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Impact Studio

Wanna make the world a better place?

Take a look at yourself and make a change.

Content starts here

We believe that entrepreneurs can change the world and solve big, global problems. But in order to do that, you need a team, an idea, and you need to validate it quickly. 

Impact Studio will take you through all the steps necessary to verify whether your idea has the potential to become a sustainable business, scale up and make the world a slightly better place. 

What will you get from the Studio? 

  • Access to step-by-step guidance and resources for validating your idea. 
  • Lots of networking possibilities with other active problem-solvers. Maybe one of them will join your team? 
  • Peer support from other founders  
  • Expert mentoring  
  • Connections to the Finnish entrepreneurship ecosystem 
  • Funding for your MVP 
  • Pitch possibilities and intros to investors 
  • Life-long support after graduating from the Studio 

Who are we looking for?  

This Studio is open to anyone who would like to create solutions solving local and global problems. Whether you already have an idea or not, you can join the Studio and connect with other problem-solvers. Starting off, you’ll go through a process of ideation and teambuilding, and once you have a team and an idea (or if you already have them to start with), you’ll proceed to validate it.  

The first two stages of the Studio are open to anyone based in Finland, but if you wish to continue to the next stages, you’ll need to have at least one team member from the Aalto community (student, researcher, staff, alumni).  

How does it work? 

The Studio includes four stages, each stage focusing on various aspects of your idea: 

Stage 0: Ideation and TeambuildingAt this stage, you will first look at yourself and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses as a future founder. You will then learn about the global issues that need solutions and learn how to create your first idea — or develop your existing one further — based on those problems. You will get to know how to build a team and plan on where to look for teammates. You will also have an opportunity to participate in ideation workshops and networking sessions where you can expand your team or join someone with an idea close to your heart.  

I am interested in solving problems and building solutions. I want to make an impact. I need a team. Requirements:

  • You are based in Finland  

Reflection: Do I want to continue?

Stage 1: Founder focus and Problem validation

This stage is crucial for idea validation. Perhaps the worst mistake a founder can make is to create a solution that nobody needs. That is why this stage will focus on the most important aspect of the business: understanding your customers and users. You will get tools for interacting with your potential customers and users in order to recognize their problems, helping you to improve your idea. You will create your first simple prototype. Additionally, you will get access to biweekly Founder Calls to interact with peers and you can continue joining networking sessions if you need to grow your team.  

I have an idea and I need to see if it works. I am open to customer feedback and improving my idea.Requirements:

  • All stage 0 checkpoints completed  
  • Reflection done and decided to continue 
  • Sufficient team for stage 1 (at least two team members)  
  • Initial idea aligned with SDGs  

Reflection: Do I want to continue?

Stage 2: Prototype and Business Model During this stage, you will continue working on your prototype and refining it together with the customers. You will analyze your competitors and markets. You will also explore how to make your solution sustainable in the future. Will you decide to found a company? If so, what type of company and business model should you choose? Or is there another option you’ll be happier with? You will start planning the financials and funding options, as well as the initial go-to-market strategy. You’ll also get access to mentoring clinics to receive expert feedback and advice.

The customers seem to like my solution. Is there a way to make it sustainable? Can I make money with it or is there another way to make my solution come true? Requirements:

  • All stage 1 checkpoints completed  
  • Reflection done and decided to continue  
  • Sufficient team for stage 2  
  • At least one team member from the Aalto community  

Reflection: Do I want to continue?

Stage 3: MVP and Financials

This stage takes you even closer to establishing a sustainable model for building and selling your solution. You will be able to apply for small-scale funding from AVP to build your MVP. You will refine the financial and funding plans, as well as set up metrics important for your company. You will accomplish an actual sale and participate in pitching competitions. You will also go through the practicalities of registering a company or another type of organization in Finland, if that is your choice. 

I am serious about this. I had good initial validation, and I want to proceed towards building the solution in real life. Requirements  

  • All stage 2 checkpoints completed  
  • Reflection done and decided to continue  
  • Sufficient team for MVP building  
  • At least one team member from the Aalto community  
  • Financial plan for MVP and pitch deck submitted (if applying for funding)

Reflection: Do I want to continue?

AlumniEntrepreneurship is a continuous journey, and we would like to provide you with a welcoming and supportive community in your journey even after completing all the checkpoints. You will still be able to share your updates with us and ask questions. We will make relevant introductions for you and acquaint you with important ecosystem players. We will also share quick announcements of useful events, competitions, and programs. 

I will proceed to build my solution with a sustainable model. I already have a business and welcome a supportive community and a place to go for help. Requirements  

  • All stage 3 checkpoints completed  
  • Reflection done

Each stage provides a list of practical checkpoints to accomplish to proceed through a stage, as well as a curated list of resources that help you to carry out the tasks. Every two weeks you will be meeting with your peers and Studio coaches to discuss the progress and challenges. At the later stages, you will also get a personal industry or business mentor. 

After completing each stage, you will reflect on your progress and your plans and decide for yourself whether you want to proceed with your current idea or maybe repeat the process with another one. Or maybe you’ll decide to combine forces with some other future founders in solving an altogether different challenge. The decision is yours!  

How do I apply? 

The Studio has an ongoing application process, and we accept future founders every month. You can apply right away, and you won’t need to wait for months to get in! 

Your next steps: 

  1. Submit your application here any time: https://forms.gle/rCDjRGMPpcQNunEVA 
  2. We choose participants at the end of the day on the 25th of each month (except June) and contact them over email.
  3. You get access to the Studio on the following month’s first Tuesday via a compulsory intro session. 

FAQ

Are there alternatives to this Studio? How is it different?

Yes, there are a lot of support programs for early-stage entrepreneurs in the Aalto ecosystem and the wider startup community. For example, if you are not ready to work on a solution yet, but you just want to learn how startups work, AVP organizes the Startup Experience course twice a year. Aaltoes has a lot of support mechanisms too — for example, the Ignite Incubator that is organized during summer. You may want to check Kiuas Start as well. There are also multiple other incubation programs around Finland. In fact, this Studio might not be suitable for you at all. You may feel more comfortable in a strictly scheduled cohort-based program, and we are only happy if you realize this and choose a course or another incubation program more suitable to you instead. It’s your choice!

So, how’s the Studio different?

The selection is ongoing throughout the year. If you missed applying to the course, you can join the Studio instead.

The Studio fits more easily into your own schedule and personal situation. You set up deadlines and timetables yourself, so it may be easier for you to combine them with your studies or work. However, as there are no external demands like you’d have in a course, you must be self-motivated and driven in order to proceed.

The support is ongoing and continues even after graduating from the Studio. We won’t forget about you after all the stages, but you join our alumni network and continue getting support and mentoring.

All the tasks you do in the Studio have one purpose only: validating your idea and your entrepreneurial capabilities and leading you to establish a business (or choosing another path). Each task takes you one more step towards a sustainable model for your solution. They are all very practical and based on what entrepreneurs do in “real life.”

You join a community of multidisciplinary and entrepreneurially-minded individuals, who might join you in your team.

What are checkpoints? What type of tasks will I have to do in the Studio?

Each stage will introduce you to a set of subjects and checkpoints to perform. The checkpoint tasks are very practical and are focused on helping you with developing your solution. These tasks may be, for example, creating a financial plan, a go-to-market strategy, a stakeholder map, conducting interviews and analyzing customers’ pain points, making a competitor analysis, building a prototype, etc.

You will be able to get feedback on your outputs and help with performing them from Studio peers and coaches.

How long does it take to complete the Studio?

The Studio is very flexible timewise, and you will set up your own deadlines for the tasks. If you have already completed some tasks before joining or if you give your full attention to the Studio, you might complete the whole studio in some weeks! However, if you start from scratch or if you don’t have much time to give to the Studio right now, it will likely take several months.

We have set up some time restrictions to the stages (3–5 months per stage) in order to make sure that we only have participants who are proceeding with their tasks. If you feel like you need more time, you can ask us and we will keep you inside the stages for as long as you need. However, if we don’t hear from you, and the time limit is over, we will remove you from the Studio.

I’ve already done some of the tasks you mention. Can I jump right away to the 3rd stage? Can I join the alumni stage right away, if I already have a business?

To make the process simple and equal, you will still need to start from stage 0. However, you may proceed very quickly from one stage to another if some tasks are already completed. We are pretty sure, however, that some of the checkpoints will still be new to you at each stage, and we’d like you to make sure that all of them are done before joining the last stage or alumni community. If you are unsure what should you do, please contact us at anna.dementyeva@aalto.fi

What is a compulsory intro session?

Stages 0 and 1 will start with an hour-long intro session that will guide you through the Studio platform and introduce you to other participants. It is important to take part in this session, as you will get clear guidelines on how the Studio works and commit to common values and practices.

The intro session takes place at the beginning of each month (except July).

Why is it divided into stages and what does reflection mean?

Entrepreneurship is a journey, and it is good to stop from time to time and reflect on the progress, the challenges, and our own attitudes and plans. Your personal situation might suddenly change or the idea you started with might not work out. That’s why we want you to stop and reflect after each big milestone (stage) and make a conscious decision to continue to the next stage or take a break, or even go back to the previous stage.

Do you support only those who want to become startups? What if I want to open an NGO or another type of company? How much impact do you expect?

The Studio is open for any type of business or model for your solution. When you go through the checkpoints, you will identify what type of company (if any) you wish to choose to make your solution sustainable. Sustainable here means that you will find a model of continuous financing and development of your solution so that it can survive and grow after the Studio stages as well.

Some tasks do however focus more on startup development, and startup companies do have more potential to create impact as they are scalable. Please keep that in mind when completing the checkpoints.

How much impact do we expect? We want to contribute to solving the sustainable development goals. Your venture may be more impact-oriented or less, and the “amount” of impact is not as important as your commitment to advance it.

How do I get funding for the MVP?

When you reach stage 3 of the Studio and are planning to build a real MVP (minimum viable product), AVP can help you in purchasing necessary materials, tools, and digital products. To access this funding, you will need to prepare a financial plan for the MVP and submit a pitch deck. No worries — stage 2 will prepare you for delivering those materials. Please note that the funding will not cover any salaries.

Will I get a mentor?

On the second stage of the Studio, you’ll get access to mentor clinics, and you’ll be able to book short calls with various AVP mentors.

In the third stage, we’ll look for a personal mentor for you focusing either on the business or industry side.

We will also provide tips and techniques on how and where to find more mentors for you if you feel like you need more support on various aspects of your business.

I have a unique idea and I don’t want to share anything about it with others. Can you make everyone sign an NDA?

The Studio is based on trust, and we will not have any NDAs at any point. In fact, there are many studies and articles that explain why concealing your idea is not good and that nobody is going to steal anything. The ideas don’t matter anyway — only implementation does. However, if you really feel uncomfortable talking about certain aspects of your solution, you have a choice not to talk about them. You can choose to openly share only general information, and keep details to your team only. We will not ask for any specifics, only general reflections.

Are Studio sessions on-site or online? Are there any technical requirements?

Due to Covid19 restrictions, we will keep all Studio sessions online for now. When the situation improves we may implement some networking sessions on-site as well.

We use the following channels for the Studio participants: Miro, Zoom, and Telegram. If you are joining the Studio, please install Zoom and Telegram, and be ready to use Miro on your (laptop) browser. You will not be able to join the Studio without agreeing to use those channels.

Can I get credits?

Yes, it is possible to recognize your work and learning in the Studio into credits via https://yoop.fi/en/. However, we highly discourage you to join, if getting the credits is your only motivation.

What happens after the program?

After successfully completing all the stages of the Studio, you join the exclusive Studio alumni community. We will provide continuous support for you according to your needs. You will have access to:

  • Monthly Founder Calls: share your updates and challenges, ask for advice, network.
  • Monthly Stakeholder Calls: each month we invite a relevant ecosystem agent to get to know you; these may be investors, startup support programs, accelerators, etc.
  • Founder chat: ask a quick question from peers and mentors and receive relevant updates about entrepreneurship activities in the ecosystem.
  • Personal intros to investors or relevant ecosystem players.

 

I have a question that hasn’t been answered in this FAQ.

Please contact us at anna.dementyeva@aalto.fi

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