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Starting Up – A new way to learn entrepreneurship

Can entrepreneurship be taught? There are mainly two schools of thought. 

According to some people, entrepreneurial skills can be taught at educational institutes. Others consider entrepreneurship as something that can be learned only by doing or by the entrepreneurs themselves.

Johan Brand (Founder of Kahoot), Ling Ge (Chief European Representative at Tencent) and Josefiina Kotilainen (VC at took the Founder stage earlier today at Slush to discuss the future of entrepreneurial education.

The discussion started with an intriguing announcement by Kotilainen: a new massive open online course Starting Up. The course has been initiated by student-led startup accelerator Kiuas, and it has been created together with early-stage VC fund, Aalto University’s entrepreneurship education program Aalto Ventures Program, and technology company Reaktor. Included in the process were also a large amount of other supporting partners.

All you need to know in one place

The idea for the course came from the fear that a lot of the basic information on modern entrepreneurship is difficult to find. The purpose of this course is to get all the relevant information to one place.

“Much of the practical basic information is scattered online or shared within start-up and tech circles passed on from mentor to mentee or discussed between like-minded entrepreneurs at tech conferences and gatherings. Or in the worst case not even shared at all because we assume that we know that already”, Kotilainen complains and continues: “We believe that in the 2020s launching a start-up successfully should not be dependent on who you know.”

Starting Up covers the fundamentals of startup entrepreneurship today, including everything from basic terminology to themes like validating a problem and go-to-market strategy. To form the course material, the team interviewed 15 European entrepreneurs, investors, and tech pioneers.

The course will be open to all and is easily accessible beyond the Aalto university community. One of the ambitious goals of the creators is to introduce the Starting Up in every country. To achieve that, they are building a global network of universities, companies, VC funds and other entrepreneurially minded organizations. They have already partnered up for example with UC Berkeley, Supercell, and Nokia.

Entrepreneurship education has demand

Kotilainen is not alone with her views.

Ling Ge leads Tencent’s efforts in Europe on strategic investment and partnerships. She has received a doctorate in Quantum Computing from Oxford University and has also taught entrepreneurship in leading Business Schools and worked with venture capitals and technology firms. 

Johan Brand, on the other hand, has a background as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Kahoot! During his leadership season Kahoot! has grown from a research project to a company which has captured more than half of US K-12 classrooms, as well as millions of business and social users.

Both long-term professionals give their support to the Starting Up program.

Ge does not hide her enthusiasm: “Starting Up initiative is fantastic. It offers all the practical information on how to start business, like advice on product-market fit and how to actually raise a financing round.”

Ge reminds of another bonus followed by the program: “I think even more important is the close collaboration between universities, the leading VCs and the startup ecosystem. This way the teaching can be made really relevant to the real-world experience.”

“One thing that I think we should all agree on is that you actually have to work on the business just like the art students work on their art projects. This has been probably the biggest problem until now”, Brand backs up Ges statement.

Read more about Starting Up and join the course here