The startup ecosystem around Aalto University and the surrounding area has fantastic services and possibilities for anyone looking to turn their research into tangible impact, accelerate the growth of their already-existing startup or test whether their initial business idea is worth a shot.
However, the Aalto Ventures Program team recently noted that the ecosystem was missing a pre-incubation program.
As traditional incubators work on an application basis, it means that as only a limited batch is accepted, one might have to wait for as long as half a year to apply again.
Impact Studio is here to fill that gap.
No need for an initial idea to run with
'First, you go through a process of ideation and team building, and once you have a solid team and an idea, you will proceed to validate it. Impact Studio opens doors every month to any number of participants, which makes it a place to go to for those who are not ready yet for an incubator – or do not want to wait,' Anna Dementyeva, Incubation Specialist at AVP, explains.
To ensure that the Studio's applicant pool is as diverse as possible, it is open for everyone, not just Aalto community members.
'Spreading the entrepreneurial mindset across the broader ecosystem is important for us – we aim to have a societal impact on the level of the whole country, not just our Aalto community. No need for an initial idea – just a spark to make the world a slightly better place is enough.'
Sustainability as the core value
Another challenge that Impact Studio wishes to contribute to is solving the Sustainable Development Goals – a connection to solving the SDGs is required to proceed through the Studio stages.
'An ideal candidate is a person who is resilient, self-directed and has a strong inner motivation to turn their ideas into reality by first validating them. Studio doesn’t have any deadlines, so an ability to push forward without external pressure is a must,' Anna states.
The ability to remain open and flexible is also important: too often, entrepreneurs quickly fall in love with their idea, which makes sincerely accepting invaluable customer feedback difficult. This can then lead to creating products that the world does not need.
'We have had two very diverse batches so far! We have had people of different ages, nationalities, genders, and study backgrounds, both from Aalto and outside of Aalto. One thing that unites them all is the strong passion for solving problems related to sustainability,' Anna says.
What happens after the program?
Ideally, completing all the Studio stages and reflecting on the results will give anyone a robust set of entrepreneurial skills to proceed further, whatever they have their goals set on.
No one is left to develop their ideas further alone, though. In addition to general advice chats and introductions to useful stakeholders, Impact Studio will form an alumni network that will continue to support anyone who has taken part in the program.
New participants are chosen at the end of the day on the 25th of each month (except June).