Last morning after a few stories fell through, we were desperate enough to notice a "I love Tekes" t-shirt webshop being passed around on Facebook. Obviously it was time for some tough investigative journalism, and this dogged reporter was prepared to ask the tough questions. Why? How? and… is that really a 'I love Tekes' thong?
For those unfamiliar with the Finnish funding ecosystem, Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, is a major player in Finland's funding rounds by essentially doubling or tripling the amount of private money put into a company with non-dilutive grants or cheap loans. It's basically free money, but like all free money coming from taxpayers, people have the right to complain about efficiency and processes.
Were these shirts made out of raging Tekes passion, or in an ironic manner? Digging through the comments I realized my Finnish is just as poor as the Bing-powered translations on Facebook, but progressed forward for facts, undaunted by western governments' growing crackdown on whistleblowers and journalists.
"We're a bootstrapping startup and we need money from every source possible," explains Anssi Uimonen, Proprietor of the t-shirt webshop. "I saw a conversation on Twitter where people were saying they wanted an 'I Love Tekes' t-shirt. I saw customers and a need, so I developed the product in under five hours. Thats the MVP - super fast, quick, and dirty."
Uimonen contents that these Facebook commenters needs were ironic, but he doesn't underline that himself, saying that Tekes is an important tool in Finland for startups.
The project Uimonen mentioned bootstrapping through t-shirt sales looks like it's got legs. Beatsy is sort of an AirBNB meets electronic music DJs, letting you book DJs for gigs and parties. Right now the project is in customer development stage, but has gathered 20 carefully selected artists from around Finland ranging from trendy EDM to drum and base and jungle, so all the bases are covered. ArcticStartup been looking for a decent DJ for events, so I'd say there's a need out there. To help support the project, also feel free to pick up a 'I support Beatsy' hoodie or iPhone case.
But getting back to the core issue on every Finnish entrepreneur's minds, Tekes T-shirts, more questions remain unanswered. What was the impetus to this new Finnish fashion movement?
'Tough Love Angel' Mika Marjalaakso explains that recently he's been writing openly on his blog about problems he's been experiencing with Tekes, which has picked up some traction across a number of social medium. One of his problems is a 'zombie company', or a company that received an R&D loan, but Tekes won't let it shut down, no matter if Marjalaakso is calling it dead.
"Those writings got noticed by Tekes, and I wanted to pinpoint there is a huge problem," says Marjalaakso. "They said they were happy that someone is saying these things, so they suggested if it would make some sense to make a meeting with some executives to discuss the situation."
In the set-up to the meeting, Josi Tikkanen, the Communications Manager of Tekes, asked Marjalaakso if there was anything he would like to have at the meeting, to which Marjalaakso replied, "I'm happy, as long as there's coffee."
In a major power play, Tikkanen broke the coffee machine at the meeting location, or the machine was already broken; we're not sure, the facts are still coming in. Regardless, there was no coffee, but Marjalaakso said they had a really good, positive meeting.
Afterwards, this tweet exchange broke out, where sending a I heart Tekes t-shirt was suggested.
And here we are at the bottom of it all. But fear not, loyal readers. We'll stay on top of this Tekes T-Shirt story as it develops. And hopefully we'll have Marjalaakso's conclusion to his Tekes love relationship as a guest post.