Discussions with an experienced entrepreneur strengthened Johanna Liljeroos’ confidence in her entrepreneurship abilities. Liljeroos and her mentor Jarne Lähteenmäki participated in Y-Campus’ first mentoring programme.
– My idea of becoming an entrepreneur has strengthened. We have for example gone through my strengths and I do not anymore have any reason to doubt that I would not cope as an entrepreneur, Liljeroos summarises the discussions she had with her mentor in the spring.
This spring the joint Y-Campus of TAMK, Tampere University of Technology and the University of Tampere piloted a mentoring programme where experienced entrepreneurs mentored students with a business idea. The entrepreneur mentors with experience and views on the field were searched for the selected students.
The three-month mentoring ended with a joint event where experiences were shared and Vincit’s HR Director Johanna Pystynen told about her views on motivation and self-management.
The participants felt they received guidance and answers to their questions. One needed strengthening of confidence, whereas another needed advice on how to double the revenue of an existing business. One of the mentors invested capital in the mentored student’s business and another mentor found a cooperation partner.
A total of 11 pairs started the programme and ten of them reached the goal within the timetable. Development of the mentoring programme continues based on the given feedback. In future the programme will be longer and the investment viewpoint will be considered to a greater extent. The application criteria will remain the same.
– I believe that the most important reason for our success was the application procedure. We chose students who had a clear need for mentoring. When the mentored knows what help he or she wants, it is easier to find a good mentor and match the pairs, states Y-Campus Coach and Senior Lecturer Tanja Verho. Verho hosts the mentoring programme.
Johanna Liljeroos, who studies administrative science at the University of Tampere, applied for the programme because her future goal is to work in consulting services or organisation development tasks. Liljeroos basically only needs to complete her master’s thesis, otherwise her studies are on the homestretch.
– I have searched for my thing for several years and thought about employing myself. I am intrigued by the idea of being in the driving seat and having a job I have passion for, she tells.
Jarne Lähteenmäki, who is an entrepreneur in the advertising agency Bananas, promised to be Liljeroos’ mentor even if he only had a day to decide.
– The original mentor had to cancel and I was called if I could join the programme. I have never before mentored anyone and I first thought if I had anything to give, especially when I heard that Johanna studied administrative science and had an academic background, says Lähteenmäki.
The Y-Campus’ mentoring programme was developed on students’ initiative. The programme aims at connecting experienced entrepreneurs of the Y-Campus network and entrepreneuring students.
Ten students, one researcher and ten entrepreneurs participated in the pilot. The mentors and students met each other five times during the spring.
Read more (in Finnish only): "Korkeakoulujen yrittäjäopiskelijoiden mentorointiohjelma käyntiin: "Liikaa varomalla tekeminen loppuu."
Further information: Tanja Verho, Coach, Y-Campus, tel. 0400 300 173,
However, we found a common tune already when we met for the first time. Both noticed immediately that the mentor and future entrepreneur do not need to be experts of the same field. Regardless of the field, very similar issues puzzle those interested in entrepreneurship.
– We have had very useful discussions. Jarne has not given me ready answers but we have discussed all things that have occupied my mind, Liljeroos says.
According to Liljeroos, access to the mentoring programme was especially useful at this stage when she does not yet have a business.
– Jarne’s practical knowledge has helped me to consider matters related to entrepreneurship. I have received advice worth its weight in gold and had moments of clarity. But the most important has been my mentor’s encouragement to have confidence in myself. The entrepreneurship embryo already existed in me; at some point I just have to cross the threshold and start, Liljeroos tells.
Lähteenmäki, who has been an entrepreneur for six years, tells that he wanted to emphasise the good sides of entrepreneurship and not the potential setbacks.
– I have benefitted a lot from discussions with more experienced entrepreneurs. All knowledge and experiences do not show immediately but I have noticed that all advices have come in handy later, Lähteenmäki says.
Liljeroos’ aim is to finish the studies first and then participate in an entrepreneurship course. Her entrepreneurship is facilitated by the fact that she has two business partners ready.
– My greatest insight is that entrepreneurship is not astronomy, Liljeroos says.
Liljeroos and Lähteenmäki encourage interested students to participate in the mentoring programme if they have the chance.
– Join the programme bravely even if you did not have a clear business idea. You can only gain. Many puzzling questions are solved through discussions, Liljeroos encourages.
Text and photo: Arja Hautala