Last week, I had lunch with Pekka Roine. This follows my trip to Finland (and my recent posts) where many people advised me to meet this Finn living in Switzerland. He described himself has bbb = big, bald, and bearded… so I answered back I was gg = grey hair and glasses so that we could find each other on the EPFL campus.
We have one thing in common: we spent some time at Stanford University and he told me something about it. He mentioned this experience was great for 3 reasons,
– the least important one is that Stanford has the best professors in the world,
– the second least important is that when you are there, you know at least 200 people who are like you, so you are not isolated,
– but the most important is that you are away from home and it gives perspective and new horizons.
Pekka worked for DEC before the company disappeared and experienced the best years of the company. Then he became an independent since 1994 and he has been on the board of 25 companies and also helped in launching 2 VC firms, PTV and Conor.
So we discussed how to help our entrepreneurs. He believes in Israel and its incubator model where people who know how to run them select 2-3% of the best projects and follow them closely. He told me about this guy who failed his 1st start-up, M&Aed the 2nd, IPOed the 3rd so felt qualified to run an incubator. Good point!
I am not a big fan of incubator, someone had told me if I meant incinerator, but with a model where the Yozma tools were privatized with the right incentives and people, this is a different story. So is this a way to solve the unsolvable, this chicken and egg problem that we do not have enough role models and entrepreneurs following the right models. Pekka believes in exchanges with Israel, I believe in the Go West which has similarities. There has to be a way we can convince our decision makers at the academic and national level, and we should not stop trying because we are RIGHT, Pekka! We need to create high-growth companies which are the places for the future jobs for our kids.
There is no doubt that Finns and Finland were inspiring for me!
A small addition: I just discovered (I mean on November 13) this article from the Helsinki Times, following an interview I had given during my trip.