“All good things come to a beginning,” phrased project lead Minttu Ripatti in her opening speech to kick off the final showcase of TREMOR, the University of Helsinki’s incubator for social impact entrepreneurship. Indeed, although all 17 participating teams have worked hard for the past six months and have now reached an important milestone in their entrepreneurial journeys, their stories are far from being over.
The scene for an inspiring evening was set by futurist, inventor, and author Perttu Pölönen, who gave a keynote speech on the importance of engaging on impactful action, even when the risks are high and there’s no guarantee of success: “The fact that things are going OK should not mean that we don't try new things, because in the long run, the painful decisions are the ones that will have mattered,” he argued. For Pölönen, the most important source of strength in social entrepreneurship is the fact that it brings people together around shared values that are not based on the exploitation of humans and nature: “In social entrepreneurship, we all just want to make a positive impact, and instead of trying to optimize everything for the best profit and comparing successes, we support each other towards our shared goal. Competition is not a negative concept in this field, on the contrary, it is something that only strengthens the vision of the future we all want to see.”
The evening rolled on as all participating TREMOR teams stood up and pitched their solutions to a panel of judges. From the presentations it became clear that the teams had put a lot of work into polishing their work, and that they were well prepared to answer even the trickiest of questions presented to them by the panel. After presenting her pitch, participant Natasha De Koker felt a wave of relief: “It has been a long six months. It really has. You know, when you're focusing on your business and you're very passionate about what you're doing, but you also need to focus on your family, your friends, and yourself. To find the balance between all of that can sometimes be overwhelming, but now I feel like we’re in a really good place with our project. We’ve got so much more new knowledge, and we’re ready to move on to the next phases. I’m so proud of us!” she said, referring to herself and team member Frederick Kyle, with whom she has founded Just IS Finland, a digital solution that seeks to provide an easy way for citizens to resolve common every-day legal disputes in a user-friendly and quick way.
Project lead Ripatti also shared her feelings about the end of the programme: “I’m so proud of all the teams! Going into this project, I wanted to do things differently and let the teams gradually find their own path—their own ways to create sustainable working lives for themselves. The atmosphere today has been amazing: community, warmth, friendship, all of it has been palpable. Like I said before, all good things come to a beginning—I can´t wait to follow our teams’ paths in the future!”
Project assistant Lis Vila Rosas was equally excited to see where the six months had led the teams: “I remember the first workshop at the Language Centre. Look at where we are now! I'm so proud of what we've accomplished,” she commented. “For me, TREMOR has been a place to grow not only professionally but in a personal way, too. Together we’ve created a safe space where we can be ourselves and encourage each other to make the change this world needs. Our programme has never been a competition to prove what team has the best solution. Instead, we've supported each other in many ways. Even new solutions have been created through merges! Whatever happens in the future, the TREMORIAN bond will never fade, and we’ll always remember all these experiences that have helped us evolve and become better versions of ourselves for the benefit of a more sustainable world!”
As the evening neared its end, the air was bittersweet with goodbyes. But although melancholic, even stronger were the underlying feelings of hope and excitement. After all, the participants’ work towards a more equitable, inclusive, and empathic world had only just begun.
The application period for the second round of TREMOR has been extended until 13 August! Make sure to send in your application as soon as possible, as they are processed on a rolling basis. To find out more about the incubator, see the programme webpage. Do also take a look at our alumni stories, in which Jenny Law from HelloThere and Timo Laiho & Helena Kojola from Composia share their experiences.