The first CherryonTop Accelerator program came to an end on April 5th 2017 at our Demo Day. As we’re now moving on to our investment period, it’s a good time to share some thoughts on what all of our amazing startups got out of it, and reflect on what we learned from the process.

Our mission

We wanted to do things differently at CherryonTop, and kick start our activities as business angel investors with a learning by doing approach. We feel that cases evolve, but the entrepreneurs, their personality and drivers remain as long as the company is alive, so getting to know one another is also a big driver for us.

We’re all entrepreneurs, so that’s the perspective we wanted to work from with the startups – side by side, sharing knowledge and experience from one entrepreneur to another. Also we wanted to make sure that the startups could learn from one another.

Our biggest learning curve happened in figuring out how we ourselves can best add the most value. We expect the startups we work with to have a passion for creating something valuable for others, but we also want to be able to bring real value to the teams through our digital experience.

Product design, marketing, and especially storytelling are at the heart of what we wanted to get across, and yes, it’s been exciting to see what’s happened since we started in January.

How did we do

During the Demo Day our startups got to present their services and journey to us. Each team had had challenges and successes along the way, and had made significant progress over the course of the spring.

Many of the startups commented that we had pushed them to think bigger and to take action. They had received plenty of useful practical advice and constructive criticism regarding their products and services, helping them understand and crystallize what the core is from the user’s point of view, and what to improve.

Many had managed to find a new direction and drive after getting caught in a bit of a rut, and some had taken big leaps in their service design and story.

What’s next

The Demo Day was also an opportunity for us to look back and reflect on what we learned. We wanted to see real progress, and – in Sami Häkkinen’s words – it worked out beautifully.

We had good mentoring sessions with each startup, and hope all the teams feel like they received enough along the way, given we had a large number of cases in our own “pilot”. One change for fall 2017 will be to take on a smaller number of startups to ensure we can really create maximum impact together.

As the CherryonTop team we also learned that the real beef is in the co-thinking and co-doing together with each individual startup before their digital products and services are too far along. This is the phase where the biggest impact and jump to the next level can be made.

The next CherryonTop program for digital-first early stage startups is planned for fall 2017 – if you’d like to work with us, contact tiina@cherryontopaccelerator.com!