Why we organised Techstars Startup Week Tallinn 2018?

The team behind Techstars Startup Week Tallinn 2018 (from the left): Sander, Matt (Global Direcotr of Startup Week for Techstars), Kristiina, Marika, Triin, Merit, Liisi, Ede, Margus. Magnus is missing.

5 days of celebrating our startup community is now behind us. With 62 events throughout the week and around 3000 attendees, we really pushed the limits. Together with the core team, we gathered some thoughts and reflections of the overall experience on how to organise a community festival.

Some captions from the Final Party. Photos by Vladislava Snurnikova.

🔮 Ede Schank Tamkivi - Track Lead of Future Founders:

‘’It was great to become part of a team of such driven people to set up a full week of events to strengthen the community. When Sander first approached me with the idea of setting up a track for Future Founders — to build bridges to join current startup people with the budding ones — it all made perfect sense as this was something we had been doing with Eesti 2.0 anyway. 
This week’s experience showed us that this is a format that should be repeated many times over. I’m absolutely convinced that this team could and will make it a great and much-anticipated tradition. 
All in all, we had around 200 people — future founders of all age groups and backgrounds — in the workshops, with Monday’s events having the highest attendance (
the panel attracted 50+ people) and some of the smaller workshops only around 4 attendees (offering a very personal experience for those who participated!). The data mining workshop was so popular that several schools have already contacted us to ask if they can integrate it to their curriculum.‘’

Picture from a robotics workshop ‘’Kasutajast tulevikutehnoloogia loojaks!’’ Photo by Vladislava Snurnikova.

🔮 Kristiina Toots - PR, Comms & Marketing Magic:

‘’I was one of the last ones to join the volunteer team. I happened to have some extra time in my hands (which rarely happens to anyone these days!) and thought I’d contribute to the startup scene. The Startup Week team just happened to be thinking of looking for someone to help with PR, when I contacted the team to offer my help in the exact area where they were lacking manpower. Let’s say, a magical stroke of luck made our roads cross. I saw the potential in Techstars Startup Week Tallinn 2018 from far away, but I didn’t realise how big this really is going to be and what kind of foundation we are building for future Startup Week festivals.’’

🔮 Liisi Org - Chief Operations & Inspiration Officer:

‘’I didn’t even hesitate and said yes instantly when Sander asked me to join in May. That was the best decision ever cause we achieved something amazing with this week. Mostly, because our team was so well synced and the teamwork was super smooth. 
The most important for me this week was to bring the community and the people outside of it together under one roof.
So that all the individuals, who are currently not included in this ecosystem, could see inside of it and be part of it if they want to. Together with Ede and Marika, we organized the Future Founder track and hosted 10 events which focused on empowering and educating our future generation. I really hope that those events helped kids understand that everything is possible! 
To sum up Techstars Startup Week Tallinn — it was one
hell of a ride and I would definitely do it again. I met so many great people during those months and I’m beyond grateful for this experience.’’

Scoro Speed Dating. Photo by Vladislava Snurnikova.

Magnus Tohver - The Bouncer.

‘’I was probably the last to join the team as a volunteer. This was my first time doing any sort of volunteer work. I was so overly excited to join the team when Ede said that volunteers were in high demand, and that I could be a part of the greatest celebration of entrepreneurship. I could be seen at all the Future Founders track events checking people’s registrations and running errands if anyone needed something. 
When I had my work done, I could even
join the workshops and events myself. That was the icing on the cake. So many great workshops like the Investor and Founder game which was one of the most fun workshops I’ve ever participated in. Besides taking care of on-sight people relations, I was also the “bouncer” at both parties. If anyone didn’t have their name on the list… they could still get in as I was merciful. The whole Tallinn Startup Week was the greatest event I have ever participated in. The fun factor was through the roof; the “did I learn anything” was more than high school; and the organizing team, everyone, was great!’

Meet Magnus — our youngest superstar of the team. Photos by Vladislava Snurnikova.

🔮 Margus Veimann - Head of Design aka the Showglobe Man:

‘’I wasn’t really part of the startup ecosystem before, but I think I caught the bug when I first sat down with the team. The whole experience was so inspirational, dynamic and exciting — which I guess the startup world is all about. Techstars Startup Week is all about enriching people with experiences and stories and I was super glad to be part of it. Looking forward to new explorations with this awesome team.’’

Outtake Nº1: surround yourself with a team who gives back. Also find yourself a team who shares “get 💩 done” work-ethic.

🔮 Marika Graudina - Chief Techstars Advocate:

‘’In 2015, I volunteered for Techstars Startup Week Seattle. Back then, I helped to organize couple of sessions only, but I was amazed to see how the concept of Startup Week — a five day celebration of entrepreneurial community — united the entire entrepreneurial community and made the city buzzing. Having seen that, I jumped happily on board when Sander asked me to join the organizing team. I just knew that I wanted to experience the same buzz in Tallinn.
Personally, I’m the most excited for the Future Founder track and the potential for it. Bringing our younger generation closer to entrepreneurship and providing them learning opportunities outside the traditional school system is growing ever more important with our work culture shifting. 
As it was the first year introducing Future Founder track, the number of youth reached was limited, nevertheless, I consider it a great success and something we should definitely continue to pursue on. Seeing high school students approaching the speakers after the sessions and asking them if they could do the same session at their school made me realize that we achieved something greater than just organizing few workshops for a small group of kids. Having wrapped up the Techstars Startup Week Tallinn last Friday, I can humbly say that I couldn’t ask for a better
team or for better partners. The community rocked it! Thank you for everyone involved!’’

Outtakes from ‘’Techstars Thursday’’ at LIFT99co. Photos by Vladislava Snurnikova.

🔮 Merit Hansmitt - Head of Startup EXPO & Chief Fun Officer.

‘’Being part of the organisers at Techstars Startup Week Tallinn was such an awesome experience!!! From the first meeting when I met Sander, Triin, Liisi and Margus, I knew straight away that I want to be part of this team. It’s rare to find a team you click straight away and our team was one just like that! Being part of this year’s event gave me a lot of opportunities to meet so many great people and get to know what the Estonian startup scene a bit closer, especially as my main focus was around organising this year’s EXPO. If I would have to list 3 things what this year’s Startup Week has given me, I would say: it’s educational (I learned new things about myself, other people, our local startups); it’s rewarding (all the positive feedback we got as part of this event, has really made me feel that we have really created value for the community) and it’s fun! ‘’

Startup Expo took place at Solaris Centre. Photos by Vladislava Snurnikova

🔮 Sander Sillavee - MC*:

‘’With two years behind us with Startup Week Tallinn being a community startup event, I really wanted to scale it this year. Starting the journey already in the spring, I was really lucky to find amazing teammates along the way. With three of us in the core team (me, Liisi & Triin) we made some crazy plans to empower our startup ecosystem to hold a week-long festival celebrating our startup scene. Our once crazy idea of having 50 events got even exceeded. I am super grateful to everyone in the team, our partners and of course — to all of the 50+ event organisers in our community making it happen.’’

🔮 Triin Ilves - Chief Creative & Getting-Stuff-Done Officer

‘’I found out only recently that Techstars’ central motto is “Give First.” Nevertheless, various people from Estonia’s startup community came together to do exactly that. Besides, our team has pretty much done all of these things that age-old friends go through: give each other nicknames, spend time together until late nights, work and party, share relationship advice, create something new and exciting. I truly hope that the startup community felt a similar connection with us as this was a team’s effort. We dared ourselves to go beyond limits, both individually and together, and the result is hopefully not only Startup Week Tallinn 2018, but 2019 and so on.”

Organising team with Joao Rei, the moderator for the opening event. Photo by Vladislava Snurnikova.

You can find all the pictures of the events here.

That’s it for this year! If you have any feedback on how to improve or already want to partner up for next year, let Sander know: sander@startupestonia.ee.

*MC = Head Organiser of Techstars Startup Week Tallinn