Here we come, San Francisco!

Here we come, San Francisco!

As the SILTA S23 program will start the following week in the San Francisco Bay Area, I think it is super exciting to introduce what our participants are set to be working on and achieving during the three months of the program. Thus, in this blog text we are going to take a deep dive into what kind of journey our participants are going to embark on during the next three months, and what are their objectives and expectations for the program.

As of some context, the foundation of everything that will happen during the program are the objectives and key results (OKRs) that the participants have applied with to the program and that have been developed during the orientation. Majority of the time in the Bay Area is reserved for the participants to work towards achieving their objectives. Clear OKRs and continuous measuring of the progress enables short-term growth but also monitoring that the efforts are used for relevant things. 

There are some common nominators between the objectives of the participants but they also differ depending on the stage of the participant’s company and their business case. One of the key common nominators is building a network of relevant people in the SF Bay Area. As the density of relevant top talents and the serendipity in the Bay Area are super high, it is likely to encounter potentially relevant connections anywhere from events to trail runs. We believe this is one of the key factors of SF being the place-to-be for early-stage tech founders and building a broad network has such an immense value. The network might be the thing that will provide the most value for the participants in the long-term but building a network from ground up is of course laborious and will take a lot of effort and grit from the participants.

In addition to building a network of other founders and investors, the participants are set to progress their companies during the program. Making progress can mean anything from closing new customers to gaining insights in order to make a major pivot. For example, HER is set to launch their MVP during the program whereas Genki Health is to build a solid product vision and pilot their product. Olo’s biggest goal is to get 1000 paying customers from the Bay Area. In addition, Genki Health and Olo will dig deeper into the wellbeing market in the US. sommifyAI is focused on penetrating the US market with their product.

What the participants are mostly expecting and excited about building their companies and living in the Bay Area seem to be the people - both the locals but also living with the other SILTA participants as well to get support and sparring from one another. I think Dima Syrotkin (Co-Founder & CEO at Pandatron) put it really well: “I'm most excited about making friends in the Bay. There are lots of interesting people!”

Still there are things that make the participants and also myself concerned. One natural one is how will we stand out from the competition and achieve the objectives set for the duration of the program. For example, Miikka from Genki Health finds the main concerns to be “not finding the best places to be in and the best people to meet”. Not finding or getting in touch with the relevant people is definitely a major challenge for the participants but we believe that we will overcome it with activeness, boldness and perseverance. Some other aspects are the safety concerns and time zone difference to Finland/Europe. Safety is definitely something that needs to be taken care of - knowing the borders of Tenderloin by heart might be the first thing every participant will do during the first week.

Where do the participants want to see their companies and themselves after the program? I think it is the easiest to let the participants to speak for themselves:

Anna Lindford, Founder & CEO at HER: “Launching our MVP and helping women around the world elevate health and performance by working with their bodies, not against them.”

Miikka Kirsilä, Co-Founder at Genki Health: “After the program I want to see myself and my company with a strong product vision that has already been piloted with different customers.”

Dima Syrotkin, Co-Founder & CEO at Pandatron: “After the program I'd want to see my company on a sustainable path, making progress, whether in the US or Finland.”

Jacob Pichna, Co-Founder & CEO at sommifyAI: “When I return to Finland in May we will have proven the commercial potential of our product in the US market and be one step closer to our vision of being the standard solution for pairing wine and food by 2025.”

Markus Pesonen & Catarina Brazäo, Co-Founders at Olo: ”After the program, we aim to have achieved our OKRs, secured funding, gained traction in the US market, and established relationships with investors and mentors. We hope to have a strong network and a solid foundation for continued growth and success. Additionally, we want to have gained valuable insights into the US market and the startup ecosystem.”

Even though the program focuses mainly on short-term progress of the participant companies, the long-term effect of internalizing the Silicon Valley mindset of moving quickly and setting overly ambitious goals might be the most valuable outcome of the program for each participant. It has already been a decisive factor for multiple growth companies hailing from Finland, and most probably for the next generation of the massively successful companies as well. Therefore, we look forward to the next three months in the Bay Area with excitement!

If you want to meet up or collaborate during the program, reach out to me at

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