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 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 (?)