JA Start Up students bring entrepreneurship to the game

13.3.2014 2014

Students from Turku engaged in JA’s Start Up program showed the PreGame audience at a hockey game how to give to give a convincing elevator speech.


Could you compact a business idea into four minutes?

Niko Vähäsarja and Henrik Skogström, students from Humak University of Applied Sciences and Turku School of Economics respectively, are finalizing their presentation at JA’s Start Up company stand. A Dragon’s Den -style pitching competiting at the HK Arena in Turku is just minutes away.

In the picture Henrik Skogström and Niko Vähäsarja.

Niko’s and Henrik’s JA Company Näyttämö offers pop-up services in Turku city center. They bring together empty business premises and enterprises in need of visibility. Their changing pop-up stores also bring new experiences to Turku citizens and more life to the streetscape.

“Web stores, for example, could be interested in a service like this. We already have one mentor, but we hope that the jury today can give us more concrete advice on how to run our business,” the young men say.

The JA Start Up pitching competition is a part of the PreGame event, an entrepreneurship-centered expo before the night’s TPS-Pelicans game. Johanna Vainio from YES Finland Proper was responsible for the event’s student-oriented program. According to her, in addition to business and public administration representatives, over a thousand students and their teachers are participating in the event. The pitching competition therefore provides a learning experience also to the interested students in the audience.

”This is a great opportunity for JA Start Up Companies to gather experience and good advice. The cream of business life, so to speak, is attending and we want to give our students a chance to make use of their experience and skills,” Vainio says.

The list of jury members is indeed impressive: investor and ex-Supercell chair of the board Petteri Koponen, KPMG’s Niklas Oikia, Turku OP-Pohjola Group’s Gitta Nirhamo, and financing company Gothia’s Turo Jokinen all review the JA Student Companies’ elevator speeches.

Three other JA Companies are participating in the competition in addition to Näyttämö: Pitchdea, Blokut NY, and Appition.

The participating JA Companies were founded last fall as the JA Start Up program started again in Finnish colleges and universities. Today’s competition is good practice for the program’s final competition: in May the best college-level JA Company will be chosen in Helsinki. The winner gets to represent Finland in the JA Start Up European Championship competition in Berlin.

blokut2Blokut NY. In the middle Johanna Vainio hosting the event. 

The pitching competition today is held in English, which adds its own level of tension for the participants. However, the students’ presentations are clearly well prepared and rehearsed. The jury is also left convinced, although there is always room for improvement. The JA Companies receive advice on how to enhance their presentation methods and structure, and of course new perspectives to and suggestions on how to clarify their business idea and take their activities to the next level.

Näyttämö’s business idea receives compliments.

”It’d be great if the Turku city centre, and even other cities, would get a boost of activity,” Gitta Nirhamo says.

appitionAppition listens straight-faced what the jury has to say.

Other jury members see potential in Näyttämö’s idea as well, and the young entrepreneurs receive plenty of advice on how to implement and expand their service.

At the end of the competition, the jury chooses the best pitch. Victory goes to Pitchdea, whose business idea is to create a web service for sharing, discussing, and developing ideas.

“The presentation method was unique, the presentation itself good and memorable,” Turo Jokinen comments on the victor.

Näyttämö’s boys find the competition useful, even if victory slipped from their hands.

”I was so tense I couldn’t remember everything I had memorized earlier,” Vähäsarja confesses.

”But we did get a nice amount of good feedback, though some of it we had heard before. Personally, I noticed that we have to practice more. I also caught myself looking at the projector screen too much. It’d be also good to change the slides by myself so I wouldn’t have to give signals in the middle of the presentation,” he continues.

pitchdeaThe winner. Pitchdea was awarded with  Taivas + Helvetti  books.

[su_vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/88888195″]

See how Näyttämö pitched their idea!

[su_vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/88882986″]

And here’s Pitchdea’s elevator speech.

More photos on Google+.

JA Start Up Finals will be held on May 8 in Helsinki with the Yritystä Stadiin event. JA Companies can register for the finals until March 29.

In Turku region JA Start Up program is organized in collaboration with thee universities as a multidisciplinary course. More information from Johanna Vainio and YES Finland Proper.

PreGame was held on March 11, 2014 at HK Arena in Turku. The event is annual. Read more: pregame.fi

Interested in the students’ ideas and companies? Read more and become a beta tester:


kaduilla.fi (Blokut NY:n verkkoportaali)




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