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Students in field

First ‘Testing Tuesday’ event showcases health and fitness startups

November 18, 2020

On Tuesday, November 17, MTEC SmartZone personnel, Finlandia International School of Business (ISB) students and faculty, and others participated in the first international virtual Testing Tuesday event hosted by the Finnish-based student entrepreneurial community, XES Helsinki. XES Helsinki is located at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, one of Finlandia’s key Finnish partner institutes.

Set up similarly to the popular American TV show Shark Tank, the meetings consist of three startups, who each get three minutes to present their companies, and a panel of ‘judges’ who ask questions to learn more about the companies and determine which they would like to work more with. FinnU was well represented with ISB dean Kevin Manninen, assistant professor of management Nathan Perreault, assistant professor of sports management Steve Nordstrom and numerous FinnU students in attendance. Additional UP and area partners present included MTEC SmartZone’s Jason Mack, Michigan Tech senior lecturer of management John Leinonen, the Small Business Development Center’s Daniel Yoder, and Patrick Visser of FinnZone

The three startups that presented, Cuckoo Workout, StepOut and ViLike, were all focused on exercise and fitness.

Overall, I felt this event was a huge success and an excellent collaboration for Finlandia to connect with potential students and partners for the future” said Perreault. “We are hoping to gather entrepreneurs from our local area, along with potential students from Finlandia, to share their ideas in the near future. This is only the start to the awesome partnership we have established and is only going to grow.”

startup 1: Cuckoo Workout

The first company to pitch was a break-exercise app called Cuckoo Workout, founded by Veera Lehmonen. The app is focused on keeping offices energized, by reminding users three times a day to get up and move. Employees can complete different exercises to level up within the app. It also incorporates mindfulness audios; perfect for a stressful day at the office.

Companies can have competitions internally among employees, or externally against other organizations. The software works in a browser or as an app on a smartphone.  With 25,000 users in 16 different countries, Cuckoo is gaining popularity in helping offices keep their employees energized and motivated. 

startup 2: StepOut

The second company to present was StepOut, which creates a platform for fitness trainers and trainees to connect. StepOut is a phone app that allows trainers to handle their appointments and lets users find different types of trainers and styles of exercises all in one. The trainers are charged a 30 percent commission, and the users of the app pay a monthly fee. According to presenters, Tarnjit Saini and Sanni Ishfaq, trainers and clients alike are loving StepOut, with 50 trainers and over 400 members just in the city of Helsinki alone. 

stepout xes helsinki

startup3: ViLike

The final company was ViLike, which was presented by Kirsi Ekberg. This platform allows children to interact with Artificial Intelligence in order to motivate them to exercise and stay healthy. The app also uses the AI to monitor the child’s skills, slowly adjusting them to keep them challenged, rather than using the same exercises repeatedly and losing the child’s interest. One example of this that Ekberg shared is that there is an AI panda that is sad until the child starts to exercise and play with it and then it becomes happy again.

A student’s take on testing tuesday

For FinnU business student, Laison Ruonavaara, the StepOut venture was the winner of the day.  

“Sanni and Tarnjit explained their product thoroughly,” said Ruonavaara. “They explained the purpose of their product and the reason why their product matters. They have a great website; it captures my attention, and makes me want to be a member of their product. I see great success for their product as they enter the U.S. market, because of our large basis of personal trainers.

“Don’t get me wrong, the other two products also have great potential. They all explained their products well, and they didn’t have a problem answering questions from the panel. They all knew their products like the back of their hand, which is key for success. If someone is unsure of their product, how will they be successful? I was surprised that all three of their products related to mental health, fitness and education in some way, which is very important during this pandemic. Thank you, XES Helsinki Student Entrepreneurial Community, and I wish success for the future.”

The FinnZone partners, which includes Finlandia, will continue to work with XES to explore how to assist the companies that presented in possibly entering the US market. In addition, more company presentations as well as other cooperation between our region and XES are in the works.

For more information about XES Helsinki’s international meetings, reach out to Kevin Danks at ktdanks@finlandia.edu.

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