Startup Weekend was organized in Oulu for the second time on the 7-9th of October 2016. OP Lab provided mentorship throughout the whole weekend and was again the main sponsor of the event. Originally created by Google as a part of the Techstars programme, Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event where developers, designers, marketers and all entrepreneurial-minded individuals gather together to develop their business ideas into concepts, prototypes or concrete products.

The event is open for anyone and requires no prior experience – the participants are provided with help, mentorship and support throughout the event with the help of the local business community. The first event in Oulu was held in April 2016. The agenda of the weekend is simple: forming teams around the most promising ideas on Friday, validating and developing the idea on Saturday, and pitching on Sunday. Teams have guidance, help and support available throughout the weekend.

One of the returning mentors was OP Lab’s Matti Rusila, the product owner of Pivo Kassa, who shared some of his insights on new business development during his keynote on Friday. For Matti the reason for mentoring in these events is simple: the new ideas and energy of the participants brings a lot of inspiration to his own work. On Saturday every participant already had a team and an idea to work on. The participants also received valuable tips on idea validation from OP Lab’s Mats Kyyrö, also returning as a mentor for the second time.

Afterwards every team went out and talked to potential customers, collected feedback and adjusted their ideas. The teams experienced in a day what most corporate teams experience in months – fast development from a simple idea into a prototype that is ready to be piloted.

Sunday consisted mainly of finalizing and perfecting the prototypes and rehearsing for the final pitches. In the evening, the teams gathered to present their ideas for a panel of judges. OP Lab was also represented by development manager Tuomas Jomppanen. According to him, the most valuable aspect of being part and supporting these events is the fresh ideas that come from outside of the corporate shield.

On Sunday it was amazing to see how much both the participants and ideas had developed and grown. Every participant got an unique experience of the startup world in an ideal setting, going as far as already having customers or even revenue after the 54-hour event. These events are not only beneficial for the participants; the mentors, organizers and judges all get to practice their own skills and access to not only a local community of entrepreneurs and startups but also to future talents.