The Innovate or Die experience

IOD – Innovate or Die experience
By Andres Mendez

When I heard of Innovate or Die for the first time, I felt that it was something I want it to do.
It really caught my attention the idea of working together with people from other universities in a project from a real company with a real problem. Also the chance to make some extra money seemed like a good idea.
So I signed up hoping to have a good time and to connect with new people.

And yes it was… The experience was great! I was so lucky to be able to work with an international team and to learn a lot from them.
The challenge was not only to be able to come up with a good idea for our company but to be able to function as a team.

Photo by: Lauri Kavio-oja

As a team we functioned well, we divided the different tasks and areas of work according to our gifts and expertise. The process of working together helped us to realise that even though we have such a different background and formation, all of our differences helped us to keep a good flow instead of tearing us apart.
We respected each other and and every idea was a good idea.

I believe every participant will give their own opinion according to their experience but something I take with me are all those things that I had to face, things that I was not comfortable about myself and I am happy to tell that I could overcome. It was a great experience and a honour to be part of one of the winner teams. As far as academically speaking, I earned 2 credits.

Photo by: IOD media team

For more information about Innovate or Die in Finland please follow the link: http://www.innovateordie.eu/en/home/

Dream Big

DaretoDream

Entrepreneurship is a way of life and most of the time, it’s attitude that counts.DaretoDream

In the beginning of this week I had the honor to attend SeiES Dare to Dream event and give a speech about my thoughts of entrepreneurship. Once again, thanks to SeiES for granting me opportunity to speak in the event and I’m happy to help in the future. Here’s the speech in text form below.

My story:

These fine SeiES people have put up a society which was launched in the end of April this year. Within this five months of society’s existence, this is a second event I’m attending to, yet there’s been almost three months of summer holiday during this five months. First time I heard about entrepreneurship societies, was in the end of May this year. My good friend and co-owner of our company took part of Get Together event in Tampere. He met people from other societies and found out that there was one launched in Seinäjoki too. So I sought information about these societies, got excited about it, contacted these people and here we are.

I find the role of these entrepreneurship societies very important. They bring together people with same kind of mindset. The entrepreneur’s mindset. But besides of bringing together people they can also provide information about entrepreneurship for those who are not yet sure whether they want to be entrepreneurs now or little later.  However, students are perfect soil to shape the attitudes towards entrepreneurship since they are the influencers of the future. The point is not to make everyone as an entrepreneur but to increase the understanding about importance of entrepreneurship. There’s no doubt that companies and their entrepreneurs are the cornerstone of economy. More they grow, the more they gather good people around them to work with. In some occasions it’s also called employment. Everyone here probably understands benefits so there’s no reason to continue this list.

As from the educational point of view, I find the entrepreneurship as a valuable period of study. No matter how you succeed but entrepreneurship is always a lesson. You have to master various areas of business from finance to leadership. Specially the latter. Entrepreneur is always a leader. When you employ people, you must lead them. Even if you work alone, you have to lead yourself. Entrepreneur has the liberty to work whenever, wherever and however he or she decides. But liberty is the greatest prison of all time. Or at least that’s what Finnish punk band Pelle Miljoona sang. It means, if you can’t lead yourself to perform well enough, the liberty will turn against you and eventually you’ll fail. Fortunately leading yourself is not rocket science but normal people with common sense will do just fine.

Tonight’s topic is Dream Big. Core idea of company or a business is to grow. In Finland we’ve gone wrong with the business culture since we admire businesses that produce the same turnover year after year with little profit out of it. But business and entrepreneurship is about taking risks. Controlled risks. Some years, specially in company’s early years may the financial statement show negative numbers. But sometimes it’s inevitable because of investments for example. Of course there’s nothing bad about steady income and stable business. If it’s your passion, then by all means, you’re free to do whatever you want with your business. I don’t mean to categorize entrepreneurs here. I find no entrepreneur better than the other. Common thing for most of entrepreneurs is a dream or vision about something to achieve. If you dream of monthly income of 2000€, that’s what you work for. If you dream of building a car that doesn’t need a human to drive, then that’s what you work for. Our dream is the key thing. It is the throttle to an engine. When you stop dreaming the engine will run but it runs with low and steady pace that doesn’t take you forward. Dreaming big makes you reach for things and work harder. That’s how you move forward. Sharing your dream with others makes you more engaged with your dream and again makes you work harder to achieve what you dream of.

Our company’s history goes back to 1989 when our father-in-law started his debt collection agency. His dream was to be an entrepreneur, to be responsible of his own actions and to have the liberty to spend his own time however he wanted. Debt collection business has gone through many changes within those 28 years and company has changed as well. But the biggest change of company took place in the end of last year. Our father-in-law decided to retire and pass his dream on to next generation.

I have a military background. I’ve been working for state for about fifteen years. First time I ever considered entrepreneurship was more than ten years ago. It all started with network marketing and I pretty quickly noticed that it wasn’t for me. Then couple of years of silence and then I began to train football and basketball referees and consult with transportation of dangerous goods on road. (Pretty similar branches as you can imagine). As a full time entrepreneur I started in beginning of this year. I find myself meticulous, punctual and active person. These features helped me in my work as military officer but I’ve found them good features for entrepreneur also. Yet, in my opinion, one of the most important features in entrepreneurship is knowing your numbers. I love numbers. Loving them is not necessary but you have to know them. Or at least you must have someone with as big interest as yours working with you who knows the numbers. If you don’t know such numbers as turnover, expenses and cashflow, you better go and work for someone else. Also choosing people you want to work with is one of the great benefits of entrepreneurship.

One of the hardest parts of military work was taking orders from superiors when you knew you could’ve done the task better with your own way. Of course the entrepreneurship is full of challenges and human relationships are not sunshine and happiness all the time but when you choose how you spend your time the odds that you spend more time with friends are better. And good friends are something that make this extra fun. I probably wouldn’t have jumped out of the social security network and begun to employ myself unless there was my good friend and equal owner of our company, Juha. And even if I did start by myself, the company wouldn’t be in this state after nine months. We make a perfect team. Juha has the skills to marketing and sales and I love numbers and administration. We are sharing a same dream and same values.

With our company, we also have a dream. We want to grow and eventually we want to be the most wanted partner in credit management business. That is our vision that is printed behind our business cards and stands on our website. Our core values are helping, appreciation, quality, punctuality and lifetime learning. We aim to change the debt collection business. We aim to improve the image of debt collection business and make it sound more positive. Our focus is in helping companies to improve their credit management and cashflow by fair and quality debt collection process. We care about our customer’s customer relationship and we protect it. We dream about making difference and earning money at same time. We both can rely on that other takes care of his part and works hard for common dream.

Now ladies and gentlemen I’ve realized one thing during my short career as an entrepreneur and I tell you this. If you have an idea or a product that fulfills people’s need, you have a good start. But the idea or product itself does not make you an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur dreams of gaining something big with the idea. An entrepreneur keeps working hard for the dream without counting hours. Entrepreneurship is chasing dreams every day and those dreams are what make entrepreneurship worth it.

 

Dare to dream.

Jussi Saarijärvi

Entrepreneur, Perintäritari Oy