The emerging startup eco­system in Finland

Nordic Law was a proud partner of Startup Weekend Helsinki edition VII, whereby we got to take part in a very interesting and inspiring event filled with highly motivated teams and an awesome atmosphere. We at Nordic Law were thrilled that said opportunity was offered us as we are very active within the vibrant Finnish startup culture. Yes, you noticed correctly – we are talking about the vibrant Finnish startup culture – as a startup-orientated law firm we have during the last few years seen a rapid change in the Finnish startup scene, whereby we are of the view that a very exciting startup culture has emerged also in Finland – a country that has been labelled as the sick man of Europe due to the challenges its public economy is currently facing. We would, however, dare to say that Finland is more like the startup center of Northern Europe and the local startup scene is ever-blooming.

However, based on our discussions with the teams at Startup Weekend Helsinki, we noticed that several teams were of the view that Finnish legal services are too expensive for early- and growth-stage startups, which naturally may cause serious issues at a later stage if the legal aspects are not taken care of. We at Nordic Law are, however, one of the few law firms in Finland with a special focus on early- and growth-stage startups with services ranging from assisting in the founding stage all the way to financing rounds, the expansion of the startup and the exit of the founding partners. We have experienced a conscious shift during the last few years from the traditional SME clients to startup clients of all size, whereby our main goal is to provide extraordinary surplus value for startups by using innovative solutions combined with specialized knowledge and fixed priced service packages. Our aim is to assist startups during their whole life span, whereby we are always primarily seeking for long-term business relationships, in which the lawyer-client relationship is built slow and steady. We like to compare the business relationships with our startup clients to a marathon, not a 100 meter sprint.

Since the year 2014 Nordic Law has, as mentioned above, consciously started to focus more on startups as we see an enormous potential regarding Finnish startups and innovations. However, we have unfortunately noticed that the legal services, which currently are offered to startups, do not go hand-in-hand with the emerging Finnish startup scene and the on-going digitalization, whereby there has not been a single startup-orientated law firm prior to Nordic Law. Besides us, the bigger law firms are naturally very interested in the Finnish startup scene, whereby said firms are offering legal services especially to growth-stage startups, but at what price? Bigger law firms offer legal services mainly based on the `oh-so´ traditional hourly fee without taking due consideration to the finite financial resources of startups, especially regarding early-stage startups.

We at Nordic Law, on the other hand, have taken the Finnish legal bull by its horns, whereby we have started to tackle the traditional legal invoicing structure which currently is offered to startups by the mainstream bigger law firms. Thus we have thrown aside the old-world invoicing structure where clients are invoiced per the hour, whereby instead we have taken a more agile and risk sharing approach to the invoicing structure regarding legal services offered to startups. Our decision is based on the fact that all startups, no matter of their size, should be entitled to all-encompassing legal services for a fixed and predictable price. Law firms should not select their startup clientele based on the development stage of the startup, but unfortunately many startups out there are either left without much needed legal service or they are offered legal services for a very hefty price. Hence there is an immense need for disruption regarding the Finnish market for legal services and we at Nordic Law are more than glad to act as a disruptor.

Taking into consideration all the above mentioned, it has been a no-brainer for us to partner up with various startup events, where we get to take part in, and most important – be a part of the dynamic Finnish startup ecosystem. For us the partnerships with the various Finnish startup players (if you will) has never been about getting new clients – the major factor for us has been the opportunity to connect and discuss with all the various actors of the Finnish startup scene. If we end up getting new startup clients, it’s a complimentary, not a compulsory, addition.

Jon Hautamäki

The author of this blog post is a partner at Nordic Law and an avid disruptor of the Finnish legal market.

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