A current situation with Henna Keränen

April 20th 2020

- Head of Strategic Partnerships & Digital Marketing at Sting

What is your perspective on the development in the start-up community? Can you name an industry or specific company that you think have managed well to innovate and adjust fast in the current situation?

Of course, the crisis has affected startups when suddenly, customers are stepping back from planned projects, investors are becoming more careful, almost everything gets postponed – without having the information on when things will get back to normal again. But the benefit for startups is that they are already digital, and they can react fast – much faster than bigger companies.

It has been quite amazing to follow how the startup community is taking a role and supporting each other – not only do we see new fantastic initiatives but also the role of community has truly been emphasized. For example, the Swedish startup media Breakit has been amazing with their help. Spotify were one of the first employers who started remote working, Norrsken quickly launched their Action Against Corona campaign and at Sting, we have launched several crisis management webinars and supported our community the best we can. Many Sting startups are helping people in the risk groups and offering their services to help people to cope with social isolation.

"Amazing to see how the startup community is supporting each other"

As we have read from the news, healthtech and mental health, games and sports as well as logistics/last-mile startups are doing very well. From the Sting startups I think Beleco has been super inspiring and innovative. Beleco is a streaming service for furniture, and when it started to get several postpone e-mails from different event companies, they quickly launched a new streaming possibility: home office! Now we can stream a beautiful and most importantly, an ergonomic home office, and get it delivered directly to our home door. Such a brilliant idea and hopefully, we will see employers supporting their employees with this as well.

You participated in the finish initiative for a basic income trial (medborgarlön), can you tell us a little bit more about benefits, consequences and your personal opinion?

Or my previous employer, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, was very active with the basic income trial and a part of the project, and I had the privilege to be one of the persons involved from Sitra. The trial was based on the prediction that the fast development of technology and AI will change working life in a way, that the current social security model isn’t sustainable for in the future. Also, the social security model doesn’t encourage people to accept gigs and part-time jobs which is a huge problem, so the idea of basic income was, and still is, to answer to these two problems. The trial wasn’t a 100% actual basic income trial but is was tried on two focus groups who got the same amount of money. One focus group got unemployment benefits without needing to report different activities (like registration to “arbetsförmedlingen” or applying for different jobs etc) and the other focus group got unemployment benefits with the demand for those activities.

Now, some people within the startup scene in Sweden have suggested basic income to answer to the economic crisis due to corona crisis, which is of course interesting to follow. Also, Y Combinator, the world-famous incubator, has been a promoter for basic income for several years.

What good can come out of this? What mindset should we adopt?

I believe there might be several positive outcomes. For example, we already see some positive effects on the climate. Hopefully after this we will put more attention to our consumption habits and think again if we really need to fly to different meetings or conferences and start using the online meeting possibilities even more. Also, I believe we start using Zoom/Google Hangout dinners with our friends and families living in other countries way more often. Perhaps a Zoom pro account becomes a new subscription service that we use along Spotify, Netflix etc.

A bit cliché but I hope that we start to appreciate more social contacts and the fact that we’re living in the best possible continent in the world. It is a winning ticket in a lottery to be born in the Nordics in many ways.