We believe that entrepreneurs can change the world and solve big, global problems. But 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 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 following 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 answering a fundamental question about your idea:
Stage 0: What impact do I want to make?
Stage 1: How do I validate the problem I want to solve?
Stage 2: How do I bring my solution into reality?
Stage 3: I’ve built my first version of the solution! How do I keep it viable?
Each stage provides a list of practical checkpoints to accomplish to proceed through a stage and a curated list of resources that help you carry out the tasks. Every two weeks, you will be meeting with your peers and Studio coaches to discuss the progress and challenges. In the later stages, you will also get one-on-one mentoring possibilities.
After completing each stage, you will reflect on your progress and plans and decide whether you want to proceed with your current idea or maybe repeat the process with another one. Or perhaps 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 (except January and July). You can apply right away, and you won’t need to wait for months to get in!
Your next steps:
- Submit your application here any time: https://forms.gle/rCDjRGMPpcQNunEVA
- We choose participants at the end of the day on the 25th of each month and contact them over email.
- You get access to the Studio on the following month’s first Tuesday via a compulsory intro session.
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 broader startup community. For example, if you are not ready to work on a solution yet, but 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 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 a course, you could 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. After all the stages, we won’t forget about you, 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 focus on helping you develop your solution. These tasks may include 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 give your full attention to the Studio, you might complete the whole studio in some weeks! However, if you start from scratch or don’t have much time to give to the Studio right now, it will likely take several months.
I’ve already done some of the tasks you mention. Can I jump right away to the 3rd stage? Can I join the alumni community 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. However, we are pretty sure 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 the alumni community. If you are unsure what should you do, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at email@example.com
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 participate in this session, as you will get clear guidelines on how the Studio works and commit to shared values and practices.
The intro session takes place at the beginning of each month (except July and January).
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 to any type of business or model for your solution. When you go through the checkpoints, you will identify what kind 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.
However, some tasks 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 purchase 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?
From Stage 0 already, you will meet mentors and chat with them about your idea or any question you might have about entrepreneurship.
In later stages, you will get access to one-on-one mentoring too.
You will also be getting continuous mentoring from your peers and the Studio coach.
In addition, we will 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.
Are Studio sessions on-site or online? Are there any technical requirements?
Some Studio calls are happening online via Zoom. Monthly mentoring meetings are organized in a hybrid model: you can join us on-site in Otaniemi or join via Zoom. Networking events and mingles usually happen on-site.
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.
Can I get credits?
It is possible to recognize your work and convert learning in the Studio into credits via https://yoop.fi/en/. However, we highly discourage you from joining 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, and 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.
What experiences have other people in the Studio had about the program?
You can read a story of one of the Studio Founders here: https://avp.aalto.fi/research-recycle-re-manufacture-an-impact-studio-story/
I have a question that hasn’t been answered in this FAQ.
Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are not sure yet if the Studio is suitable for you or want to chat about your idea, feel free to book a 30-min mentoring session with Anna.