The autumn term's Laurea Startup study entity culminated once again in mid-November, when the students involved pitched their own business ideas. This time, the final pitching event was held on the Helsinki premises of Microsoft Flux at Korkeavuorenkatu.
The students presented their business ideas in front of an expert jury, which evaluated the content and novelty value of the ideas, as well as the actual sales pitch. The experts in the jury were Auri Evokari from Helsinki Think Company, Anna Grinberg from LaureaES and Oki Tåg from Laurea’s Spinno business incubator. The expert jury also provided advice to the student on how to further refine their ideas.
The business ideas presented by the students included a novel hostel concept, second-hand car sales in Ethiopia, and mobile applications for purposes ranging from life management and child care to physiotherapy.
Entrepreneurship path begins with an idea
The Laurea Startup study entity, part of entrepreneurship studies, is offered each semester. The entrepreneurship path is built one step at a time, and the first phase is the 5-credit Idea Startup study unit.
- The aim of Idea Startup is that each student would join the study unit with an individual business idea, which will then be developed further, say senior lecturers Päivi Harmoinen and Jouni Takala, who acted as instructors of the study unit.
In the Idea stage, the focus is on the development of customer insight, and the identification and analysis of customers’ needs. Furthermore, the development of the business idea does not take place on paper only, but the students have gone to visit their potential customers and tested their ideas with them.
In addition to customer insight, Idea Startup also emphasises the presentation and visualisation of business ideas. At the same time, it also develops students’ capabilities for entrepreneurship.
- It is not necessary for the students enrolling for the study unit to seriously consider becoming entrepreneurs, but they can come here to test whether they have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. The most important thing is the inner entrepreneurship, Päivi Harmoinen points out.
Towards starting one's own company
After the Idea phase, the Laurea Startup path continues with the Dan 5-credit Business Startup study unit. When the Idea phase emphasises testing of a business idea with customers, the Business phase is about testing a business mode.
- At this stage, the focus is on money and figures; how much would it cost to run business operations, and how much sales would that require. In addition, we have also acquainted ourselves a little bit with the legal matters associated with setting up a company, Marjo Ruuti and Marjo Koistinen, instructors of the Business Startup study unit, describe.
After the Idea and Business phases, the Laurea Startup path continues with the Developing Startup and Kick-off Startup study units, beginning in spring. The Growth phase will begin later, in autumn 2017. Guidance in these studies will be individual with each student.
Laurea Startup from the students’ point of view:
Susanna Perttula, hospitality management student:
During the Laurea Startup study unit, the first-year hospitality management student Susanna Perttula presented her business idea for a novel hostel concept. Perttula had come up with the idea already when she was studying tourism at Vocational College Omnia.
- I graduated from Omnia in 2014, and developing my own entrepreneurial idea was important to me, when I applied to continue my studies at a university of applied sciences, she explains.
- Therefore, I have now tried to choose my study units with the thought that they would all benefit the realisation of this idea of mine.
Perttula has been satisfied with the Idea Startup study unit. The feedback and guidance given during the study unit were positive and encouraging. The portfolio made during the study unit provided Susanna with various useful and practical tools through which she could develop her idea further.
- In spring, I intend to continue with my idea to the Business phase. There I could refine my idea even further, for example, in terms of calculation of costs, she says.
Mari Karttunen, business student:
Mari Karttunen is now in her third year of Business Management studies at Laurea. Karttunen took the Laurea Startup study unit last year.
- I had a very good feeling after the study unit in autumn a year ago, and it has been my absolute favourite study unit during my studies so far. I definitely wanted to join this Idea phase as well, she says.
Karttunen's business idea is a mobile application for life management purposes. I got the idea from my own life: what kind of help would people need in scheduling their lives, managing their finances, or reaching their own goals in general.
- This study unit has given me especially courage and belief in what I’m doing. No ideas have been knocked down, but everyone's own thing has been developed through positive comments, Mari explains.
- At the same time, we have learned what entrepreneurship requires. One cannot be only half involved, but it requires one's whole-hearted commitment all the time.
Juuli Mielonen and Melinda Räsänen, physiotherapy students:
Physiotherapy students Juuli Mielonen and Melinda Räsänen had already developed a prototype for their business idea as part of their thesis. Therefore, they had joined the Business Startup study unit with an aim to seek entrepreneurial competence and assistance for productisation of their idea.
- As physiotherapy students, we did not have much business management knowledge, and here we have learned a lot of new things about how to realise our idea. For example, the budgetary matters have been important, they point out.
- Furthermore, nothing provided here has been inessential or redundant, and thus we have been able to give our full attention to what benefits us.
Earlier, both Mielonen and Räsänen had considered the idea of becoming an entrepreneur a little frightening.
- This study unit has made it more concrete what if means to become an entrepreneur. Now it appears as an exciting future path in a good way, they both conclude.