Student entrepreneurship in Laurea: A game-like service encourages users to take exercise

When you come up with a good business idea, why wait? This philosophy is an apt description of Cuckoo Workout, a startup launched by Ida Mänty and Veera Lehmonen.

- It all began when Ida and I met through a work placement in summer 2013, Veera Lehmonen recalls the early phases of Cuckoo Workout.
- One day, we decided to set the alarm and do 100 star jumps when it went off. After our very first jumping session, we reserved the domain name and decided that one day this would lead into bigger things.

This is how Cuckoo Workout was launched. It is a game-like exercise service based on short videos that encourage workers to get moving during the day. The alarm reminds you to get off your bum and take a small bit of exercise to break up your working day.

Help from Spinno

From then on, Cuckoo Workout has gone ahead at full steam. Both Ida and Veera were business management students in Leppävaara, and only two weeks after having come up with their idea, they were already at Spinno Enterprise Centre planning their next steps. First of all, they made an invention disclosure and used it to apply for startup funding from Tekes.

- Spinno has been a great support for us in our early days, says Veera Lehmonen.
- In summer 2014 we received Tekes funding and our first investment, which enabled us to produce a pilot version of our service.

At the moment, Cuckoo Workout operates from Spinno's facilities in Otaniemi, Espoo. In addition to Ida and Veera, the team comprises Joonas Iivonen, who works on the technical implementation of the service. In December, the team was also joined by an occupational health expert who brings medical expertise to the mix.

- We now have a functioning service that we have already been selling to companies, Ida Mänty explains.
- Currently, we also have good trial customers who are trying out the product.

Cuckoo Workout's most important customer group at the moment is Finnish insurance companies that can also offer the service to their customers. In a near future, Ida and Veera also have their sights on the North American market.

- We spent three weeks in New York and San Francisco in the autumn. We had talks with a large American provider of occupational health care services, and they were interested in our service, says Veera Lehmonen.

Student entrepreneurs

The young entrepreneurs from Cuckoo Workout praise the support offered by Laurea to enterprising students. In addition to Spinno, they have been assisted by Laurea's entrepreneurship services, which are currently known as Laurea StartUp.

- If a student wishes to work on an idea, in our experience Laurea can offer the right people to help him or her on the way, says Ida Mänty.

Ever since they started their studies, both Ida and Veera knew they wanted to become entrepreneurs before they even graduated. Many people expressed their doubts about the idea of them becoming full-time entrepreneurs straight from school. However, the team in Cuckoo Workout finds that your student years are the best time to set up an enterprise.

"The best thing about enterprising is freedom"

The young women feel that the best thing about enterprising is the freedom it offers. While entrepreneurs work long hours, they are free to do what they want.

- An outsider might think that this would keep you pretty much shackled. But when you are busy with your own project, it does not feel like work in the same way, explains Veera Lehmonen.
- And it is also great to think about all the people we have already met on the way, the situations we have found ourselves in, and the challenges we have overcome. These are the kind of experiences you would miss out on in other kinds of jobs, Ida Mänty continues.

The greatest challenges of an entrepreneur's everyday life are associated with being mentally tough. Cuckoo Workout has also had its fair share of hardship. Ida and Veera both agree that they have achieved immense personal growth during their two years as entrepreneurs.

- We have so much more self-knowledge, and as partners we have both also learnt to realise when the other is pushed close to the limit, says Ida.
- However, it is true that after the really difficult moments, success feels better than ever, Veera continues.

Read more about Cuckoo Workout at

Modified 4/17/2015 4:03 PM

​Veera Lehmonen and Ida Mänty.