Icebreaker Pre-founder Project

Elevator pitch

If you’re thinking about founding or joining a software-driven startup, keep reading. It doesn't matter if you don't have a team or idea already; everyone from our community is welcome. 

We’re putting 50 bright but diverse pre-founders* together and expect that great things will come out of it. For a 10-week period the participants will meet at afterwork sessions to learn and do work together on new startups with unique ideas and great teams. You'll meet other pre-founders, get the best advice from other founders (e.g. Nora Rosendahl, Miki Kuusi, Kristo Ovaska, Pyry Åvist) and work on moving forward together. If everything goes like in Strömsö, we invest €40k-350k in your idea and team after the project.


Application period has now ended. If you missed it this time but you'd be interested in joining the next pre-founder project, send us a mail at!

Who is this for?

The selected *pre-founders have four things in common:

  1. They're still working at a day-job or have just left
  2. They've been working for 5+ years
  3. They've been able to show that they are great at what they do
  4. They're interested in to start or join an early-stage company

Diversity plays an important role and you can expect to meet people who have different skills and industry experience. Some have background in software development or tech research whereas others are great in business development, marketing, design and other disciplines.

What’s in it for you?

During the 10 weeks you will:

  1. Have fun while meeting new people and potential co-founders with diverse skillsets and experiences
  2. Develop your or someone else’s idea, and get closer to building something that people want
  3. Learn a thing or two about the dos and don’ts of a software-driven startup’s first 12 months; from scratch to series-A.
  4. Raise funding from us for your software-driven startup, if you have developed a unique idea with a great team. This can also happen later after the project.

Why are we doing this?

Our goal is to make investments (á €40k-350k) in great teams that have unique ideas for software-driven startups. For us this project is a homerun if we make even one good investment at the end of the project. Btw, if you don’t know who we are or what we do, read more here.

Agenda and content

The agenda and content of the program is specifically designed for individuals who are also working at a "day-job". We have specific themes for each day but the point is really to work on what is most relevant for you.

Below you’ll find the agenda of the 10-week program.

Before the first session

  • Think about what your "edge" could be. E.g. domain edge, product edge or tech edge?
  • Do you have ideas that you would want to develop further? Write it down in a simple form. For example try to answer the Heilemeier questions concisely: Heilemeier questions.
  • Log in to our online directory and learn about other participants’ backgrounds and ideas.

Wed 15.3 18:00

  • Theme: Thinking about your edge and your idea
  • Intro and thoughts from the Icebreaker team
  • Guest speaker: Nora Rosendahl, co-founder and COO/CFO of YOU-app

Wed 29.3 18:00

  • Theme: Customer development when all you have is just an early idea
  • Guest speaker: Mikael Roos, founder and CTO of Selma Finance. Former founder and product lead of Flowdock (acquired by Rally Software in 2013).

Thu 13.4 18:00

  • Theme: Building a team and CEO philosophy
  • Guest speaker: Kristo Ovaska, co-founder and CEO of Smartly

Thu 27.4 18:00

  • Theme: The minimum viable product (MVP)
  • Guest speaker: Pyry Åvist, co-founder and CTO of HoxHunt

Thu 11.5 18:00

  • Theme: Fundraising in the very early stage
  • Guest speakers: Miki Kuusi, co-founder and CEO at Wolt, Icebreaker team and portfolio companies.

Thu 18.5 18:00

  • Theme: The last supper
  • Wrapping up and having fun.
  • Guest speakers: TBA


What is the goal of the project?

The project aims to breed new startups with unique ideas and great teams. If everything goes like in Störmsö, Icebreaker will make investments (á €50k-350k) at the end of the project. We also expect that some of the ideas and teams will require a few months of time after the project before they become investment-ready. For those cases we can provide a lot of support through the community.

What do we do during the 10-week project?

There will be afterwork sessions, networking (i.e. team-building), workshops, coaching, homework and other stuff that helps you get closer to launching a startup.  Check out the agenda below. 

What is the timeline?

This is a 10 week program during March 15  - May 24, 2017.

Who else is there?

A group of 50 bright but diverse pre-founders who have four things in common:
they are still working at a day-job or have quit but have not yet started working on a specific startup
they have been working for 5+ years
they have been able to show that they are great at what they do
they are interested in to start or join an early-stage software-driven company.
Diversity plays an important role and you can expect to meet people who have different skills and industry experience. Some have background in software development or tech research whereas others are great in business development, marketing, design and other disciplines.
In addition there will be guest speakers who are all founders of software-driven startups and Icebreaker team members.

What do I know about the other participants before the start?

We guarantee that all the participants are individuals that we would want to see as founders in an investment presentation. If we don’t get enough participants with the right profile, we are not going to have this project. Once we have all the participants signed up, we’ll put them to a group in our digital platform. It’s like a closed Facebook group but with more information about the people than just relationship status.

How are the teams formed during the project? 

The best founder teams in software-driven startups usually have 2-4 diverse, complementing individuals. Everybody should bring something concrete to the table so that the team would have at least deep domain expertise together with product, business, leadership and recruiting skills. In addition there should be a shared vision and ambition level as well as good chemistry and trust.

You rarely find truly complementing team members among your friends and probably you shouldn’t even look from there. Make friends through business, but don’t make business through friends.

So the first step is to get out of the comfort zone and meet and talk with new people who have complementing skills and experiences. The second step is to do something (e.g. workshops) together. Finally, you keep talking and doing stuff together until you have what is needed. We facilitate these steps during (and after) the project. The rest is up to you. At the end of the day your future co-founder(s) can be found among the project participants or some participant introduces you to someone they know, or you find someone from our database. Or someone else finds you and reaches out.

Btw, we are going to discuss about the team-building in the 2nd afterwork session.

How can I join in?

Fill in the application here by Feb 25, 2017. Many of the participants are invited by us so we know the people somehow. We focus on getting a diverse group of brightest and nicest minds in place.

Who will coach me?

You will get coaching from the Icebreaker team, guest speakers (who are founders of software-driven startups) and last but not least: you will get tons of peer support from other program participants.

Can I participate even though I’m working ‘from nine to six’?

Yes. The agenda and content of the program is specifically designed for individuals who are (still) working at a day-job.

Can I participate if I don’t have a ready business idea?

Yes. If your goal is to find or develop your idea, this is the place to be. You may also find someone else’s idea that you want to start developing as a team.

What is the workload and required time commitment?

The program consists of the following elements:
6x afterwork sessions with the whole group, á 2,5 hours
6x lunches or beers with small groups of people, á 1 hour
6x homework tasks á 0,5 hours or more depending on your ambition level
So in total about 3 hours per week during 10 weeks.

It's ok if you miss 1-2 sessions. We know you might have to go on a trip or something. 


Where are the afterwork sessions?

At Maria 0-1. Former Maria hospital.

What’s the agenda of the afterwork sessions?

The 6x group afterwork sessions are theme-based focusing on the most relevant parts of starting software-driven startups. Each session has its own guest speaker addressing the topic using his or her own experiences. But really it's about you thinking about what you want to do and discussing that with others. You will be challenged to really think about your ideas and plans and will be given the tools to move them forward.

What’s with the homework?

During the afterwork sessions you will set goals to yourself and your peers. We mostly focus on designing/building products, talking to customers and building teams. For instance, one goal might be to find a complementing co-founder. A good homework would be getting introduced to potential co-founders and meeting them over a lunch or drinks. The group and our community will help you with that. If you don't know how to start building things you'll learn about that. If you don't know what you should be doing we'll help you with that. And so on. It will be amazing. It's true.

What happens after the project?

If everything goes well you'll continue working on your startup with an awesome team. Worst case you've learnt a lot, got new friends and know how to plan your startup. Our support does not end after the project. We commit to supporting you or your idea / team / startup through our community (and funding). 

What does it cost?

There are no participation fees. There's a restaurant and pizzeria at Maria so you can get a bite and something to drink. 

Why is Icebreaker doing something like this free-of-charge? 

We want invest in unique ideas and great teams.We are very happy with the results if we end up finding and making event one investment after the program. Even without the investments we are happy to get to know new people, to learn from them and help them move forward. There's a lot of work you can put in before actually starting your startup so that you start off right and we want to see more of those startups. 

Does Icebreaker have references from successfully organized Pre-Founder Projects?

Nope :) But we’ve seen that great results coming through a similar concept where a diverse group of bright minds are put together. And we do know what it is relevant for software-driven startups.