Topic outline

  • General

    Welcome to the spring 2019 edition of the Startup Experience.

    In the Startup Experience course you learn skills that help you create a new business or even set up your own startup!  As an entrepreneur you have two main goals:

    1. Discover what your customers and users value and then create that value for them.
    2. Set up and run a small organization to achieve goal number 1.

    Most entrepreneurial courses treat these two as separate things but the Startup Experience course will combine them into one learning experience. In the course you will become part of a team that - in parallel - works on creating value for customers and manages the team as if it was a start-up.

    After having completed the Startup Experience course, you will be better prepared to navigate the fast-paced and unpredictable commercial environment. You will be able to turn customer understanding and business and technology opportunities into new products and services. While the focus of the course is on setting up a new business as a start-up, most of the skills you will learn are equally valuable in the context of existing companies.


    The course will suit a person who is adaptive, collaborative and creatively driven. Who is interested in going beyond conventional thinking practices to create effective teams and commercial value.

    The Startup experience course

    What do students of the Startup Experience think about the course? To find out, what this video with Sean Corr, an exchange student at Aalto. Sean talks about his experience at Aalto and in particular what he learned by participating in the Startup Experience course. 


    Combined courses and available credits

    You can combine Startup Experience with the course TU-E4130 - Refresher on Business Research (1 ECTS).

    The course TU-E4130 - Refresher on Business Research is intended for students with no previous experience in user-driven design or user research. It introduces key design concepts and tools that help students perform better in the Startup Experience course. TU-E4130 can only be taken together with Startup Experience. 

    So if you need/want 10 ECTS you can take Startup Experience + U-E4130 - Refresher on Business Research


    The course is open to all Aalto students. To register for the course, you should take these two steps:

    1. Register on Oodi
    2. Upload a personal CV on the Participant CV's page (only available when you are logged in to mycourses)

    If you want to act as the CEO for one of the course teams, you should also upload a separate application for the CEO role to the CEO applications section.

    Participation is limited. The priority order for student selection is:

    - Students for whom the course is mandatory

    - Students that have chosen the AVP Startup Minor

    - Other students so that the student base is as multidisciplinary as possible.

    The deadline for the registration is January 7, 2019. The course starts with 3 kick-off sessions (Tuesday, January 8 09:00-12:00, Wednesday, January 9 09:00 - 12:00 and Thursday, January 10 14:00 - 16:00). You must participate in all 3 kick-off sessions in order to be accepted to the course. Final acceptance happens only after the Team formation day on January 15.

    How much will you work

    The course runs for the two periods. Each week there are two contact sessions, one workshop and pitching session on Tuesdays 9-12 and a lecture session on Thursdays 14-16. The Tuesday session is focused on value creation, ie discovering and defining the product or service that the teams are working towards. The Thursday session is focused on operation topics such as teamwork, leadership, finance, marketing and operations.

    The expected workload of this 9 ECTS course is ca 250h, which translates to a weekly workload of ca 20h including the 5 hours of mandatory class time each week. There will be team deadlines on most weeks, so we recommend that you do not take another large project course while participating in this one.

    What will you learn

    The objective of the course and of the teams is to use good lean and agile practices to research a user need or desire, define a business (product or service, business model, pricing etc) to fulfil the need and manage the team towards successful implementation of the business.

    In the course you will learn three different skill sets:

    1. Defining and validating a business based on deep customer and user insights and business testing.
    2. Developing yourself as a team member, learning about your own strengths and how to apply those strengths in multidisciplinary teamwork.
    3. Gaining insight into the management of day-to-day operations in a small company including marketing, finance and operations. 

    As the main purpose of the course is to teach good practices and methods, grading will be based on the team's working practices and methods.

    How we work

    The course is a project course where students will form small companies (read: teams). These companies develop a new business and also manage the company in a simulation of how you would manage a small startup.

    The teams will be formed by team CEOs. Anyone joining the course can apply to act as a CEO. The CEOs main role is to hire the team from the course participants at the beginning of the course. Having an own business idea helps in hiring but is not mandatory.

    Once the team has been formed, all members will in turn act as the person in charge of the team's operations, we call this role COO (Chief Operating Officer). This means that all participants will, in turn, get a chance to practice their leadership skills.

    Learning from leadership and teamwork experiences will be supported in special team-specific coaching sessions throughout the course. The coaching sessions will provide the teams and participants with an opportunity to reflect on experiences, assess mutual teamwork, and get personal feedback.


    The course is graded 0-5. The basis for the grade is the team performance. In addition, personal performance will be evaluated based on how well each student performs in their COO role and in the final oral exam. The personal grade will be +-1 grade point from the team or Fail. 

    More information

    For more information, contact the course teachers:
    Håkan Mitts,
    Lidia Borisova,
    Jari Ylitalo,