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Visiting the NHL Hogeschool in Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Exchanging people, Exchanging minds

During the Event seven Savonia Students (all from International Business) and 9 students from NHL Hogeschool worked together on developing innovative Business ideas. The three main challenges and gains were the formation of a working group, developing new, innovative ideas and acquiring feedback. We gathered different, interesting ideas that resulted into the fact that a lot of us currently see new business opportunities in everyday life situations. Lastly, and maybe most importantly we had to learn how to work with feedback and how to improve based on that input.

Brief summary of the Programme:

First we did some Team-Building, getting to know each other and whom we were about to work with. Tuesday we formed groups, did a lot of Brainstorming and started to work on the Business Model Canvas (BMC). Wednesday we finished the BMC. Thursday we worked on a promotional video, the design of our stands, flyers and a sales pitch. An all days we had lectures by renowned professors, giving us input on topics such as developing a good BMC, writing a Business Plan (by Abdelazim Hannoura and Virpi Oksanen) and producing a good promotional video. We also enjoyed workshops concerning the sales pitch and how to represent ourselves.

What makes a good idea a business idea?

When developing concepts, discussing others’ ideas and generally working on the subject following points seemed rather important to us.

A good business idea has to tackle following points:

It needs to be current and up-to date
Everyday problems are the best source (food being thrown away, extensive shopping, lack of time and exercise…)
It should help others, preferably a certain target group
It needs to produce some kind of profit/value for both the company but also the interest group; for example monetary profit, time efficiency, ethical value…
It should be ethical

It is all about the right idea

What we discovered is that starting an own company needs two major things: The right idea and enough motivation. If you discover an area that has an issue that has not been tackled yet and you now a suitable solution that will generate enough profit then you are good to go.

Some ideas that were represented at our small Business fair were…

Train in a train. The idea was to save time by having fitness compartments in trains. The group tested a new sport, that allows you to do sports without sweating and believed that this could be an effective way to get people to exercise. (Finnish group-member: Valeriy Ivanov)
A more efficient shopping experience. Focusing on the head of the family, the one that does all the shopping, this group wanted to provide a more fluent and time-saving shopping experience. They focused on the time-wasting aspect of standing in lines and the extensive search for hidden products. Their solution is for one an app, guiding you trough the market as well as a scanner on the shopping carts, registering every product you put into your cart. This then lets the cashier just take the final sum and you save a lot of time. (Finnish group-members: Riina Vovk, Susanna Kuohula)
Fresh minds, new outcome: Euro-American Business Event. This project was more one of Event-Management then opening a new Business. Its goal is to bring students from all over Europe and America together to work on current issues companies encounter. Companies provide issues and students fresh minds. The advantages for the companies are comparatively cheap solutions and new input as well as the option to find new employees. For the students the benefit is the gain of practical experience as well as the opportunity to find a future employer.  It is a win-win situation for both companies and students. (Finnish group-members: Valerie Berger, Jade Jimenez)
Remains to Frame: waste food and how to reuse it. The idea was to decrease the amount of food that supermarkets throw away every day. Why not to use it and have restaurant with good, healthy food as well as low prices, for students. Once can help the world on bite at the time. (Finnish group-members: Gerly Matihaldi, Visa Vilpponen)
More ideas? Other ideas included an App to connect students that struggle and tutors in university, water bottles that offer a possibility to store juice extract and insert it at any point during the day, a cheap and easy way for students to travel and sleep at other places and many more.

Presenting yourself and the idea

First thing you need to consider when presenting yourself and your idea is to show your enthusiasm and passion for your topic. When doing your sales pitch you need to get your audience excited for your product or idea and the best thing to be able to make this happen is to have a clear, positive body language. Use powerful and beautiful words and create a natural connection with your audience. You might for example ask the audience questions to make it easier for them to get in contact with you. When you are doing your pitch avoid on reading it from a piece of paper. Practice it over and over again so that you are able to memorize it. That is how others see that you actually are excited about this, that your enthusiasm comes naturally and it is also easier for you to make contact with the audience when there is not a piece of paper between you and them.

When your potential clients ask you questions about your product always remember a good eye contact and open body language to make them feel comfortable and welcome. If you are asked tricky questions never say things like “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”. Negative sentences take way your credibility and might scare away your potential clients. Also, if someone thinks they could be able to make the product better somehow show them that you are interested in their thoughts and ideas and nod politely and promise to take their idea for consideration – even if you know for sure you would never do that but it is good business to make others feel like their ideas are appreciated.

Amazing Food and a Business Event for Students

Seven nominations were made out of all the projects. (Student nominations, Teacher nominations, Company nominations…)

Two of our groups got nominated which were Remains to Frame and the Euro-American Business Event. Remains to Frame was not only nominated once, but in total three times. Unsurprisingly it also won the prize.

Final words

A lot was learned during those couple days and it surely will benefit us a lot in the future. Our next challenge is to write a Business Plan together with our partners of the NHL until February where they will visit us here in Kuopio. Together we will finalize the project for Oivalla Fair and maybe one or two of them can actually become reality.

Written by Valerie Berger, Gerly Matihaldi, Visa Vilpponen, Riina Vovk

Savonia UAS

Savonia is one of Finland's biggest and most versatile universities of applied sciences. Our campuses are situated in Kuopio, Iisalmi and Varkaus. There are almost 6000 students and 600 employees at Savonia. In education we implement Open Innovation Space (OIS), where we combine learning, development, research, and teaching.