Health Bootcamp in Berlin: one team’s story

Véronique is a business developer for YourMind, who are creating an online portal to make it easier for people to find suitable psychotherapists. YourMind is based in Stockholm and Helsinki and participated in Helsinki Think Company’s Health Bootcamp 2017.

This was my first time in Berlin and I was excited to learn about the health start-up scene in a new country! After landing in Berlin, we promptly made our way to Charité and were greeted by the smiling faces of Dr. Tanja Rosenmund and Dr. Craig Garner from the SPARK team. We learned about SPARK’s mission to create a partnership between university researchers and the healthcare industry. As an academic who has gotten a taste of entrepreneurship, I can truly appreciate this initiative that encourages researchers to develop into entrepreneurs! Interestingly, this model is coming to Finland! After the SPARK visit we the teams got the chance to hit the streets of Berlin to test our start-up ideas.  This proved to be a great exercise for handling our nerves, practicing our pitches and conducting some customer research!

The trip was all about new challenges. Friday kicked-off with an enlightening talk from Ute Mercker, an investment manager from IBB-Beteiligungsgesellschaft. Having never met a VC or an investor before, I learned some great tips about pitch content and how to approach investors. It’s not often that you get to pitch to an investor “just for practice”!

Designing a product is not easy either! Have you ever tried designing a wallet… for someone else? The interactive workshop organized by Innoki was harder than I had expected but really gave us some insights into what to consider when designing a product that someone else will use. Some of the ideas that came out were very innovative, ranging from modular wallets to invisible wallets, to chip implants. 

One of the key things during the Bootcamp trip was constructive feedback. Charité University researchers told us how their research has lead to marketable products. We gave them some feedback and in turn they gave us feedback on our pitches. It was great to see the progress we had made and specially to receive feedback from entrepreneurs who had never heard our ideas before! The trip also gave us inspiration from many angles as we got a glimpse of the creative projects at Rainmaking Loft, which is a start-up hub run by entrepreneurs and angel investors – definitely a place worth a visit!

“All work and no play” is not in the entrepreneur’s dictionary so despite the packed program we still had plenty of time to experience Berlin! There are many art and history museums and more bars and cafés than we could try in one weekend. I would especially recommend the
DDR museum and Checkpoint Charlie for a Berlin first-timer.

This trip was like none other and gave the start-up teams some valuable insights to get their business to the next level. Noora from Team Norppa summarized our feelings well when she told me at the airport’s departure lounge: “Everything I heard was a learning experience”, and I couldn’t agree more!

After the Bootcamp trip, the six Health Bootcamp teams participated in a networking event in the heart of the health scene in Finland, Findery, as well as got to Pitch to the Giants in a workshop with mentors representing HUS, Fazer Brainhow and VTT. As a last push to develop their concepts, the teams made Next Steps plans together with the official mentors of the program: Peter Hänninen from Borenius, Kenneth Salonius from Vertical and Merja Hiltunen from Tekes. Additionally teams got support from Olli and Andreas from Wave Ventures, Mikko Kauppinen from GE Health Innovation Village and Helsinki Think Company’s very own Matti Petteri Pöntiö. 

Next is the celebration of the program, Health Bootcamp Showcase, which takes place on Friday 31.3 at 17:30 at our Centre venue (Vuorikatu 5). Check out the event and join us for a great after work event with pitches and a signature brew!