Anastasia Shiverskikh – Finance and Sponsors
“I want to create a portable sun for the long Finnish winters.”
I am passionate about music and love seeing artists perform live.
The secret favorite song of mine is Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley, but don’t tell anyone.
The best about Oulu is that it has everything one would need for comfortable living. You get nature, opportunities for professional development, fun events to attend and nice places to go out.
I had a special experience related to Startup Weekend when I participated it about a year ago and the first day of the event was on my birthday.
Top secret business idea of mine is to create a portable sun for the long Finnish winters.
Launching the MVP is basically testing your hypothesis fast and cheap. The minimum viable product has just enough features to satisfy the early customers. You’ll get customer feedback fast and you’ll find out if the product is market fit. The feedback of the MVP tells you if the problem you’re solving is big enough and the solution you’re offering is good enough. And when we say viable, we mean saleable.
Elina Kaihua – Member of the Marketing Team
I’ve planned a robot that pours coffee into one’s mouth before the person is fully awake.
I love to do planning and create lists. I also love to go for a coffee and shopping. It’s a shame that I don’t love jogging because it really could enhance my life.
I secretly live like an average grandma. I love knitting and watching cake decoration clips on Instagram. I like to do scrapbooks and go to bed early.
I really love to sniff puppies. They have such a sweet scent.
The best thing in Oulu is to go to the market square in summer.
I’ve had lots of inspiring Startup Weekend experiences but it always sticks into mind when it’s time to go for the final pitch in front of the judges, and the most nervous ones manage to deliver the greatest pitches ever!
Top Secret business idea of mine is the morning robot. I’ve planned a robot that pours coffee into one’s mouth before the person is fully awake. And of course the robot cooks the coffee first. And takes the dog out in the morning. The robot also performs a professional neck massage when ordered.
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:
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 (?)