Made in Aalto: The courage to try that bit harder

Otso Kääriäinen is a free spirit, globetrotter, entrepreneur and photographer. For him, studies in Entrepreneurship at Aalto University School of Business provided an interesting challenge and a chance to push the boundaries of his own comfort zone. "I didn't want to look back after 10 years and think I'd set the bar too low", says Otso.

Many people take a year off after high school. For Otso, a year was not enough. He yearned to see the world and experience life. He didn't want to limit himself to a confined box. "My favourite expression is 'well-rounded ' I think it is good to be knowledgeable and have skills in multiple areas, a bit like Steve Jobs said: "Stay curious, stay foolish."

The multi-talented Otso went to study Entrepreneurship at Aalto University School of Business out of curiosity and almost by accident. He has not regretted a single day.

Aalto opened up opportunities

Otso was attracted to Aalto mainly because of the people and the potential connections he could make. "When like-minded people meet under the same roof, great things happen. Aalto offers quite incredible possibilities on a global scale. This kind of thing is not even possible at Stanford", he says.

According to Otso, the best thing about Entrepreneurship studies was getting his "hands dirty". Students were given guidance and mentoring. Nothing was forced and the possibilities were endless. The international nature of the place was not only reflected by the fact that half of the participants were from abroad but also in terms of the opportunities to travel.

Otso visited China twice and Europe four times but that didn't satisfy the his hunger for seeing the world. "There are a hundred must-see destinations in the Hillman Wonders List" he says with a twinkle in his eye.

Fresh information direct from source

Otso praises Entrepreneurship studies saying it provides a wealth of fresh information. "The experiences of new startups are shared with the students immediately. If you want to build an application you can get both support and the chance to see what others have successfully utilised. People who have managed to achieve great things explain how they did it in our lectures."

Mentoring does not end upon graduation. Otso is still connected to the influential people he met during his studies.

Creating happiness

Otso is happy with his life as an entrepreneur. He earns a living by selling sports equipment online and also as a freelance photographer. "When you take photographs you convey a certain perception of the world. It's very rewarding."

He seeks balance and peace: "I can pay myself a salary and devote the rest of my time to doing meaningful things. I believe everything you do has a deeper meaning. For me it's about creating happiness for people." The purpose of life doesn't have to be discovered right away. The most important thing in life is the journey itself. Otso encourages students to try – and also to fail. "Only then can you challenge yourself, learn and grow as a human being” he says.

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