Online course offers practical help for anyone interested in entrepreneurship

Aalto students and the startup community got together to develop the Starting Up course, which is free of charge and open to everyone.
Starting up -verkkokurssin aloitusnäyttö jakautuu kolmeen osioon, joita koristavat piirroskuvat

Entrepreneurship interests students: a third of Finnish students would like to become an entrepreneur after graduating. At the same time, just 14% believe that university will make them well prepared for this path.

The Starting Up online course will help anyone with an interest in entrepreneurship. It provides tools for and basic knowledge about growth entrepreneurship. The course is completely online and does not require participants to own any particular software.

‘The idea for an online entrepreneurship course came up in April 2019, and we published it the next November,’ says Aaro Isosaari, CEO of the business accelerator Kiuas.

He himself got involved in the entrepreneurship community’s activities when he started studying industrial engineering and management in 2017 and got to know the active members of Aaltoes, Europe’s biggest student-driven entrepreneurship community, which is also behind the Slush startup event.

The Kiuas accelerator pairs seasoned businesspeople with startup firms looking for advice.

‘We’d been thinking about ways to introduce our knowledge to the wider public for quite some time. But it is usually only possible to admit some 15% of the applicants for our programmes, leaving hundreds of potential teams excluded each year,’ Isosaari says.

Learning from experienced business owners

The goal was to produce an approachable course that provides basic knowledge about themes, which are central to the establishing of a company. Its contents are derived from the personal experiences of veteran businesspeople.

What different types of companies are there? What’s a startup? How do you refine an idea into a business? How can you learn from your customers? How do you build a team? How do you apply for funding?

The themes are very practical. In addition to entrepreneurship, the course also teaches skills for developing an organisation’s internal entrepreneurship.

‘Both as students and as the managers of the accelerator we felt that especially young people starting their first business and people coming from outside the startup scene often lack the universal basic skills for establishing a company, validating their idea and developing a product,’ Aaro Isosaari says.

Making necessary knowledge and skills more readily available helps entrepreneurs avoid the most common early-stage pitfalls and encourages more and more people to start a business.

Aalto University announced its Starting Up online course in conjunction with the Slush event in November 2019. Fifteen European entrepreneurs, investors and technology industry pioneers were interviewed for the course. The implementation of the English-language course is being handled by the business accelerator Kiuas, venture capital fund, Aalto University’s entrepreneurship training scheme Aalto Ventures Program and the tech company Reaktor.

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This article is published in the Aalto University Magazine issue 26, April 2020.

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