EntryPoint Mentoring expands to startup scene

The benefits of mentoring in personal and career development are well documented. Mentoring can be also used as a tool for developing business and help startups and growth companies to identify untapped potential.

Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce’s EntryPoint Mentoring Programme broadened its scope to startups and scaleups to give growing companies a chance to learn from others and share ideas.

Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce has run three EntryPoint Mentoring Programmes in the past two and a half years. The main purpose of EntryPoint is to form mutually beneficial partnership between mentor, a seasoned professional, and mentee, an international degree student or recent graduate in Finland. At its best mentoring offers both participants an opportunity to learn, listen and share experiences.

In fall 2018 Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce together with the City of Espoo and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, launched a new version of EntryPoint focusing on startups and scaleups.

– Unlike previous annual EntryPoint programmes, this beta-version focused on a specific field of startups and scaleups. In result, EntryPoint demonstrates its agile and applicable model which offers the optimal and tailored benefits to a specific target group, tells Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce’s Mentoring Programme Officer Shania Shin.

While the focus and target group of EntryPoint changed from the previous programmes, the core idea of the programme remained the same.

– The ultimate goal of EntryPoint remains the same: let participants benefit from diversity and let them discover untapped potential. Unlike in the previous programmes, mentors from public sector and academia were not invited to this intensive programme. Nonetheless, the diversity was powerfully entwined with each participant, played a crucial role in the collective learning trajectory and encouraged them to reach the fullest potential, Shin explains.

Learnings from diversity

In total 32 participants took part in EntryPoint with Startups and Scaleups. Participants’ backgrounds varied from people with years’ of experience in business to people taking their first steps in startup world and to students interested in learning more about startups and scaleups.

CTO of Aurora Digital Emil Östlin, was one of the mentors in the programme. Östlin has a background as a game designer and project manager. Now as a CTO of a young startup, his role mainly evolves around managing developers and customers’ needs.

– Meeting new people and learning new things is essential for people who are looking to create their own venture. Being surrounded with other mentors with years of experience gives you a lot of insight and meeting these ambitious mentees who are all going different directions are a great way for you to you keep your own motivation high, as well as gaining insight into areas you otherwise would not, Östlin states.

One of the most important things in EntryPoint is the opportunity to meet with people from different industries, cultures and educational backgrounds. The whole idea is to offer the participants a platform where they can both share their own knowledge but also listen and learn from other participants’ experiences.

– Usually it is hard to meet people outside of your own industry and EntryPoint has been a great way to meet new people with different backgrounds and goals, Östlin says.

The CEO and co-founder of Caidio, Aku Wilenius, shares Östlin’s views on the benefits of the programme. Wilenius has over 20 years’ experience from international technology company in various roles in technical sales, marketing and sales management. Wilenius founded Caidio together with his partners in April 2018, and the startup concentrates on developing artificial intelligence programmes to improve quality and productivity in concrete construction.

– Our aim is to make Caidio a leading global company in our own specific sector. We are happy to recruit people from different cultures and backgrounds. At the moment, most of our employees come from outside of Finland. We believe that having employees with different backgrounds and mindsets benefits our company in fast technological and international development. It also makes our company more attractive and dynamic workplace for top talents in AI technology, Wilenius continues.

Mentoring, help startups EntryPoint Mentoring Programme, mentee, Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce

Mentoring works – size of the company does not matter

For mentees, mentoring gives an opportunity to learn about Finnish startup scene and working life. Programme is also a way to expand networks and get valuable advice on career planning. For mentors, EntryPoint is a chance to evaluate and improve their cross-cultural communication and management skills, get new insight on business ideas and find new contacts. It also gives companies an opportunity to interact and learn from talents with different viewpoints and ideas.

– Through the mentoring programme I have learned a lot on why Finland is seen as an interesting and attractive place for international talents to move. I’m happy to see that our country is attracting highly educated immigrants, and I hope that our companies and society would invest more in this. Through the mentoring programme I have expanded my professional networks with several companies located in the Helsinki region, Wilenius explains.

To give both the mentors and mentees more opportunities to network and exchange ideas and experiences, EntryPoint includes collective meetings and thematic group meetings. Through these meetings the participants have the opportunity to network with the other participants.

– I have had a lot of fun being a mentor as well as participating on the events we have had so far. Even though my role is of a mentor I have learnt a lot both from my mentee and from our events. It has been fun to meet the entire group and to get to know people I otherwise would not have, and see what their goals and ambitions are, Östlin says.

EntryPoint Mentoring Programme was originally designed to accommodate the needs of established companies. EntryPoint with Startups and Scaleups has proved that mentoring concept can be adapted successfully to accommodate the special needs of companies in their growth phase.

– During my career I have had the opportunity to be involved in developing international company’s internal mentoring programmes. I believe that mentoring is beneficial for all companies, no matter the size. I would definitely recommend mentoring to others. This is a great way to learn about Finnish working life and society. In addition, mentoring expands understanding about the international talents in Finland, Wilenius states.

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