Students develop business ideas and seek to alleviate current crisis

The current emergency situation has brought both major changes and inspiration to the University of Tartu Startup Lab’s Starter Tartu business idea development programme. Teams formed in the University of Tartu Delta Centre in February continue to develop ideas virtually, also offering solutions to alleviate the corona crisis.

Startup Lab's business development programme Starter Tartu started on 27 February with Idea Hackathon, where 18 teams were formed. Their ideas were mostly related to music, healthcare, environment and technology. Team QS members who participated in the opening event said that the Estonian business landscape is ready for new ideas. People who can guide or help you are just one or two phone calls away.

Sharing sheet music, sorting garbage and mental health as some of the ideas

Team Soil is developing a web application that gathers all sheet music files together in one place. The application allows easily and conveniently to share music sheets with students or band members and, if necessary, add comments. The team members are musicians who find that using paper sheets is not only a waste of paper but also causes a lot of problems. “We have received good feedback from mentors and also found the first users who are testing our service, with great interest,” said Kristjan Pärn, a student at the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Tartu and the leader of the Soil team.

The Sorter team is developing a mobile application that helps people sort waste correctly, using barcodes. The idea came from the fact that quite often people come across packages that are hard to sort because of conflicting information. The topic is important for the whole team, and thanks to good cooperation, they are moving towards a solution.

In the current emergency situation where mental health problems are on the rise, services to address these problems are becoming increasingly important. Mindlift is a platform that connects those in need of help with mental health experts. They can communicate with selected experts on the platform either by messaging, phone call or video, without long waiting times or expensive service fees. Many members of Starter Tartu, including team Mindlift members, participated in The Global Hack to contribute to finding solutions to the corona crisis. At The Global Hack, team Mindlift completed its first prototype and ranked in the top 14 in the mental health category out of hundreds of teams. “The COVID-19 outbreak has had a really big impact on everyone’s life and the opportunity to find even small solutions to problems it causes is really motivating,” said MindLift team members.

The programme is successfully running during emergency situation

On 5 March, the teams participated at the Business Model Canvas workshop led by mentor and business model expert Taavi Tamm. On 12 March, the Pitching ABC workshop was led by Harald Lepisk. Under his guidance, the teams practiced presenting their products and services to their potential customers and learned how to leave a memorable impression.

In order to continue with the programme during the emergency situation, the most anticipated event “Mentor Feedback Carousel” had to be organised online. Meetings with experts and specialists provide valuable advice and necessary contacts for further development of ideas. While earlier mentors and teams met on a certain day, this year’s event lasted more than several weeks. The teams found the meetings productive and forward-looking. Oliver Tomson, a medical student at the University of Tartu and head of team MindLift, said that meetings with mentors helped to set a better vision and an action plan to get there.

The Product and Service Design workshop, led by the co-founder of Nevercode Triin Kask, was held online for the first time. The webinar took place on 2 April with over 40 people attending. The participants were satisfied with the opportunity to get involved directly from their home and suggested using this format for future events. They also praised Triin for giving very good examples.

The next events of the Startup Lab’s Starter Tartu programme will take place in the form of webinars and are open to all. Participants will gain knowledge about marketing, finance and idea presentation. The programme ends with students’ pitching competition Kaleidoskoop, which is held online.

The University of Tartu Startup Lab is a subunit of the School of Economics and Business Administration. It provides hands-on entrepreneurship education and pre-incubation services. Teams who have joined the Starter Tartu business development programme participate in workshops supervised by mentors, who are start-up founders and entrepreneurs from different business sectors.

Further information: Andres Vaher, Marketing and Communications Specialist, Startup Lab, University of Tartu, +372 5558 7359,