The application period for the University of Helsinki’s social entrepreneurship incubator TREMOR has been up and running for a while. To get a glimpse of what the programme is all about, we interviewed some of the first batch’s participants whose TREMOR journey is nearing its end. The programme has fostered many inspiring paths in the field of social impact entrepreneurship, such as that of Jenny Law, whom we had the pleasure of sitting down with on a sunny April afternoon.
Law, mother of three and early childhood education student at the University of Helsinki, came to the programme to develop her solution HelloThere, a platform for parents in need of support in their daily lives with young children. Law’s goal is to provide a space for new parents to connect with other parents struggling with the same difficult phases and with more experienced caregivers who know how to manage through them. Law felt like there wasn’t enough talk around the emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing of parents: “There’s a lot of expectations about what mothers and fathers should be like. This creates a lot of pressure, and causes mental health issues and further stigmatisation,” Law explains. “I don’t want anyone to feel lonely with their experience. What I want to do with the platform is to show struggling parents that you can be any kind of parent you want to be, and that you should do what feels right for you.”
Although Law had founded an international kindergarten in 2018 and had experience in entrepreneurship, she felt she needed extra support in bringing her solution to life. At the beginning of the programme, Law faced the difficult choice of taking a few steps back with her solution, when she realised she needed to redefine her customer base to include parents more generally, and not just mothers: “I felt like we were already close to having an MVP and ready to go on to the next stage. But something was off, it didn’t feel right. So I went back to the drawing board, and I'm really proud of myself for being brave enough to do that,” Law says.
For Law, the best part of the programme has been her connection with her mentors Krista Pohjanlehto and Vladimir Chepurnoy: “My mentors have been brilliant, I absolutely love them. They’ve made me feel like I have a great product coming. At times I actually feel like they believe in my product more than I myself do! They’ve picked me up when I’ve felt quite low or when I’ve questioned whether this is going anywhere. They’ve given me more than just advice – they trust me, and that gives me so much confidence.”
Law also commends the work of project lead Minttu Ripatti, who has brought participants together with various useful connections: “Minttu has gone over and beyond emailing different organisations on our behalf, promoting us and our products. That has been a great support, absolutely.” In addition, Law feels grateful for the tight-knit TREMOR community, in which she feels like she can share her experience with others and get feedback from many points of view. “In the workshops, you can always chat with whoever’s sitting next to you and catch up. Everyone cheers for you. I think we’re really lucky to have such a nice bunch of people together!” she says emphatically.
Right now, Law is hoping to get her product out to be used by real parents. Together with her team member Lotta Uusitalo, an adjunct professor and docent in special education, she is in the process of defining key features of the platform and its services, and who their main target group should be. The most important lesson Law has learned throughout the programme has been that perfection is unattainable: “It’s OK not to know everything. You’ll figure it out on the way. Instead of trying to do everything perfectly, focus on doing what’s important to you.” For Law, this something has been the idea of making a real change: “I want our product to make a difference in people's lives. The choices that we make need to be sustainable and ones that we can all be proud of, and that’s why social entrepreneurship matters. If you’re like me and you're passionate about building a company with a social impact, you’ll be in good hands in TREMOR!” she says and smiles.
Applications are open to the second round of the six-month social impact entrepreneurship incubator TREMOR, taking place next autumn. Read more about the programme here, and contact project lead Minttu Ripatti for any questions you may have: through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through LinkedIn.
Consider also joining our open info session held on 24 May, where Law will share more about her experience! Find out more and register here to take part.