An entrepreneurial story from Helsinki

My name is Mariyana, an Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Data Science student, originally coming from Bulgaria, who just spent an Erasmus semester at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland. In the following blogpost, I would like to motivate you, dear readers, to dive into as many practical projects and international challenges WU offers by telling you about my personal experiences.

After finishing the two E&I project courses based on practical experience and networking with professionals in the field of entrepreneurship, I noticed that my confidence and abilities to get up and create something of my own have increased immensely. Consequently, as I was looking at the huge variety of partner universities for a semester abroad, I chose Finland: The country famous for its friendly entrepreneurial ecosystem and innovative thinking embedded in every aspect of everyday life – from education and professional development to simple free-time activities. This Finnish reputation was supported by inspiring companies’ stories spreading around the globe – Nokia, Rovio, Supercell, and Marimekko to name a few.

Planning a start-up in Helsinki

I was curious to see what makes Finland so successful in the field I am strongly passionate about, so I applied and spent four very eventful months there. I was surrounded by inspiring people and an exceptional support system for young entrepreneurs motivated to fulfill their role in improving the world. Throughout the myriad of events, clubs, and organizations, people with a forward-thinking mindset could not only network with each other but also find the support needed to implement their ideas. I was lucky enough for one of my courses to include a sustainable venture creation competition where my team and I were challenged to develop a fit for market-entry start-up supporting one of the Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations. I am proud to say that our team’s pitch won the competition and the idea is still being developed with the support of Hanken Business Lab and members of the jury. Fingers crossed that it will soon enter the market.

From left to right: Mariyana Angelova, Carl Rosenius, Onni Larri and Saskia Tykkyläinen.

I must say that the best part of this whole adventure was getting to know many successful Finnish entrepreneurs like Peter Vesterbacka, who is well known for his help in the development of Angry Birds and the start of the Slush conference. Listening to their masterclasses and soaking in their mentality and sense of responsibility for the state of the world we live in strongly influenced my worldview. Conversations with such people give valuable lessons for the future and a new perspective on your own goals and “action plans”.

I would like to conclude that the innovative ways of teaching I got to witness during my time in E&I and my semester in Helsinki had a huge influence on my future professional plans and belief in myself. I feel better prepared for the next challenges on the horizon and highly motivated to continue participating in such international projects.

From left to right: Kristian von Essen, Onni Larri, Mariyana Angelova, Carl Rosenius and Saskia Tykkyläinen.