UT Startup Lab proves that entrepreneurial education is possible online

Starter Tartu spring programme comes to an end with the spring semester. This semester was a challenge for both the Startup Lab and the students, because instead of physical meetings, all activities were organised online. Nevertheless, a large number of enterprising students completed the programme.

Due to the corona pandemic, Startup Lab had to replace the usual workshops with webinars. It also had its advantages: Zoom offered a good opportunity to participate, regardless of location, and so the programme was very successful. A total of 65 students from several universities of Tartu came to the idea hackathon, and 13 teams were formed of them. In total, 12 teams completed the programme at the Kaleidoskoop pre-selection.

As always, the programme included a vital mentor feedback carousel, which this time took place during a whole week. The teams received good advice from 19 mentors and a total of almost 40 meetings took place, helping the students to set clearer goals. The semester ended with the students’ business ideas competition Kaleidoskoop, the best teams of which will have the opportunity to present their ideas in the finals at the business festival Startup Day in Tartu on 27 August.

The first fully web-based Starter programme proved that even during the corona pandemic, it is possible to learn business, find new contacts and develop business ideas. According to Maret Ahonen, the Startup Lab manager, Starter Tartu teams showed incredible motivation from the idea hackathon all the way through to the pitching ABC webinar. “There were no contact events or meetings with the teams or mentors this semester, but the participants worked hard nonetheless and the knowledge gained from each webinar helped them move one step further. This proves once again that where there is a will, there is a way,” said Ahonen.

Tõnu Niilo, a member of the Breaking Work team, said that moving the programme online was the only suitable solution for him. “If entrepreneurial education had not been online during the time of the Covid-19 restrictions, the whole business and start-up world would probably have remained far from me for a long time. I recommend participating in the Starter programme because it is a good opportunity to do something exciting in addition to your main job and studies,” said Niilo.

Every year, UT Startup Lab organises the Starter Tartu programme, during which students acquire the knowledge necessary for creating a start-up company. During the programme, they get an overview of the company’s business plan, marketing, product or service development, and much more. The next Starter starts on 16 September, and then, hopefully, it can be organised as an in-person or at least hybrid event.

In the Startup Lab, students find a safe environment for their business ideas, where they are supported by training, mentors and contacts, and helped to take the first steps to implement the idea.

The Starter programme is funded by the European Social Fund.

Further information: Martti Saarme, Communication and Marketing Specialist, Startup Lab, University of Tartu, 5909 4726, martti.saarme@ut.ee