Last week our CEO, Mikko Välimäki, shared his entrepreneurial journey at Startup Sauna, a non-profit early-stage startup accelerator based in Finland. You can check out this featured post to learn some of the details Mikko shared with the teams he coached.

Launched in 2010, Startup Sauna is a unique one-month program that helps startups find their focus, close their first customer, or get their first round of funding – all for free.

Unlike other accelerators around the world, Startup Sauna does not charge fees or take equity from the companies attending. Instead, the program heavily relies on the Finnish startup community, drawing on resources from the ecosystem to offer free coaching, one-on-one mentoring, hands-on help, and valuable introductions.

Sounds like a Nordic utopia? Think again: over 173 companies have gone through the program since its launch, many of them raising funding shortly after graduating from the accelerator. However, getting into the program is the tricky part. This spring, out of 700+ applicants, only 14 teams got accepted. In other words, you have higher chances of getting into an Ivy League school than into Startup Sauna.

The current batch comes from eight different countries, including Lebanon, Korea, Hong Kong, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia. Most of the teams are building products and services in the business-to-business segment, combining software and hardware development.

The program puts a lot of emphasis on pitching. “It’s a good way to make the teams justify their actions,” explains Kasper Suomalainen, Captain and COO at Startup Sauna. “When you explain to others what you are doing and why, it helps crystallize the business and further develop it based on gaps that are inevitably revealed through pitching.”

What teams and products will come out of this batch graduates? We’ll have to wait for Startup Sauna’s Demo Day – June 2nd at Arctic15 – to find out.

Here’s a breakdown of this spring’s teams’ demographic.

Sauna2016 inforgraphic