Startup Weekend, a breath of fresh air – OP Lab

“Startup Weekend is a breath of fresh air: it is one of those events where you can really sense the innovation and identify the top talent from the rest. We’ve enjoyed every single opportunity that we’ve had in working together with Startup Weekend. As a results, we’ve recruited new people to OP Lab from pretty much every batch.”
– Kristian Luoma, Head of OP Lab

OP Lab’s crew has been taking part in already four Startup Weekends in Finland in the past 2 years. The reason for this is pure and simple: Startup Weekends allow us to best collaborate with local communities and take action while focusing on the most important resource there is – talent.

We are always working hard to find the best talent and getting them onboard to face the exciting future of the financial sector and innovation with us. What could be a better way to locate this talent, if not an intense weekend full of challenges such as Startup Weekend? The phases and intensity of the weekend tends to bring out the best of people, and this is something that we believe will truly make the difference in the future.

We at OP Lab also believe that collaboration plays a key role in development. In the past years OP Financial Group has transformed to a diversified services company. To best continue meeting and exceeding our customer’s needs we are partnering up not only with the best talent but also with the greatest startups out there to create new products and services in a range of fields. Startup Weekends all around are a great representation of collaboration – during these 54 hours, makers and doers from different backgrounds in different industries come together to collaborate in order to steer the path for future innovations. This is what we at the heart of OP’s new innovation strive to do as well.

So – prepare to pitch your great idea, gather a great team around you and iterate your ideas into concrete prototypes. This way you’ll not only be impressing the judges and other participants, but most importantly yourself. We are looking forward to yet another thrilling and fulfilling Startup Weekend experience – and to meet all of you, of course!

See you in Tampere on the 2nd of March and best of luck,

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.

How I get to use my entrepreneurial skills at Stora Enso – Mea Mäkijärvi

Forest industry doesn’t usually fit in the same sentence with entrepreneurship and innovation, or what do you think? Many see the companies in forestry as big, slow and old fashioned. If you keep reading this blog post I hope to change this view.

As our CEO said in one of our all employee calls, even elephants can learn to dance.

When curiosity wins

I’ve always been interested in understanding how and why people behave the way they do. Thinking about it now I should’ve probably studied psychology. But I ended up studying marketing instead. At some point, I felt that my curious nature would actually be best utilized when coming up with new ventures and I ended up doing my Master’s in entrepreneurship. I truly loved the inspiring atmosphere in my studies, the passion of founders we got to meet, the crazy ideation sessions, late nights perfecting pitches and slide decks while having fun working with people from various backgrounds.

Baby steps but in the right direction

Upon graduation, my marketing background helped me to secure my first jobs and I had to lay my entrepreneurial spirit to rest for a bit at first. I joined Stora Enso, a leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper on global markets, through the GROW trainee program and started learning exciting things about renewable materials and how we source our raw material in Finland. During the past 2.5 years with the company our strategic direction has changed to have a strong focus on innovation and customer orientation. It is clear we need new competences, talent and partners to make it happen.

As our CEO said in one of our all employee calls, even elephants can learn to dance. Stora Enso might be in the beginning of its entrepreneurial journey but in my opinion definitely headed in the right direction:

  • In Stora Enso Accelerator program our employees work together with startups that are active in areas which are important to our future. The aim is to collaborate with the right startups, to improve our understanding of new technologies and to learn lean and quick ways to innovate.
  • We have held our first open innovation challenge #HackThePack with Industryhack a year ago. Eight teams worked on digital solutions that would increase the transparency of our value chain from forest to product.
  • Currently we have partnered up with Kone, Combient and Vertical to get some new perspectives and solutions from startups to defined business challenges. Startups can apply until February 28th (go check out Combient Foundry’s website for more info and the application link)!

When the time is right

In my new position as Innovation Manager for Wood Supply Finland I get to drive lean startup, design thinking and service design among other innovation methods into our everyday life and operations. My aim is to build and foster an innovative culture in my organization that offers good grounds to innovate for both our employees as well as external stakeholders such as startups, customers and other partners. Together we can make great things happen for a more renewable future!

Looking forward to seeing you all in the beginning of March. And in the meanwhile, go see “What a tree can do” at our website.

Mea Mäkijärvi, Innovation Manager, Wood Supply Finland, Stora Enso

How was Startup Weekend – Elisa

In this series we get to know the team members behind Startup Weekend Tampere and their experiences in previous Startup Weekends they have attended. This is Elisa’s story about attending Startup Weekend in Turku in the fall of 2017.

Hello there! Interested in startups and entrepreneurship? Startup Weekend is a perfect opportunity to experience what it is all about in just 54 hours!

My first Startup Weekend experience took me all the way to Turku. I have dreamed of starting my own company for a couple of years but I still had not found the perfect idea. Or had the necessary push element it seems!

I had my idea on the same day that I pitched it in Turku. I had been following the discussion about whether sexual harassment is a problem also in Finland and the engineering half of me started to ponder:

“A lot of talk, but how to solve this with data?”

A little hint, concentrate on the problem you want to solve and don’t love your original concept too much. It will surely change!

On Friday I pitched the idea of gathering data of sexual harassment based on location from anyone with an app. During the weekend this idea developed further into a reporting system which could make it easier for employees to report about incidents which have made them feel uncomfortable.

The development during the weekend was fast-paced with the coaching of the amazing mentors and 3 validation rounds at the local Shopping mall. With an app prototyping tool named Hotgloo we even built a really simple interface for our app in order to test it out.

On Sunday we were sitting nervous in our seats waiting for our turn to pitch. Just when I was finalizing our slides I got the news. Kauppalehti, a Finnish business magazine, had just published an article where two experts had just said that we need anonymous reporting tools to tackle sexual harassment in Finland. Talk about perfect timing!

Everything had fallen perfectly in place and we won the Startup Weekend, receiving 4 months of office space in Turku and Polar Bear Pitching tickets as a prize! However, the most important prizes from the weekend were the people that you meet. People who are like-minded, creative and supportive.

In case you have ever thought about either starting your company or working in a startup, mark 2-4.3.2018 in your calendar and buy a ticket to the first ever Startup Weekend Tampere! I will welcome you there with our amazing team of organizers from Y-kampus, Tampere ES and Tribe Tampere.

Send us a message on Facebook to Startup Weekend Tampere if you have any questions or doubts whatsoever!



Elisa is part of the team organizing Startup Weekend Tampere in March 2018.

How was Startup Weekend – Aino

In this series we get to know the team members behind Startup Weekend Tampere and their experiences in previous Startup Weekends they have attended.

Who are you?

I am Aino. I graduated last year from the University of Tampere and have now been working at Tampere University of Technology entrepreneurship and innovation services, Y-kampus, for almost a year.

Among Startup Weekend participants I would probably fall into the category of designers as I do graphic design and photography in my free time. I could also fall into the “other” category since I studied law and business. Anyway this event is not all about these categories, but mixing different skills and backgrounds together so that’s what they are mostly for.

What is your role in organizing Startup Weekend Tampere?

My responsibility in creating this event is mostly marketing and marketing materials. Peace.

Have you attended a Startup Weekend before? When and where?

I attended Startup Weekend in Oulu about a one year ago. I participated just for fun, I had nothing to do that weekend so I bought the ticket after reading some stuff about the event and then went to learn something new and meet new people. “Creating a startup in 54 hours. Eat, sleep, create, repeat. No talk, all action.” Sold!

What was your experience like in Startup Weekend?

The event was just great. We formed a team and worked our project called “Rack”. It was a mobile application to trade your unboxed clothing and we actually came in second if I remember correctly. We even went out to ask people what they think about this idea and our MVP. I learned so much in one weekend about building a business.

Have you continued working with the project that you worked on in Startup Weekend and/or the people you met there after the event? How?

We have been in touch and some of us have had meetings after. Anyway continuing the project was the intention because we were very excited about our idea but it was challenging with everyone living in different cities.

What do you think was the biggest benefit you got from attending Startup Weekend? What did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed the teamwork and doing the best we could in short amount of time. I really enjoyed working hard with my team and also getting to know other teams and people. After all I went to Oulu and I knew literally no-one from there in the beginning.

Also a big thing was that our team had so much different people also from different countries: one university researcher, students, one high school student and people working for different companies. We had so much to learn from each other.  

Why do you want to bring Startup Weekend to Tampere?

Immediately after the event I thought this has to be brought to Tampere, because I had a really good and educational experience in Oulu (and also because even Turku has Startup Weekend now, but we don’t). Startup community is growing fast in Tampere so this is the best time to attend and meet amazing new people with different backgrounds!

For whom would you recommend attending Startup Weekend Tampere?

I recommend this event to anyone with an idea to test or anyone without an idea who wants to simply meet new people, learn many things, eat and use their weekend for creating something new.

I also recommend this specifically to designers who want to get more experience in creating fast mockups or designs in a very short amount of time or otherwise want to try working in a startup team for a while. Great way to present your work to people and also test your skills!

Aino is part of the team organizing Startup Weekend Tampere in March 2018.