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OP Lab has been a part of Startup Weekends in Oulu since the very first of them that was held in April 2016. Throughout this almost two-year period OP Lab has had representatives in all of the Weekends as judges, speakers, mentors, and participants. We all know that the most important thing that can be asked is why. So what is the reason behind our love towards Startup Weekends? Let’s hear it from our experts.


“Mentoring at Startup Weekend has always been fun and educational. It has been great to notice how open minded and enthusiastic the teams are about their ideas. It is not so self evident when it comes to us Finns”, told Jussi Juntunen, service design lead at OP Lab and a 2-time mentor at Startup Weekend.


When it comes to the Startup Weekend experience itself, it is a no-brainer that even the most experienced people learn from something if they let the Startup Weekend spirit in.



“Often times the teams, with the help of mentors, have to think how to test an idea in practice fast and efficiently. Even though I already have experience in early-stage projects, during Startup Weekend you really have to put a lot of thought into what is the best way to test the idea and learn from the customers”, Jussi continues.


Over the years, several OP Lab’s employees have joined the weekends’ fun as participants, too. Anna-Leena Hetemäki, Junior Development Manager at OP Lab participated in February 2017, when she had just started to work at OP Lab.


“I had just started working at OP Lab, so I wasn’t really sure what my role would exactly be, nevertheless what Startup Weekends are all about. But when I got asked, I immediately agreed to join. The experience was intense and demanding, but it taught me a lot: in my job in OP Lab’s Discovery Team I had to have the courage publish products and services in a fast pace and as efficiently as possible, which is essentially the same thing we did in Startup Weekend”, Anna-Leena explains.


Needless to say, her experiences during the year 2017 in Startup Weekend and afterwards in Discovery Team have helped her career a lot: she also tells us that it is great to notice how you can get valuable customer feedback and develop early-stage products further – fast. Recently Anna-Leena started in a new position as a Junior Development Manager in OP Kevytyrittäjä.


One of the most experienced Startup Weekend goers is however the Head of OP Lab’s Discovery Team, Mats Kyyrö. Having participated in all of the Weekends as a mentor and given multiple speeches on fast iteration and lean service development, he has been contributing to the community a lot and in many ways. But what keeps him coming back?


“Startup Weekend is an event that is easily approachable, and one that teaches something to every single person that comes there”, Mats explains, “And it makes you feel okay about failing every once in a while. That is an important skill.”


It’s evident Startup Weekends have fulfilled their purpose when everyone leaves the event with a bunch of new ideas and learnings – it doesn’t matter whether you are a participant, mentor, judge, organizer, speaker or spectator. That is why we keep coming back.


So, see you again next weekend.

Team OP Lab


OP Lab is the innovation unit of OP Financial Group developing a range of services in the areas of health tech, mobility, living, commerce, and much more. Read more about OP Lab and its products from OP Lab website http://op-lab.fi.


Photo credit: Anton Jussila, Lasse Lehto

Elina Kaihua