An educational ecosystem – Start North



Start North is an educational ecosystem and online platform that gathers a variety of impact-driven summer programs and events in the Helsinki region. Together with students, companies, entrepreneurship societies, universities and cities, Start North aims to co-create and shape the future of education.



Startup Summer is an association and startup established in fall 2016 that aims to revolutionize education. The association is partly funded by and working closely with Aalto University and the cities of Espoo, Helsinki, and Vantaa.


Finding educational offerings running during the summertime is not an easy task for students. They have a hard time with browsing a multiplicity of web sites of different programs and events providing diverse information. Being lost in the amount of information, students struggle to find suitable programs and could miss good opportunities to spend their summer on something meaningful.

Initial brief

The initial brief was to create a new type of a summer program which connects young students and multinational corporations. The students would be provided with a highly dynamic and tailored learning experience while the companies would benefit by boosting internal innovations and finding the best talents. The program would later be developed into a certified degree or a part of a degree. 


The key phases of our project were as follows:

1. Research
A series of interviews were conducted with HR and business development managers of global corporations from various fields in the Helsinki region, as well as Aalto University students and education experts. The goal was to validate if there is a real need for the client's initial brief. The main outcome of the interviews was that the Start North concept needs to be redefined.

2. Concept definition
Workshops for concept ideation were held with the members of Startup Summer Association, students and the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa. The result of the workshop was a crystallized concept.

3. Field trip
Field trip to the US to interview 11 innovative educational programs.

4. Concept testing
Interviews with 10 summer programs in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area in order to understand their needs and cooperation opportunities with Start North.

5. Platform UX design
Persona creation, customer journey mapping, UI drafting, a list of website features, AB testing and landing page content creation.


Methods we used multiple methods throughout the project:

Research: interviewing potential users and stakeholders, competitor analysis, IDBM program World cafe

Concept definition: survey about Startup Summer stakeholders’ vision of the Startup Summer concept, service design workshop with 17 participants using Atlas Game methodology

Field trip: interviews with educational programs in the US

Concept testing: interviews with summer programs providers

Online platform development: workshop for personas creation and customer journey mapping, UI drafting, AB testing on Aalto University students

Field trip

The goal of the trip was to gain insights from innovative educational programs provided in New York and San Francisco. Our team interviewed 11 programs providers that were specialized in summer schools, startup education, project-based education, and digitalisation. We found that: 

  • Resources (money & time) are problematic for NPOs in education
  • Program providers recommended to focus on few main partners & goals in order to create a successful program
  • Multidisciplinarity & diversity in education are a trend


The final outcome is an online umbrella platform gathering various summer programs and related events in the Helsinki region. The platform facilitates the promotion, information and application process for students and program providers, as well as to ensures a unique and well-integrated learning experience during the Finnish summer.

Our team’s main contribution to the Start North project:

  • Revising and enhancing the initial concept idea
  • Providing the client with strategic and short-term project vision and  business model
  • Supporting the client in project facilitation and correlation of work of people involved in the project. Our participation resulted in speeding up of project development and preventing excessive waste of resources
  • Providing the client with grounded critics about project development and feedbacks on project team members work: visuals, brand book, logo, website functionality, content and design
  • Clickable mockups for Start North's website tested with potential users

Team New School

  • Laura Klinkhammer
    BA Architecture / IDBM ARTS
  • Robert Wuorila-Stenberg
    BSc Marketing / IDBM BIZ
  • Laura Waldén
    BSc Information Networks / IDBM SCI minor
  • Lidia Borisova
    BSc Economics/ IDBM BIZ