Application by students which brokers rental properties without estate agent fees targets US market

There were altogether nine teams in the programme from the University of Tartu, College of Charleston and Nebraska Wesleyan University. Other UT participants were Need2Park, which developed parking management software, and Hire Young, which mediates work offers.

The first half of the programme took place in Tartu and for the last week the participants headed to the US where the young start-up companies presented their business ideas to local business managers. The programme ended with a four minute presentation in which the participants used all the new knowledge and development ideas which they had gathered from Estonian start-ups and US entrepreneurs over the few weeks.

First place and 3,000 USD went to Nebraska Wesleyan University’s business idea Sip Safe, second place went to Konku by UT student of Law Joonas Põdra and student of Gene Technology Karl-Sander Erssi, and third place and 1,000 USD went also to Nebraska Wesleyan University and their idea Financial Patch. The remaining six teams received 500 USD to develop their ideas.

Head of UT Idea Lab Maret Ahonen said that UT students excelled and demonstrated amazing entrepreneurial spirit: “They learned fast and managed to set meetings with entrepreneurs during the short week in the US to determine the potential of their product or service in the US market.”

Ahonen is certain that since all UT teams have registered businesses and the nature of their enterprise enables an international outlook, it is only a matter of time for them to expand across the border. “This programme was a great opportunity for them to evaluate the potential of their business abroad in a safer environment. Now that they have received positive feedback and ideas to develop their business, the only option is to provide a product or service of even better quality and go places.”

One of the authors of Konku, UT student of Law Joonas Põder praised the programme and said that thanks to the programme they were able to get to know a different business culture, market and life and learn much during a short period.

Põder’s message for entrepreneurial youth is that entrepreneurship begins with a problem and a corresponding solution: “If you have a problem and you come up with a solution which is innovative and changing enough, you might become an entrepreneur. Konku exists because there was a problem and a solution.”

In the final of the competition at Nebraska Wesleyan University, the entrepreneurial youth were greeted by Mayor of Lincoln, Chris Beutler. Funder of the programme Harry Huge and Marki Tihhonova-Kreek, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Estonian Embassy in Washington, were also present.

This year three universities participated in the programme, but next year Tallinn University of Technology and The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, will most probably also join. The project is funded by the participating universities and the Harry and Reba Huge Foundation.

See the highlights of the programme:
Virge Tamme
Press Officer of the UT