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The International Venture Academy (IVA) is a program dedicated to innovative startups. The program aims to help the participants to improve their own readiness to obtain funding from investors. In Finland, IVA is organized for the fourth time this year in cooperation with HHub. This year the program specifically targets artificial intelligence, health technology and cyber security startups.

– Based on the feedback, the practical and intensive IVA bootcamp gives companies much better capabilities for internationalization and applying for financing, says HHub's project manager Nina Rautiainen and mentions that last year the program’s NPS score was 100.

Behind IVA is Entrepreneur Avenue, a company of three international business angels that organizes IVA programs in different parts of the world.

– I am motivated by the opportunity to contribute to creating success for startups, says Jean-Louis (JL) Brelet from France, who is one of the coaches of the program.

– Of course, we are not experts in health technology, for example, but we understand how investments and international business works, and we can help startup companies by sharing our know-how and decades of experience.

JL Brelet Business Rally 2022JL Brelet is one of the coaches of International Venture Academy.

Help before the seed funding stage

Most typically companies take part in the program at a stage where they want to obtain seed funding. The program includes many ways to develop the multitude of skills needed for obtaining financing. Business ideas and plans are thoroughly reviewed, and elevator pitches are refined. The coaches challenge the participants to develop and think from new perspectives.

– What is your innovation like really? Are you even in the right market? What kind of go-to-market strategy do you have? Can you cite your company's key figures off the cuff? Such things must be crystal clear to yourself if you are going to be able to convince investors JL Brelet illustrates.

During the four-day bootcamp, coaches work closely with companies for up to ten hours a day.

– We prepare and spar the participants in every way so that they are able to convince not only domestic but also foreign funders, says JL Brelet.

At the end of the week, the entrepreneurs have fine-tuned their market position, they know how to talk to sell their product or service, and they know how to word their company story and business model in a convincing and inspiring way. The bootcamp culminates on its last day: the week's learnings are acid-tested in a pitching competition, in which funders from at least Finland participate.

Valuable networks

JL Brelet believes that building networks is one of the best outcomes of the IVA program. 

– We collide people into each other both during and after the program. And of course, the participants network with each other during the bootcamp, says JL Brelet.

All the program’s coaches open their own networks for the winners of the pitching competition of the IVA program: They will be able to take part in an international funding event in the fall of 2023 as a prize.

It is easy to succeed in the domestic market

One of the goals of the program is that the overall mindset of the participants becomes more international. According to JL Brelet, many companies do well in their own home market, but abroad they may be completely lost because they simply do not know the ways business is done there.

– In Finland, it's easy for Finns to pitch and sell to Finns, but you don't have to go farther afield than France or Italy, and the dynamics are completely different, JL Brelet says.

– All companies need to internationalize, but they must and should choose their battles. You don't need to go everywhere, but it is essential to identify markets that are favorable for you. The most important thing is to understand that what works in Finland does not necessarily work elsewhere."

Application period for International Venture Academy is open until April 27th. Read more about IVA and apply now!