The story behind Brightlife

| Entrepreneurial journey, Student experience

Brightlife’s team of five is committed to making mental health services more effective and accessible.

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only brought new challenges to our society but also opened up opportunities for reinventing the delivery of services, for example, by converting in-person services to a virtual environment. Brightlife – an emerging startup that completed HUBS’s pre-incubation programme to develop its business idea – is working to set up a digital platform to serve two target groups: persons with mental health issues and psychotherapists that offer mental health services. The digital platform will give customers faster and easier access to mental health services. For self-employed psychotherapists, Brightlife will offer a safe and user-friendly platform for providing remote counselling, tools for delivering counselling services and monitoring treatment progress, and help with questions about entrepreneurship.

How did it all start?

Brightlife was created by a team of five young men, each with a different educational background and area of expertise. Four of the team members have known each other since upper secondary school, and the fifth jumped on board at the beginning of the startup journey.  Brainstorming potential business ideas has been a popular pastime for the team members throughout their path to entrepreneurship.

In late autumn 2020, one of the team members, business student Elias Palpatiz with a strong entrepreneurial streak, spotted the From Idea to Startup pre-incubation programme offered by HUBS while surfing the web. The programme also caught the interest of medical student Eero Haikonen and educational sciences student Eetu Harmonen. Of their many business ideas, the one that was eventually selected to be refined and developed during the pre-incubation programme was the idea to create a digital service that facilitates access to mental health services. The idea draws on the team members’ different strengths and areas of expertise. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, access to mental health services is a topical theme and the services are in demand.

What was it like to take part in the pre-incubation programme?

To make effective use of resources, the team decided that only two of the members would actively participate in the programme: Eero and Elias. Although the original team was strong and brought together a diverse set of skills, they soon realised that what was lacking was IT expertise. The fifth member, Timo Hartikainen, joined the team as if by fate: Eero met Timo – who was to become Brightlife’s IT expert – over a cup of coffee after an outdoor hockey game while the From Idea to Startup programme was in progress. After a short briefing, Timo quickly became interested in the idea and joined the team, thus making it even stronger.

The pre-incubation programme itself was an eye-opening experience for Eero: it convinced him that everything is possible and that launching a startup is a viable career option. The programme provided the team not only with the framework, structure and tools for developing their idea but also with support from coaches and mentors and useful new contacts.

What happened after the pre-incubation programme?

After the From Idea to Startup programme, the team wanted to continue refining their idea in a supportive environment, so they joined Red Brick’s pre-accelerator programme funded by Tampere Universities and the City of Tampere. Red Brick enabled the team to make a smooth transition and gain a more in-depth understanding of the themes covered during HUBS’s pre-incubation programme, such as customer segmentation and the development of a business model.

In the spring of 2021, Brightlife entered the GISU Urban Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition with HUBS’s support and has already secured a place in the finals alongside 12 other contestants. They had an inspiring example: the winner of the 2020 competition was Medified, another hatchling startup that went through HUBS’s pre-incubation programme.

Sights set on the future

After the long period of intensive effort, the team has enjoyed a well-deserved rest over the summer are now ready to throw themselves with renewed vigour into building their business.  The first rough drafts of a roadmap for the next few years have already been drawn up. All the team members are determined to complete their degrees while continuing to develop their business idea. But should an irresistible business opportunity open up before graduation, they are prepared to reconsider their plans.

Greetings to budding student entrepreneurs

I definitely encourage all students who are excited about entrepreneurship to attend the courses and programmes offered by HUBS and try their wings! Before registering for the From Idea to Startup programme, you should ask around to find, for example, fellow students who might be interested in joining your startup – having a great team is the key to a startup’s success and will also be a source of joy, motivation and support along the way.

Eero Haikonen
Co-founder of Brigthlife, Bachelor of Medicine
Eero standing outside on a sunny day,  in front of a lake

Introduction to the author and the interviewee

Kaisa Kokko is an entrepreneur coach at HUBS and responsible for the From Idea to Startup pre-incubation programme.

Eero Haikonen is the co-founder of Brightlife, a company hatched in HUBS’s pre-incubation programme, and a third-year medical student at Tampere University.

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