakes, however, are generic in their nature to startups arising from any large corporation. There is a strong connection to not following lean startup principles, and thus the posts are also relevant to any startup – independent of its origin. The Nokia specificity comes mainly from two factors: the Nokia specific culture and its handicaps, and the rules and monetary incentives of Nokia’s incubation programs that cultivate and more likely lead to certain mistakes.

The following posts are now live:

If you would like to get notified of a new post, please follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to the blog and its Facebook page.

I hope you will enjoy this series, and the discussion it triggers.

P.S. I also want to voice out, before anyone brings it forward, that some of the best startups I have seen lately are Nokia-based, and thus not all Nokia-based startups share these mistakes while most do.
P.P.S. I do wish that the Nokia corporation will rise and shine again some day. I just so much enjoyed the catchy ashes part (which indeed is a fact given Nokia’s downslide from #1 market position) in the title but don’t want anyone to get offended by that. If you did get offended, please stop reading now as this blog is not for faint-hearted.

10 thoughts on “Introduction: Top Ten Mistakes of Startups Rising from Nokia’s Ashes

  1. Antti Hätinen

    The whole Nokia is doing the same mistakes, not just its offsprings. The Nokia management (and everybody laid off) should start by reading the Lean Startup to understand why they are failing.

  2. David Winegar

    Great idea for a blog and I look forward to reading your insights. As an entrepreneur both in Silicone Valley and here in Finland, I also have seen a lot of mistakes and made a few myself. I am hoping that this will also be a place to share other’s insights! Of course you didn’t mention this in your initial post – perhaps your first mistake in launching this 🙂 I am sure you are also interested in making this a two-way conversation, or???

    1. mikamarjalaakso Post author

      David, thanks. Mistakes are what all entrepreneurs make. Startups don’t make mistakes – people do. Mistakes are inspiring. They may kill you, but likewise you only learn through mistakes (not reading books!), and some of the world’s most profitable businesses have resulted from a series of mistakes. Do the right mistakes! 🙂

      I think this blog can evolve into a placeholder of mistakes by entrepreneurs willing to share and discussing their experiences. One step at a time. I really, really would love to have a lots of interaction. This basic WordPress comment system (which I can’t change unless I start hosting the blog myself) seems to be pretty boring as it is not integrated with Facebook. I am considering moving the whole discussion part mostly to ToughLoveAngel’s Facebook page, where the discussion and interactions would naturally be more interactive and real-time. The topic, however, might be difficult to comment with real-name if you are e.g. still working at Nokia.

      I wouldn’t call my thinking about Nokia Startups really insights, as they are more simple observations. I would just love it if my current list of 10 mistakes would evolve and change during the course of this blog series, as that would signal that the feedback loop works.

  3. Pingback: Do you learn anything useful in a Big Corporate? » Real Box Score

  4. mikamarjalaakso Post author

    Dennis, the videos I did with the Kick Network are temporarily banned (Kick Network is partly funded by Nokia), and the Nokia officials will view videos tomorrow and make a decision if Kick Network is allowed to publish them or not. Nothing spectacular in these videos, just typical fear of …… not stepping on someone’s toes.

    It doesn’t change anything on my behalf. I am going to continue writing as I totally belive this stuff to be helpful for first-time entrepreneurs, and somebody got to write on this shit.

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    Usually I don’t read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice article.


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