Sanoma Accelerator Part 1: Journey to the Boot camp

by Joanne NH Wong, student, 12MEDIA

Four months ago, I joined The Sanoma Commerce Accelerator program via Demola. It is a an intrapreneurship program initiated by Sanoma’s Future Media Team (now Sanoma Innovation Lab lead by Director Lassi Kurkijärvi) together with MakerLab in the Netherlands, and Demola Networks of students were given the opportunity to participate together with Sanoma employees for a fun and great innovative challenge.

In this Commerce Accelerator program, Sanoma is looking for product innovations: what types of new services can facilitate commerce? What is the advertising of the future? Sanoma is in search of disruptive and radical concepts within the innovation scopes of E-commerce, Advertising and Ecosystem enhancement.

Demola encouraged students to take part in Commerce Accelerator innovative program via social media channel.

With heart full of curiosity and interest, I joined the project expecting to learn a thing or two, but instead it turned into an intensive and fast-paced learning experience. It even got me on a plane to Amsterdam! The learning focused on lean startup methods with weekly themed webinar. Some of the webinar topics include: Technological and Social Trends, Lean Product Development, Validation and MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and as such. 

Note: Webinar comes from Web Seminar

Each week, I would sit in front of my laptop (usually) on Wednesday evening with headphone, snacks and drinks ready for educational yet entertaining webinar conducted by the organisers via online seminar platform. And then comes the weekly assignments on generating ideas, creating problem hypothesis, validating riskiest assumption, developing quick pitch and so on. Participants are interacting via web platform which allows commenting on other participant’s idea, ask questions, vote (invest) for best ideas and submit assignments. Skype call sessions and student mentors are available for students as well to help us developing our ideas.

General feedback would be given on our ideas during webinars and discussion is carried on in the Commerce Accelerator web platform. I particularly enjoyed ‘Design Thinking’ with Ian Collingwood among all webinar sessions.
“Don’t sell what you can build. Build what you can sell.” ~Ian Collingwood

Students were allowed to form into small team and work together as opposed to Sanoma employee participants who work alone on their idea. Our team Appier works closely together on 1 idea after rounds of feedback and voting. My initial idea ‘Flowy’ were discarded as out of scope in the project, but I am excited to work on team mate, Eni’s idea ‘Weggle’ and help expand and improvise it. From Value Proposition, WWW (Who What Why) to marketing plan, our team followed closely with the lean startup methods. I would say customer validation is the most exciting part of the project. We got out of the building, went to shopping mall to do interviews and gather feedback on our idea ‘Weggle’. To my surprise, Finns are not that shy after all as they happily talked during those interviews!

“Weggle is a mobile-app that gives user another chance to buy a product, which is temporarily unavailable in size, color or model. Weggle helps fashion shoppers who find a product that they really want and don’t want to miss out on it. Our user needs to press a button on the online-shop/or scan barcode in physical store, that will save their product on Weggle, then wait for the app to send immediate mobile-alert once product becomes available for purchase. This app will save the user time and nerves by helping them to keep up with the product effortlessly 24/7.”

Weggle, an app-based service to help customers and businesses with out of stock problem.

There were total 8 webinar sessions and during week 7, ‘Weggle’ has been voted into Top 20 ideas before making it to the Top 10 among few hundred ideas submitted from both student teams and Sanoma employees. In the same time, our team presented ‘Weggle’ at Demola mid pitch event for autumn 2013. ‘Weggle’ pitch won as the best potential idea and our team Appier got to meet up with Paavo Bäckman for advice and consultation. This was a great confidence boost for our team! But it also meant that more hard work and efforts to be put into presenting Pro-MVP for the live voting session which the Bootcamp Top 5 were selected. 

Joanne NH Wong is an international degree student at our TAMK International Media Programme.
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