Entrepreneruship, innovation and technology are essential parts of the degree that we are studying. Being LEINNErs without much experience yet, it is important for us to learn from those who already had some trajectory and who also started like us- from scratch and with an awesome idea.
This is why some of our colleagues had organized a meeting with Sonja Hyrynsalmi, the coordinador of the SparkUp Turku Co-working space. Spark Up is a part of a Science Park, an organization that helps startups and entrepreneurs with resources and office space all around the word. This space was pretty cool, a typical ground for ideas exchange and creativity flow.
SparkUp is a launchpad for businesses. They provide with urgently needed knowledge through workshops, events and consultancy services; they connect startups that seek funding with right people and organizations (they themselves are funded by the government and Turku’s municipality); they provide space and an open-minded environment for focused and energetic business development. Apart from the space for tech and product startups, in Science park there is a life and health science hub and labarotories that are developing products that can improve people’s lives.
In order to have an idea about how to give a good pitch, one of the startups from the campus gave us a demo pitch about their idea and business. KleenU is a new and more efficient way of cleaning your hands. They had developed special tissues that are much more effective in cleaning the bacteria then the alcohol solutions or even soap and water. Their magic box has 10 biodegradable towels, that become usable when you add water after only 3 minutes. The towels are disposable and have a special composition that removes the most dirt from your hands, requiring no soap, going to the bathroom or smelling the strong scent of alcohol from the anti-bacterial solutions.
The founder of KleenU, had started the venture in Summer 2015. Markku and his co-founder are engineers and industrial designers, which gives them a great technical base for creating this product. Since that time, they had already received funding from Microsoft and Tekes, which is a great advantage of this country’s support system. Tekes is a publicly funded, Finnish governmental organization that helps with funding, research, development and innovation. With their help and the SparkUp space, it’s no wonders that KleenU was able to develop this great product in such short time.
One thing that we identified was that many startups in technical co-working spaces have great products but don’t have a clear target market and focus on one potential opportunity. Having several markets that you could go for is a good thing because you diversify and it is less risky if something doesn’t turn out as planned. Although this is true, it is also important to have one or several customer profiles that you know from inside out to create a product that will target their pain straight away. These cleaning wipes could be targeted at young women who care about hygiene and the fresh sensation of clean hands. However, families with kids who are traveling, people at conferences or big events, co-working spaces or just household usage could be all potential market opportunities that they’re not developing. One of our projects, Squiz, saw a great potential in this company and got many ideas of how we can help them to get a clear customer focus, expand quickly and boost their sales, satisfying their customer needs at the same time.
Talking with these co-founders was a great pleasure and a great source of knowledge for us. We learned a lot about starting up, developing a product that clearly solves a problem and how it can be brought to live. The whole SparkUp space was full of awesome startups that are doing innovative and cutting edge products. Networking, talking to potential clients, pitching and practicing our communication skills was increíbly valuable for all of the future projects we would like to kick off.