SÄRÖ/FRACTURE, the pre-incubator programme for socially impactful entrepreneurship organised by the Helsinki Incubators with their partners at the Helsinki Think Company, concluded its 2nd round with a final pitching event in late May at the main stage of the University’s Think Corner. The two-month-long series of workshops brought together a dozen teams to work on their burgeoning product and service ideas and develop them into tangible and socially impactful ventures.
During the programme, participants worked on their innovative product and service ideas across a wide range of areas. These included improvements to educational systems, supporting community-building and inclusion, and contributing to social diversity through different services, products, and digital platforms.
Looking back, Cristina Valle de Vicente, one of the programme’s organisers along with programme lead Mari Karjalainen and Heidi Ollitervo, considers it a success: “SÄRÖ/FRACTURE provided participants with opportunities to develop their skills and business ideas, grow as professionals and empower themselves, all within a supportive community,” Valle de Vicente explains. “Participants got to connect with like-minded people, support and inspire each other by sharing valuable feedback and advice, and encouraged each other in these early steps of their journeys towards becoming socially impactful entrepreneurs.”
Programme participants also stressed the importance of the communal atmosphere of the programme, with many after the final reflecting on the value of peer support they’d received: “The people and ambience in SÄRÖ/FRACUTRE were both really friendly and nice,” said Tatiana Pertseva of team AUROBOREA, who spent the programme developing a service for families of immigrant backgrounds needing support and assistance for dealing with discrimination and bullying. “You could always get support from the others and even if some things felt a bit nerve-wracking, like pitching, you always felt like you were in a safe space.”
Team Co-Consulting, consisting of Satu Perjo, Hanna Myllyniemi, and Mila Roivas, who worked on developing their DEI-consulting firm during the programme, echoed Pertseva’s sentiment: “SÄRÖ/FRACTURE was a fun and inspiring experience. The most valuable part of the programme was the community and networking. It was wonderful to share ideas with the other teams and hear about how they were progressing.”
In addition to the value brought by the programme’s communal spirit, participants were also thankful for the expert-led workshops, recognising their invaluable contributions to the development of their product or service ideas.
“The experts provided us with indispensable feedback and concrete tips and examples on things like product development and piloting. Being able to get their insights into their own lines of work was so important to our journey, that without them our idea would still be in the starting blocks. Getting this far, this quick, would have been impossible without all the expert help we received,” says a thankful team Co-Consulting.
Many of the programme’s participants plan to continue developing their ideas and plan to take them to the Helsinki Incubator’s TREMOR incubator, which deals with similar themes to SÄRÖ/FRACTURE at a more in-depth level. Many are also considering registering their businesses – when the time is right.
“I still need more theoretical knowledge and practical skills to register,” explains AUROBOREA’s Pertseva. “I hope to continue this journey with TREMOR, where I would get to develop myself and my idea further.”
For team Co-Consulting, progress is also ongoing: “We might have just secured our first client here at the final pitching event,” the team explains. “We’re still considering participating in TREMOR, but in any case we’ll be continuing our journey. At first we’ll focus on finding additional clients and billing them using light entrepreneurship services. Actual incorporation will come after we’ve done a bit more market research and developed our business to a more financially sustainable footing.”
Participants also received valuable positive feedback, as well as a few constructive suggestions for improvement from the event’s jury, which consisted of angel investor and start-up entrepreneur Ilona Mooney, as well as Minttu Ripatti and Pedro Gensini from the Helsinki Incubators. Summarising the feedback, Valle de Vicente says that “The jury highlighted the importance of piloting, considering the scalability of a product or service, and recommended, for example, refining business models and looking for partners. The ideas pitched at the final were at different developmental stages, but the jury found many of them interesting and promising. They felt that with a little further refinement and reflections, teams had ideas with the potential to become successful products and services.”