Tuukka Ylälahti stopped by Finlandia Fridays this week to talk about his revolutionary new app Mesensei. Ylälahti is the co-founder of Mesensei, a startup company working on “mentorship programs in support of learning, entrepreneurship and social inclusion.” The program and Ylälahti have visited various universities in America to see how the program would do in the American market. With close ties to Finland, Finlandia seemed like the obvious choice to lay some ground work.
Ylälahti started by talking about how Mesensei came to be. In 2009, the Finn created a company called Cabforce. In five years, Cabforce grew from one city to 230 cities world-wide. Eventually he sold off the company. Success for Ylälahti was based off what he knew and read about startups based in Silicon Valley, and for him he saw Cabforce as a failure, since the experience was not similar to what he read about. That experience encouraged Ylälahti to advocate that success is not defined by making it to Silicon Valley, but to look locally and see what can be improved upon there. The idea for Mesensei was “unintentional,” said Ylälahti, who was spending his time mentoring various startups. He realized that he was not keeping track of the time he was mentoring and that not everyone is comfortable reaching out to those with more experience. Ylälahti wondered if this problem could be solved digitally. Learning that multiple members of his team had similar experience, a prototype was soon born.
Mesensei is currently available for both Apple and Android products, but the app is not fully available said Ylälahti “because content is still being ramped up.”
Finlandia is a prime opportunity to test the app due to the smaller nature of the school. Larger schools are more bureaucratic said Ylälahti, so the incorporation of new ideas and new programs takes several years to really diffuse into the culture of larger universities. Ylälahti stated “if we are successful here [at Finlandia], it is something we could copy across the United States and in Europe too.”
Finlandia and Mesensei are looking for students and alumni who are willing to participate in the program. If interested, contact Kevin Manninen for more details.
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