How many years have you been at Tech Nation?

I've been working on the Fintech programme at Tech Nation for two and a half years.

What's your backstory. How did you come to be where you're at today?

I moved to London 3 years ago after graduating from my Double Degree International Business Degree to work as an Analyst for the Finnish Embassy in London. My main duties were to advise Finnish tech companies who wanted to expand to the UK with market analysis, scoping, entry and provide necessary resources they required for the leap. Brexit had a major impact on the interest for Finnish companies and Tech Nation found me and I was offered a role on the Fintech Programme. I have worked with several fintechs at the Embassy and love how they are transforming an industry that is often seen as hierarchical, sticky and even unfair to the customer. Up to date I have had the pleasure to work with 100 scaling Fintech companies in the UK..

What has been your highlight of your career so far at Tech Nation?

I am driven by the impact - whether that is a dream partnership come through or a raise for a company to increase their headcount, the tangible impact we can make is the highlight of my every day. I love being in the forefront of seeing and meeting the up and coming tech companies - it is such a thing, exciting environment to be in.

What has been your lowlight whilst in your position?

The sad reality is that we can’t help all the companies out there - either they don’t know about us, we don’t have capacity on our programmes or timing isn’t right. If I had more hours in the day I would love to work with more companies.

How did you come across Landscape?

I have known of Landscape for a while - a colleague is a fellow. I have always thought it is such a brilliant idea and so helpful for the companies we work with day to day at Tech Nation. I have been lucky to meet the team at a few events as well, including the brilliant community meet-up you hosted in Manchester!.

Biggest challenge right now/thing you need help on:

The lack of sunlight - everyone just seems exhausted? Patiently waiting for all the Christmas.


What's the biggest mistake you’ve made so far and what did you learn from it?

I once worked at a job where my expectations of it were different from what the reality was. It was terrible and I was so unhappy but I tried to push through because I felt like I would fail if I didn’t. I got fired eventually because the job just wasn’t a match on either side. For a moment I was very upset but quickly realised it was the best thing to happen because I wouldn’t have ever left because I am so stubborn. I learned that it is OK to test out things and not everything will work out and that is totally fine - things will work out in the end.

What piece of advice would you give to other people in similar roles to you?

Passion is the key - this is not a role that you can do well if you don’t genuinely get excited and appreciate the companies you work with. That does tie into an advice that can be for anyone - trying to pretend something makes you excited if it doesn’t is not a way to go, it will just exhaust you. Find something you are truly passionate about and get yourself involved.

What is the most frustrating thing you find about the startup fundraising ecosystem?

Lack of honesty - companies getting dragged for a long time to fit a certain box and vice versa, investors being spoken to month after month when there isn’t a match. I understand sometimes situations can change but for early stage tech companies it is draining their resources.

What you would like to see change in the startup fundraising ecosystem within the next 5 years?

I would love to see the fundraising ecosystem come together even more in the future - we have such a thriving ecosystem, we need to all come together to flourish it!

Katja is the Fintech Programme Lead at Tech Nation. Her LinkedIn profile can be found here & her Twitter here.

Her email address is also katjapalovaara@technation.io
and she is happy to be contacted.