Ignite is a summer accelerator program at Aalto University aiming to make ideas into reality. The ten-week program is structured with weekly topics on entrepreneurship, from business validation to fundraising. Ignite offers coaching by experienced professionals, financial support, ten ECTS credits, and lifelong learning experiences. On top of everything, Ignite might be the last “summer job” to apply to if your venture succeeds.
Ignite 2022 received 128 applications, of which only 13 teams got chosen for the program. Applications were from 38 different schools and various fields of study, ensuring the applicants’ diversity. Diversity is essential in building ventures, so the team compliments each other to their maximum potential. It’s essentially said that the most crucial factor in early-stage companies is the team, not the idea. Moreover, the teams applying to ignite had an increasing number of ideas in the fields of sustainability, therefore showing the accelerating drive to create solutions for a better society and the planet.
Ignite might be the last “summer job” to apply to if your venture succeeds.
Our team decided to apply to Ignite to gain a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship. Ignite enabled that and pushed us to pursue entrepreneurship in the most solid form possible. The original idea for Ignite started in an electronic workshop course at Aalto, where one of our team members, Iivo Angerpuro, dug deeper into hydroponic farming solutions with fascination. After the course, Iivo continued the project of bringing nature to urban living environments. We were taking the idea further by recruiting others to the team around the concept and applying to the Ignite accelerator program — and fortunately got accepted in. But the road with hydroponic farming solutions turned out to be bumpy and ended after one of the team members had to go off to other ventures. This is when we pivoted our idea to the next level, from hydroponic B2C solutions to B2B SaaS payment and ordering systems for restaurants and other businesses.
With the new idea came a new journey. The idea being clear, we had to rapidly assess the skills needed to deliver the solution and acquire them. The biggest challenge being web-development, and our team adapted to this by taking on the task of learning full-stack development. The beginning of the summer was spent with a strong determination which led to learning the necessary programming skills, and by the end of the summer, a product had been developed. The product can be checked out at www.oitis.io, where it is possible to build a digital menu for a restaurant. Moreover, we created a QR-code generator website where QR-codes can be made for free: www.qrkoodigeneraattori.fi. Our goal was to create a solution that would benefit others and would not require our full-time commitment as we are still students.
Entrepreneurship is an excellent tool to change the world and create innovation.
Ignite provided us with the skills, mindset, and community to pursue our idea more rigorously and helped us through the hurdles that would have otherwise been difficult to overcome. From daily workshops to 1-on-1 coaching sessions with the smartest people in Finland, Ignite definitely provided us value for our time. The best sessions, in our opinion, were held by Peter Kelly, Ilkka Paananen, and Ilkka Kivimäki. The directors of Ignite understood how to support the entrepreneurial journey by leaving nearly all the freedom to the teams themselves, giving each line-up of teams free hands and creative minds to work when building a start-up. Workshop masters gave precious insights and recommendations based on their experiences.
Ignite is a perfect way to take ownership of ideas and discover the unusual path of being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is an excellent tool to change the world and create innovation. We certainly have learned not to be afraid of it; this summer, we have comprehended that entrepreneurship and wonderful ideas can feel encouraging and exciting. Being a student is no obstacle to creating something of your own, from zero to a hundred and beyond. Ignite not only accelerates ideas to reality but also accelerates the individuals making those ideas and equips one with the can-do mindset. Ignite is not only a start-up accelerator; it’s truly a people accelerator.