Continuous developing and learning – Devangini and Sriram’s story

| Entrepreneurial journey

The idea

Our idea is AddOnTo – an online platform for school children to learn about Artificial Intelligence by building games such as apple harvester robot, snake game, robots playing football, etc. Children are creative and they learn by building and breaking things. We are thinking of utilizing this experiential learning experience to help children learn about AI. As children build AI, we teach them how AI works such as how AI sees the world, how AI recognizes objects and how AI makes decisions.

Bringing AI into the early years

Talking to parents, teachers and school children, we realized that parents and teachers are actively looking at how to introduce their kids to AI. We found that the existing solutions are either complicated to start or expensive for parents and children. We also realized some of these solutions are teaching programming robots rather than AI. AI is quite different than programming, AI is about learning from data to make decisions. We ourselves have also been impacted by this problem in our earlier experiences with AI.

AI is becoming an essential 21st Century skill for kids. We want to help the next generation of children to be more aware of AI so that they can understand what AI is doing, utilize AI for its potential and at the same time consider its potential risks.

Discovering HUBS

We have been searching for an accelerator program in Tampere as we wanted help from someone outside our perspective. We found about HUBS (at that time known as Y-Kampus). HUBS offers several entrepreneurship courses tailored to different phases of an entrepreneur’s journey. We selected the Startup Experience Pre-Incubator programme as we had a basic idea and wanted to explore its potential through this course. We initially had a different idea to work on. Through this course and Tiina and Anna-Elina’s guidance, we realized a lot of potential problems with our idea by testing them. Also talking to Raul helped us to realize, test ideas, and pivot.

Many key learnings from Startup Experience

One of the key learning from this course and our current field of study was to understand the users and customers. We need to continually talk to customers, understand their needs, show the solution to them and understand whether it meets their needs. We have overcome our shyness and contacted as many people in LinkedIn and talked to several stakeholders to understand the problem.

We initially started with a different idea around virtual reality. In order to reach the current idea, we had to validate fast and pivot. We learned different techniques to validate our idea in this course. There is one line from Tiina that we will remember for a long time: “Kill your baby!”

The course coaches recommended the books “Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation” and “Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want”. These books were very helpful to learn different techniques that could be used to validate the idea at different stages of the business. Our mentor, Raul, helped us a lot to understand how we could apply and execute these techniques for our idea.

Pitching tips to win

Another key learning from this course was the pitching format. The format is NABC – need, approach, benefits and customers. This format was quite useful for us to communicate our ideas to other fellow entrepreneurs, customers and other stakeholders. We used this format to win the GrowUp Students competition organized by SeAMK at 2nd place in the business ideas category.

A life skill that we learnt from this course was psychological safety. Both of us have been recently very busy with everything, and it has really put a huge pressure to work faster. However, time is an important factor to build teams. During COVID, team building has become more challenging due to the lack of proper non-verbal communication cues. Psychological safety is very useful for us when we will collaborate with others for business or any other teamwork.

Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you. It might even take years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting.

Randy Pausch

Exciting future

Currently, we have joined the Red Brick Accelerator. We are planning to further explore this idea at this accelerator. We are using this Red Brick Accelerator opportunity to focus on understanding the problem and idea. We want to focus on understanding the market and building the product that fits the market. We got some entrepreneurial knowledge from previous courses and experiences. There is a lot more for us to learn and improve ourselves. We want to continue keep learning and growing ourselves and our entrepreneurship skills.

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