Validation is the phase which too many new entrepreneurs will unfortunately skip. It separates the organized innovators from the just hopeful and enthusiastic ones. Validating your business idea basically means asking questions, considering your ideas, choosing the best and discussing about it with experts and potential customers.
Validation saves time and money. Usually the most useful question is whether the potential customer is willing and capable to pay for your service or product. Ideas are cheap. You must also ask yourself if you are willing and capable to produce the service or product. The goal of the validation process is to find out if the product is viable. And always you should remember to leave the building: go out and discuss your ideas.
Udgum Khadka – Marketing Team
My mindshift shifted from then.
I love travelling and meeting new people.
A secret favorite of mine is a Salmiakki cake. Salmiakki is a salty liquorice tasting candy which Finns love.
Favorite part about Oulu is the compact, amicable and supporting community.
The one special experience related to Startup Weekend is obviously when I participated and won the first ever Startup Weekend Oulu. My mindset shifted from then.
Top secret business idea is a business letting a person experience opposite gender’s life for some days or even weeks!
The team Edukate, now known as Melutek from Startup Weekend Oulu’s February 2017 edition, is two-months later happy to announce that their product is being tested in four locations around Oulu. Their stylish noise-detection and instantaneous reporting device was born within 54 hours and since then the progress has been fast. Melutek got a boost as they won Kielo Growth’s hardware track prize from Startup Weekend Oulu which awarded them with coworking space and mentoring from the hardware experts at Kielo.
We sat down for a chat with the team to catch up.
Why did you decide to join Startup Weekend?
One of our teammates had heard about Startup Weekend from his friend and persuaded the rest of us to join. School was winding down and we knew we would now have some free time and we really wanted to start some new project. Startup Weekend seemed like a good way to kickstart something new. Before the event we were brainstorming for new ideas, and settled on an idea for measuring the sound level in a room.
What happened at Startup Weekend?
We got there, and were excited to meet new people and liked the atmosphere instantly. We didn’t really know what to expect, and we were really nervous about sharing our idea. Luckily Henkka was brave enough to pitch, and he went in front of the 70 people to share it. Even though there were like 30 ideas, our idea was voted on to continue. We got a few more team members to join our team and we got started.
We started brainstorming potential uses for it, and realized fast that we need to find a target audience and figure out if there is any demand for it. If we would have made just a general gadget, maybe no one would have needed it. Soon we realized that classrooms could really use a device like this.
We wanted to physically build the product, and so we divided our team roles well. 2 focused on the business and 3 on the product. One of the mentors even brought cables for us to attach to Arduino because otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten it done. The premises in the Fingersoft building were incredible since there was space to weld.
On Sunday night, 44 hours after starting the work, we were already pitching to investors and the audience. However, two hours before the pitch we were missing some crucial cables. Luckily Tuomas found two old mouses from the trash and we turned those into a potentiometer and the cable for the push button.
We knew that we needed to wow the jury, and so we had to fake how our product works. As it was the Startup Weekend right before Polar Bear Pitching, the whole SW had been using the bear roar to energize the group. In the middle of our pitch we asked for the group to roar, and wanted our noise detector to react to it. We were missing the microphone, so during the roar we faked and put the readings in ourselves 😀 Fake it till you make it, right? Now it works naturally of course.
What happened after Startup Weekend?
We won the Kielo prize from Ari Takanen, and thus we got coworking and mentoring from the Kielo Hardware Incubator. This was an amazing opportunity to be surrounded by so many great businesses who were also building new products, and were able to give us so much advice! Without them we wouldn’t even be where we are now. Also having one common location for us to meet up was important.
One guy we actually met at Kielo became excited about our idea and funded our prototypes so that we could do more testing and validation. We’ve really gotten to experience the startup life, sometimes working until 5 AM because of a deadline, and we love it!
Now we have summer jobs and need to focus on those. But it’s good that now our products are visible in five different locations around Oulu and are being tested. You can see it in Tellus, OP Lab, OAMK, Oulun nuorten työpaja, and in Touhula daycare center. We need the valuable information from testing to be able to further develop our product.
When we brought our noise detector to the daycare center, they loved it so much that they asked us to bring them another one since they had two groups and the other group was jealous. They had had a manual cardboard version trying to achieve the same thing and were super happy for a digital one, and asked what would the price for this be.
Any tips or advice for others who are considering if they should join Startup Weekend?
Just go! And really don’t worry about it being in English. Startup Weekend being in English was actually a really good way to learn it more since nobody cares how good your English is! Go there, meet new people and have fun while learning! SW is also the place to be even for building hardware projects. Also do go to SW as soon as possible, our only regret is that we didn’t go sooner.
In the Melutek team now:
The event metrics, winning teams, and a sincere thank you from us!
By Lien Cao & Bao Hoang
This is the 8th time that Startup Weekend Helsinki is organized, and the 10th time in Finland. This time, Startup Weekend Helsinki took a while to come back, and when we came back after 8 months, we brought along a special theme: Food and Agriculture! There are some metric facts you may want to know from us.
- Startup Weekend Helsinki VIII happened from 27th to 29th January 2017, attracted 57 attendees, 19 mentors, and 9 sponsors.
- It was organized and coordinated by 5 organizers, 2 volunteers, and 1 facilitator.
- There were 17 ideas pitched, with 11 teams formed.
Our teams did their work extremely well during the weekend, and among them, there were 4 stand-out teams which were recognized by the judges.
I. The best pitch: Tofu Queen
Tofu Queen is a small team of three, and interestingly enough: one of them doesn’t like tofu at all, or at least the type of tofu she had tried in Finland. Katja is her name, and she was the one who went to pitch for the team in the final presentation. “Why did you join a team about tofu when you don’t even like it?” Katja smiled, she liked the idea, and she wanted to try fresh tofu in Helsinki one day, so she decided to contribute to the team.
On Sunday, the pitch order list was kept as a secret from everybody, until the last minute before the presentations started. And surprisingly, Tofu Queen was the first name in the list! “We didn’t expect to be the first one at all.” – shared Viet Dung Nguyen – the idea owner. Despite feeling worried as the first team on stage, Katja stepped up and started a structured, straightforward presentation with a clear and loud voice. She had done a great job to point out all needed factors for the business idea, well kept within the time limit. Congratulations Tofu Queen! We hope you will continue to work on your startup idea after the event so we all can try the “fresh, soft and silky tofu” you promised in the presentation!
II. Runner-up 1: Caulizza
The first time you heard the name, you may be confused: “What is Caulizza? Why does it sound familiar, but yet so strange at the same time?”. Caulizza is the combination of “Cauliflower” and “Pizza”, which is a creative way to describe a pizza made with cauliflower instead of normal flour. Caulizza is a good option for people who are allergic to gluten, and who would love to enjoy pizza but want to skip the carbs. More than that, Caulizza is a convenient and tasty way to eat more vegetables. To prove its possibility, Caulizza team even made a sample of pizza base themselves and brought it to the presentation.
One concern for Caulizza came from the price of the product itself since normal pizza base made from flour is easily found everywhere with low prices, yet Caulizza’s pizza base made from cauliflower costs much higher. Moreover, being a vegetable makes cauliflower seasonally available, which raised up a question for its availability. In order to clear out these concerns, Caulizza went out to ask customers about how much they are willing to pay for the products, and the result was positive: the average price range is 8-10 euros per two pizza based. Potential customers considered Caulizza as a healthier substitute comparing to normal pizza, therefore they can pay much more for this product. About cauliflower availability, the team showed their confidence in finding the cauliflower supply all year round in warmer region of Europe with reasonable price.
Hopefully, in the near future, we shall have the chance to see Caulizza being sold firstly in Finland markets. Who knows, it can be the next trend of food in Finland after pulled-oats that everybody will talk about!
III. Runner-up 2: Forest Pig
Forest Pig idea owners are experienced farmers of a family who have long kept the agricultural tradition. They are passionate with a brilliant idea: an ecological and economical type of pork with a remarkable taste. Within the weekend, the Forest Pig team worked hard to create a pig breeding model which utilizes natural Finnish features. The pigs shall be raised for a longer time in a natural habitat, which helps to develop its meat texture and flavor.
Answering a concern from audiences about the effect to nature in their breeding model, team Forest Pig believes that with their experiences in farming, the model shall not damage the environment. With the market price around 18 euros per kg, their first target customer sector is restaurant industry. As a fact, high-end restaurants are willing to pay more money for a premium product with significant taste. After it, Forest Pig hopes to reach to other local markets.
Forest Pig’s expected product received a lot of love from the judges and audience, who all claimed to buy the products when released. Wish the team all the best in their business road to bring premium and ethical products to customers.
IV. Winner team: Kitchen Hotel!
You have been dreaming about your own catering services, but struggle to build a professional kitchen? What are you going to do when this limitation will just disappear, since you can rent a kitchen with reasonable prices to cover all your needs? Kitchen Hotel idea’s is building one large space where they can fit several kitchens, or in another words: a kitchen hotel. This shall help solve the problem with the lack of affordable kitchen space in cities and reduce the time and initial cost of establishing a catering restaurant (establishment cost approx. €85K and daily variable cost €300/day– according to research from the team). Nowadays, a new trend is emerging where a lot of restaurants do not have dining areas, which only do straight delivery from kitchen. So Kitchen Hotel targets customers which are catering businesses and new restaurant entrepreneurs but also current restaurants focused in take away and delivery food in Helsinki.
During the weekend, the team had troubles forming a solid and profitable business plan. However, with the help of several mentors and caterer businesses, they overcame it by totally flipping their rental strategy and opting for high utilization rate. They are aiming to establish one large kitchen facility with 6-10 kitchens in Helsinki city, and then expanding to more cities in Nordic area.
The team consists of Joonas Jämsä whose field is in property law services, Roope Karjalainen who has worked already several years in capacity optimization. Kasimir Kaitue, previously founder of a marketplace startup and experience in business development, innovations and future. With a balancing team. Kitchen Hotel is having a promising business future!
Thank you all for contributing to a successful Startup Weekend Helsinki Food! Wish you all the best with your startups and careers!
by Bao Hoang Quoc & Sheila Riikonen
Some random facts to prove that at Startup Weekend Helsinki, we give you the tools to succeed in your entrepreneurial ambition and provide you the tools, networks, and platforms to achieve your goals.Click To Tweet
Continues with more info later! Stay tuned!
Startup Weekend Helsinki Food kickstarted at 4 pm on Friday, 27th Jan 2017. Big thanks to Paulig, Nordic Law, MTK, Sitra, Founder Institute Finland, StickerGiant, Valio, and EAFRD for sponsoring this event.
Learning from Paulig’s Clear Strategy and Vision
The first speaker of Friday 27th is Erica Liewendahl, the Manager, Group Strategy Development of Paulig Group. Erica has worked with Finance, Business development and M&A over 15 years in various industries in Finland, Sweden and Germany. During the past three years, she has been leading Paulig Group Strategy Development and has been involved in all acquisition and divestments in the Group – where the acquisition of Gold & Green is the latest one. She has been involved with setting a clear Strategy and Vision for the Group as well as creating supporting processes to enable implementation. As her passion is innovation for future growth and she likes to get her hands dirty, she has also been leading radical projects like Paulig Muki.
Legal counseling worth of 1000 e for the winner team from Nordic Law
Our partner Nordic Law offers Quality-driven and affordable #legal services for #startups! Have you seen that our partner Nordic Law offers as a value promise fixed priced service packages Nordic Law in Helsinki, as a partner of Startup Weekend Helsinki edition VII
Our partner Nordic Law offers Quality-driven and affordable #legal services for #startups! Have you seen that our partner Nordic Law offers as a value promise fixed priced service packages Nordic Law in Helsinki, as a partner of Startup Weekend Helsinki edition VII offers lean and agile law firm providing extraordinary value for early- and growth-stage startups. Their philosophy regarding the legal advising of startups is based on specialized knowledge and fixed priced service packages.
Startup Weekend Helsinki mentors are industry leaders
Matti Copeland is here again at #SW2017 #swhelsinkifood to be our judge and mentor throughout the event. Matti Copeland is a Growth Accelerator and a curious leader, currently working as an Executive Director of EY. He has worked for over 30 years in helping companies and teams grow and especially aligning their stories to match with investor demands. He has been assisting Startup Weekend in several events and it is such an honor to have his support here once more time.
We are also grateful to have Jernej Dekleva as a facilitator for the whole #SW2017 #StartupWeekendHelsinki. Jernej is originally from Slovenia and has been living in Copenhagen, Denmark for his last 5 years. He is a COO of Valuer – a marketplace with data driven and automatic matchmaking process between corporates/investors and validated early stage startups. He attended his first Startup Weekend in 2012 and he is an organizer of Startup Weekend Copenhagen since 2014. He flew all the way from Copenhagen to support and assist the organizing team for the whole weekend.
Some random facts to prove that at Startup Weekend Helsinki, we are able to fulfill all your food desires and provide you much more:
Food and agribusiness are the main themes of #swhelsinkifood this year and we have tried our best to deliver the most innovative and surprising food combinations to our participants. Throughout the 3 day event, our cooperated supplier has been providing much help and high-quality restaurant food to please all.
By: Christoph Hartling, Lendy, the Winner of Startup Weekend Fall 2016
It is almost exactly three months ago, when I made myself on the way to the city center of Oulu to participate in the Startup Weekend. Up to that point, I didn´t really know what was expecting me at the Startup Weekend Oulu, the only thing that was running through my mind was, that we somehow had to create a company within 54 hours!
When I arrived at the Business Kitchen venue, I was warmly welcomed and suddenly surrounded by dozens of young and likeminded people. Shortly after, the pitching started and I was impressed about the wide variety of different ideas, but also curious about how these ideas will develop during the Startup Weekend. After that, everything went really quick, we formed a team of four enthusiastic students and lost no time working on our business idea.
Even though, most of our team members had never participated in such a startup event before, we never felt lost or uncertain about our next steps. I can fairly say, that this was mainly through the great support of the Startup Weekend mentors.
- We got our own office space.
- We launched our first website.
- We found our first customers and early adopters.
- We worked together and got supported by Finland’s biggest bank ─ OP Financial Group.
- We went to Europe´s Leading Startup Event – Slush.
I guess answering the question, if it was worth participating at Startup Weekend Oulu is unnecessary, even if you have only read the last few sentences!
Interviewed by: Martin Andrle
A designer is usually a “jack-of-all-trades” who does not only understand the importance of customer experience, but also knows marketing, code and products. They are an indispensable part of startups but many times, because of their broad responsibilities, it’s difficult to comprehend what it is that they do. That is why we took a moment to talk with Charlota Blunárová, visual communications intern at IDEO, to understand the role of designers in teams.
- Charlota, thanks again for giving us the possibility to catch up with you and introduce your wonderful life story with the Startup Weekend community.
As long as I know you made incredible shift from being a photographer and illustrator to become a multidisciplinary designer, currently interning at IDEO, one of the best design companies in the world. On that way from Brno you stopped by in Pearlfisher, London, another world class agency. Could you tell us how all these things happened?
Well, my background is an industrial design. I’ve always been interested in relationships between people and objects and I thought studying industrial design would be interdisciplinary enough to keep my curiosity satisfied… But along the way I fell in love with all things visual, started freelancing as a graphic designer, then I started my business as a wedding photographer. This year has been pretty busy so far – I decided to make it sort of my gap year, but dedicated to learning. I’m doing rounds as an intern in different countries, to learn and experience as much as possible about design culture and how to become a better designer. At Pearlfisher London I worked mainly as a 3D designer, I did a lot of packaging design, at Q Designers I was half a graphic designer, half a product designer. Right now I am a visual communications intern at IDEO, an amazing place which allows me to to continue questioning the world as it is today and designing for what the future can be. So, long story short, right now I would call myself a designer-generalist.
- Who is a designer for you? How would you define her role in teams/projects and are there any desirable skills?
The specific skills of actual jobs may vary by different field, but I think the work of designers share many essential features. The designer must be capable of receiving the most important information from his teammates, such as engineers or marketers, and make decision upon them. It’s a collaborative role, there is no such a thing as a work in isolation. Also I believe where the magic happen is a team where everyone thinks a bit like a designer, collaborate, share their knowledge and expertise and are included in all parts of a design process.
- I simply love the statement from your website. “I design because I have a desire to create products and experiences that impact people’s lives positively and resonate emotionally”. What does that mean for you? Are you following it in your design process or how does it influence your design?
I simply want to create meaningful work. I try to choose projects based on positive impact they can make. I’ve worked on a large variety of projects in the past, and I’ve always tried to fit into one of these boxes: to be a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator… At some point I realized that I don’t aim for an exact job title or expertise. I’d rather be a generalist with a skillset I can bend for each project, but I always want be confident that we create something valuable and useful.
- What kind of questions one should ask when she is creating a new product and ultimately a new business?
I would say, aim to create products/service desirable by people, feasible to produce, and viable as a business. I believe it is about balancing of desirability: do they want this?
Feasibility: can we do this?, and viability: should we do this?.
What problem will this help to solve? Will this solution fill a need? Will it fit into people’s lives? Is the technology needed to power the design solution available? Who will pay for this and why? The most basic questions, but also the hardest ones.
- You have experienced working in startup and to say it publicly pretty successfully. You ended up on 2nd place in one of the Czech accelerator with your game design studio. Could you tell us more about this experience?
I joined a start-up focused on gamification right after high school. It was a big learning experience – I have had an unique opportunity to work with team of talented, smart, hard-working people and got my hands-on some interesting projects for several companies in scopes of design, consultancy or even full-scale solution. At that time I didn’t know much about anything, and I this accelerated my will to adapt to a fast paced environment and learn quickly.
- Perhaps little bit silly question but what advice would you give to younger yourself? Except attending the startup weekend of course.
I always used the sentence “I’ve never done this before.” as an excuse. Now I use it rather as a opportunity to actually face the unknown and try something new. Wish I’ve had this attitude sooner! Also, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, they are learning opportunities. Being afraid to make them is like being afraid to learn something new.
Thank you Charlota!
Designers, use the promo code: welovedesigners to get a discount for your Startup Weekend Oulu ticket!
By Marjaana Annala, Go Swap It, the Winner of Startup Weekend Oulu Spring 2016
Whenever someone asks me what Startup Weekend was like, I always have difficulties answering to it in a short way. To me, and I believe to many others as well, it meant a weekend where you totally step out of your comfort zone and do things you never thought were possible before. So how do you explain everything that happened, or everything that lead there, in a couple of sentences?
My best variable so far is this.
After a lot of pondering, I went there with an innocent idea that was a result of a 3-minute conversation with a friend a few months earlier (“Hey you know what would be cool?” “Oh yes that WOULD be cool!”) but no actual clue of what I should do with it. Truth be told, I still had no idea what I was going to do when I got there. To pitch or to not pitch my idea? I was extremely scared of even the mere idea of that.
I also did not have any idea of what I should do during the weekend – or how to do any of the things I should do. Complicated, huh? But shortly after I arrived I realized that it is perfectly fine, because on top of unlimited coffee and food, what was offered was unlimited support.
So I guess what happened was that a bunch of genius minds got together, were inspired by the same idea, joined forces and started working. No talk, all action, they said. And it truly was just that. All you really need to do is stop thinking, roll up your sleeves and start working.
Five months later?
I have my own company with the same awesome people I met at Startup Weekend.
I have pretty much my dream job.
I also have at least some kind of an idea what I’m doing.
As icing on the cake – and most importantly – a whole lot of new, amazing people in my life.
That is the beauty of Startup Weekend.
By Simo Kekäläinen
Three physicists meet a business guy and ….
Now you might think this is the beginning of a really good joke or a scene from Big Bang Theory but believe me, to see what happens next you don’t need to go to Reddit or to your TV screens – just take a bus to city centre.
Six months ago I found myself in a place called Business Kitchen taking part in the first-ever Startup Weekend Oulu. The room was crowded with people who were given a simple task – present or join somebody who’s presenting an idea, build it into business in 54 hours and have fun!
Well a couple of hours later, after hearing dozens of pitches and after people had voted for the top 12 ideas, I was feeling really puzzled (and honestly thought about going home) since none of those ideas really struck a chord with me. But then I saw these two guys looking for people to join their idea, which was about turning the unused potential of smart phones into raw calculating power.
We chatted for a while and since the idea wasn’t one of the audience’s top picks we decided to ask the organizers if we could form a “shadow” team and enter the competition. And this is what happened next:
30 seconds later our team of three physicists and one business guy was already busy building a business and racing against time.
48 hours later we were pitching our idea on stage.
49.125 hours later, out of 13 teams, we were announced as the runner-ups of the weekend!
3600 hours later we have an office, a startup called Piecewise and an objective to deliver our first working product within two months.
Startup Weekend is like life in a nutshell. Not only do you get to meet, work, eat great food, (and most importantly) have fun with wonderful people from different backgrounds and cultures, BUT you also realize nothing is impossible.
If there’s one lesson Startup Weekend teaches you, it’s that with the right amount of determination, perseverance and support from great people around, you can do whatever you want in life.
And that’s a lesson we at Piecewise believe everyone should learn, and there’s no better place to do it than in Startup Weekend Oulu. Hope to see you there!
The End (?)
Nordic Law is a proud partner of Startup Weekend Helsinki edition VII. We at Nordic Law are thrilled; that said, the opportunity has been offered to us as we are very active within the vibrant Finnish startup culture. Yes, you noticed correctly – we are talking about the vibrant Finnish startup culture – as a startup-orientated law firm we have during the last few years seen a rapid change in the Finnish startup scene, whereby we are of the view that a very exciting startup culture has emerged also in Finland – a country that has been labelled as the sick man of Europe due to the challenges its public economy is currently facing. We would, however, dare to say that Finland is more like the startup center of Northern Europe and the local startup scene is ever-blooming.
We at Nordic Law are also one of the few law firms in Finland with a special focus on early- and growth-stage startups with services ranging from assisting in the founding stage all the way to financing rounds, the expansion of the startup and the exit of the founding partners.
We have experienced a conscious shift during the last few years from the traditional SME clients to startup clients of all size, whereby our main goal is to provide extraordinary surplus value for startups by using innovative solutions combined with specialized knowledge and fixed priced service packages. Our aim is to assist startups during their whole life span, whereby we are always primarily seeking for long-term business relationships, in which the lawyer-client relationship is built slow and steady. We like to compare the business relationships with our startup clients to a marathon, not a 100 meter sprint.
Since the year 2014 Nordic Law has consciously started to focus more on startups as we see an enormous potential regarding the Finnish startup scene. However, we have unfortunately noticed that the legal services, which currently are offered to startups, do not go hand-in-hand with the emerging Finnish startup scene and digitalization, whereby there has not been a single startup-orientated law firm prior to Nordic Law. Besides us, the bigger law firms are naturally very interested in the Finnish startup scene, whereby said firms are offering legal services especially to growth-stage startups, but at what price? Bigger law firms offer legal services mainly based on the `oh-so´ traditional hourly fee without taking due consideration to the finite financial resources of startups, especially regarding early-stage startups.
We at Nordic Law on the other hand have taken the Finnish legal bull by its horns, whereby we have started to tackle the traditional legal invoicing structure which currently is offered to startups by the mainstream bigger law firms. Thus we have thrown aside the old-world invoicing structure where clients are invoiced per the hour, whereby instead we have taken a more agile and risk sharing approach to the invoicing structure regarding legal services offered to startups. Our decision is based on the fact that all startups, no matter of their size, should be entitled to all-encompassing legal services for a fixed and predictable price. Law firms should not select their startup clientele based on the development stage of the startup, but unfortunately many startups out there are either left without much needed legal service or they are offered legal services for a very hefty price. Hence there is an immense need for a disruption regarding the Finnish market for legal services and we at Nordic Law are very glad to act as a disruptor.
Taking into consideration all the above mentioned, it was a no-brainer for us to partner up with Startup Week Helsinki, where we get to take part in, and most important – be a part of, the dynamic Finnish startup ecosystem. For us the partnership with Startup Week Helsinki is not about getting new clients – the major factor for us is to connect and discuss with all the various Finnish startup players (if you will). If we end up getting new startup clients, it’s a complimentary, not a compulsory, addition.
Lastly, as a partner of Startup Weekend Helsinki, fellow Nordic Lawers may be found during the up-coming Startup Week Helsinki both on Saturday and Sunday. Nordic Law will also provide prizes for the three winning teams in terms of amount of hours of free legal counselling. The prizes are divided in 2.000 euro for the 1st team, 1.500 euro for the 2nd team and 1.000 euro for the 3rd team.
Without further ado, we look forward to meeting inspiring and fresh startups during the up-coming weekend. Please don’t hesitate to come and talk to our people at the event, remember we are there for you!
Jon Hautamäki, Nordic Law
The author of this blog post is a partner at Nordic Law and an avid disruptor of the Finnish legal market.