Waves of the Bay: Large-scale problem solving to find your opportunity by Tuomas Toropainen.

Waves of the Bay: Large-scale problem solving to find your opportunity by Tuomas Toropainen.

I remember seeing the stickers of Golden Gate Bridge in Otaniemi toilets since my first arrival there, expressing my sincere thanks to whoever has put those there. We left for San Francisco with Onni Eriksson to explore the opportunities of the US healthcare system and establish partnerships as well as our Seed round of fundraising. Briefly put, our startup AIATELLA is automating medical image analysis with machine learning, to remove one of the biggest bottlenecks on the way to faster and better patient outcomes. The landscape of healthcare, insurance and medical technology is complex and unique in US, and therefore a very attracting challenge and a market to enter. It also felt like a feasible place to create a positive impact with our solution. We certainly didn’t underestimate the scale and power of this beast of a system, nor the challenge within.

After buzzing around the SF Bay Area for a few weeks, I realized that the immersion cannot be passed along to someone who hasn’t been here. Therefore I’d like to thank SILTA and everyone involved in the process for this opportunity of growth, both personal and business-related.

The environment and people in the Bay Area push you to level up your way of processing information and taking action on it, and I enjoyed it a lot. I can not agree more with my dear batch-fellow Annika Lundström about the biggest differences between the U.S. and Finnish culture in this context:

  1. Speed of execution is desirable. Being surrounded by it for three months should also get you up to speed! And it feels great, almost like taking off from a runway.
  2. The level of ambition among everyone involved just hits differently. Feels like people are just more interested in things in general.
  3. People’s openness and readiness to find a way to contribute to your venture in any way they can is amazing, and I really wish the same positive cycle could be initiated here in the Nordics.

These three things are something I am missing a bit back in Finland. However, at the same time, I feel empowered that I got to sense the gap between the cultures and learn a lot because all three of the aforementioned are valuable and useful in any environment.

The biotech event in Nashville packed exceptional content for a 48-hour business trip.

To Find, Give, and Trust

Although the goal was to grow our business in many ways, I soon realized that one can not enter the SF ecosystem to take, you have to go there to give. Give your attention, ideas, kindness, and knowledge. Of course, you should be cautious to whom you tell the core insights of your business idea, but being open and helping people you meet goes a long way. If you go there with the mentality of simply taking, you’ll just seem rude and end up outside the circles you’d like to be in. Finding the right people and communities is a key objective only achievable by putting yourself out there and being a giver, not a taker. Once having established my presence this way, I had a better standing to find a way to get what I wanted from the network.

Just trust the process. Good things come to those who don’t immediately try to obtain them from others.

An event organized by SILTA gathered nearly 60 like-minded people to a downtown house with a rooftop sauna, for a cozy night of connecting and sharing insights.

The Finnish Genuineness

Use it to your advantage! It’s rather typical for some people to run around the events in the Bay Area, repeating their own pitch and agenda. Therefore by listening, asking questions, and being sincerely present, you can make any meeting exceptional! What I’m trying to say is that one should be very confident, open, and daring to present oneself. Genuinely connecting with people rather than 'speedrun-pitching' made most of the best outcomes and connections. On a side note, I have to mention, that for a Finnish person, it can feel like a personal hit being left on read when reaching out, but you just have to harden yourself a bit and send that 5th follow-up email! Fight to get that response and attention, people out there are just busy, and getting ignored the first couple of times should not be taken personally.

Open water swimming in the Bay is a stunning sport and served almost as meditation for me to catch a break. Thanks to Jari Salomaa for introducing me to the sport! (Please be cautious of currents and dangers before entering the water.)

Starting to scale the mountain of the US healthcare system was sometimes frustrating yet outstandingly interesting. Wrapping your head around such a vast operation takes time, but is exceptionally interesting from studying the extensive dimensions to visiting insurance representatives for breakfast in an Atherton Villa. If you, dear reader, are involved in MedTech and glancing towards the US, I’m more than happy to help and connect! We are now in the last stage of interviews for EIC funding, as well as working with DD for multiple institutional investors. We also gained several partnerships with timely synergies from our time in SF.

The environment in SF constantly feeds you with ideas and opportunities, and getting a grasp can turn out to be surprisingly valuable. It also made me grow towards traits and ways that will be beneficial no matter what. SILTA provided me and AIATELLA an opportunity that has enabled a huge leap forward. The connections created and actions initiated during SILTA have already proven their worth plenty of times, and I am truly looking forward to seeing what the future holds.