Topic outline

  • General

    [Startup Experience Fall 2020 will be online until new Aalto policy]

    Do you want to learn about how to create new business and make an impact? Do you want to join or set up a startup within sustainable development goals (SDGs)? In the Startup Experience course, you will learn useful skills to help you get new businesses off the ground! 

    Startup Experience teaches students how to run an early stage, scalable startup to create social and economic value while solving a sustainability-related problem. The course provides an entrepreneurial mindset and capabilities. 

    Within the course, students will work on venture ideas within Sustainable Development Goals. 

    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.

    Startup experience course

    What do students of the Startup Experience think about the course? 

    This is what Bas Burma, CEO of CodeSandbox, thought about the course:

    "The startup experience course helped me get more insight into specific parts of entrepreneurship like Finance and Strategy. These insights are really useful because as an entrepreneur you fulfil different roles in your startup and need to know a bit about everything"

    After the course, Bas and his co-founder Ives van Hoorne, raised $2.4M seed funding for their company (that they has started already before Bas joined Startup Experience).

    And this is what Sean Corr, an exchange student at Aalto, thought about. In the video, Sean talks about his experience at Aalto and in particular what he learned by participating in the Startup Experience course. 



    The course is open to all Aalto students. To registration could be done on Oodi 

    Participation is limited. 

    Registrations will be prioritized in the following order: 
    1. Students for whom the course is mandatory (EIT Business Development Lab, AMIS) 
    2. Students that have chosen the AVP Startup Minor 
    3. Other students so that the student base is as multidisciplinary as possible 

    The deadline for the registration is September 14, 2020. The course starts with 3 kick-off sessions (Tuesday, Sep 8, 09:15-12:00, Wednesday, Sep 9, 09:15 - 12:00 and Sep 10, 14:15 - 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 Sep 15th.

    NOTE: This also applies to students for whom the course is mandatory.

    Before or simultaneously with Startup experience course we recommend you to take 2 credits online course “Starting up” - and/or 1 credit online course TU-C2080 Entrepreneurship Essentials.

    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 09:15-12:00 and a lecture session on Thursdays 14:15-16:00. The Tuesday session is focused on value creation, 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 243h, which translates to the weekly workload of approximately ca 20h during the two first teaching periods of autumn 2020 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 objectives of the course and the teams are 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 different skill sets:
      • To identify sustainable and scalable business opportunities 

      • To pitch business ideas and ventures  

      • To apply knowledge about marketing, user research, idea validation, experimentation and prototyping, and financial literacy for one’s endeavour 

      • To work in and lead diverse teams  

      • To work effectively with different tools for team working and communicating remotely 

      • To take ownership and responsibility for one’s own work 

      • To develop self-awareness and self-management skills, including time management and personal wellbeing 

      • To think outside the box and be more innovative 

      • To cope with challenges and know how to fail & pivot after having practised resilience in safe environment 

      • To think critically and through ethical and sustainable lenses 

      The pedagogy is experiential, hands-on learning which exposes students (as far as possible) to real-world challenges and overcoming them using the entrepreneurial process. The course includes mostly workshops and hands-on team assignments based on venture ideas. 

    Below you can see out course outcome in terms of company pitches by two teams from the Spring 2019 course. 




    Experience what it’s like to found and run a startup, without actually having to set up a company. During this course, you will learn the essentials of entrepreneurship: user-centred product and service design, business ethics and sustainability, opportunity recognition, business modelling, teamwork, pitching, startup finance and marketing. That is, everything you need to navigate the fast-paced and unpredictable commercial environment, or even become a founder. 

    While the focus of the course is on setting up a new business as a startup, 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. 

    During the course, students work in small start-up teams that together go from initial problem definition all the way to the final investor pitchTeamwork is one of the main learning skills of the course and simultaneously one of the biggest challenges for students. Throughout the course, students will have team dynamic clinics and reflections to support the teamwork. At AVP, students don’t just work in groups but build actual teams. 

    The course takes a firm stand in preventing burnouts which is why students will also learn about time management and focus on personal wellbeing. By the end of the course, students will not only have created a new venture but also gone through the project in a sustainable way. Through different exercises, students will be able to turn wellbeing-boost lessons into life-long skills. 

    How we work

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

    The teams will choose the topics to proceed with. Thus, students can have their own business idea within the topic of SDGs. It is not mandatory, but if you are convincing enough, your team might work on your topic.

    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.

    In addition to project and team working track, all students will follow Good Life Engine track by maintaining well-being and/or self-development routines during the course.

    Grading System for Startup Experience

    The course is graded 0-5. 

    80% - team grade

    30% - Final pitch
    20% - Pitches 2,3,4,5
    30% - Team assignments

    20% - individual grade (individual exam)

    More Information

    For more information, contact the course assistant:

    Teddy Duy Tran,, AVP

    Course teachers:
    Lidia Borisova,, AVP
    Heidi Mikkonen,, AVP