Building an efficient and interactive team does not happen overnight. It takes hard work, successes and failures. So how to get there? Several challenges during the studies at Proakatemia put the teams on a test measuring how well they survive as teams from stressful situations and new challenges.
Before students enter Proakatemia, they have spent half a year doing basic studies and courses including e.g. marketing, accounting and law. When they start their journey at Proakatemia, they are divided into two groups of around 18-25 people. Each team is assigned a coach and so the adventure of team learning and team entrepreneurship begins!
First step as a team is to start a company: come up with a name and enter papers to register a company, most likely a cooperative. Then it is time to learn by doing. Main part of the studies at Proakatemia consist of projects, essays, seminars, training sessions and team learning. Students come up with projects both as individuals, smaller teams or as the whole team.
The teams are tested throughout their studies. When they do projects, both B2B and B2C, their customers give them feedback. As a team they set up their own units of measurement how well they are doing both financially as a company but also as a team. Then there are competitions and challenges that are planned for the whole community of Proakatemia to evaluate how the teams are developing professionally.
Each year around April there is “Tiimidiili” (Team Deal) which is a 1-3 day innovation challenge for all teams. Then around October there is “Myyntipäivät” (Sales Day) when all team companies compete with each other in sales. And then there is the biggest challenge for each team that they face together only once: 24H “final exam”.
24 hours of innovating
24H is the final exam for graduating teams. It is held each year in November and all teams graduating in December take part in it. It is a two day event, where on the first day each team is given a different task by a customer (a company). Then they have 24 hours to come up with a solution and next morning pitch it on stage for the audience and write a report. Usually teams get two tasks from two different companies so they have to split their team in two. In this way there is enough work for everyone and they can take better advantage of the strengths of the individuals.
The solution and overall performance is then evaluated by a jury that consists of the customer, a coach of Proakatemia and an alumni student of Proakatemia. They give feedback based on how well the solution meets the needs of the customer. The team gets a payment from their customer based on the number of evaluation (1-5) they get. If they score a five as a grade, that means several thousand euros as a salary for the team.
Raising the bar
The 24H final exam is entirely organised by younger students for graduating students. Behind the event there is a small project team that consists of younger team entrepreneurs of Proakatemia. They work hard to organise the event in secret – so that the graduating teams have no idea what they are going to work with for 24 hours!
During the year the 24H project team contacts over a hundred companies to gather the best to take part in the event. The tasks from customers vary from marketing plans to innovating a new brand for a product or even how to improve the employer brand of a company. The task for the project team is to discuss with companies to find out their needs for outside-of-the-box-thinking and new ideas.
For example in 2018 a big local energy company Leppäkosken Energia gave a task for their team to find out how the company could reach its entrepreneur customers before the customers make their purchase decision and sign an electricity contract? The solution we keep as a secret, but the grade for the team’s solution was 4 and the company was amazed by the skills of the students and the impressive solution that was made up in less than 24 hours. Almost every year after the event some companies want to continue working with the teams and teampreneurs of Proakatemia once they’ve seen the talent and enthusiasm of the students. So it is a win-win situation for both parties!
I have been part of the 24H project team now for two times and it is one of the most rewarding projects I have done. It is a rare chance to get to organise this kind of special event for the graduating teams and the whole community who comes there as an audience. 24H is also about spreading knowledge about Proakatemia to companies and the amazed feedback from the customers is always one of the highlights of the event.
This year is my team Kajo’s time to “take the exam” in November. From the organising perspective I have noted that over the years the tasks from the companies have gotten more and more challenging and come from a wider scale – so you can’t really know what comes next! So the bar is high and my team has already made plans on how to get ready for the challenge. Just in a few weeks it’s time for this year’s “Tiimidiili” to get some practice!
Member of the 24H project team in 2017 and Project Manager of the 24H project team in 2018. Facing the 24H Final Exam as a graduating student in November 2019.