Our Story

“As delighted as I am to welcome you all to *ship – The Startup Festival 2016, I must say the world we live in today worries me a great deal: An attempted military coup in Turkey, a vicious cycle of violence between African Americans and police officers in the United States, terrorist attacks sweeping across Europe, increased polarization and hatred within the political debate around the Brexit, Crimea and and the U.S. election, not to mention the poverty and increased social injustice in places like India, Africa and Latin America.

As the world around us is getting crazier, it has become crystal clear to me that we are clearly missing something. What we are missing is a common language – a higher purpose – a vision that unites people around a better future. I am firm believer that as part of this vision we must have a strong role for entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.

Let me now shift your focus to the beginning of the *ship and how it all got started. The story dates back to a workshop in Kotka about two years ago, where I facilitated a brainstorming session with two groups of international minds. The afternoon assignment was to envision and sketch an iconic, high impact initiative that would positively influence the city and the region. It was actually Shailendra Vyakarnam, a professor of entrepreneurship currently at Cranfield University in the UK, who came up with the brilliant idea of Entrepreneur-SHIP. The original idea was to get a huge cruise ship – symbolically – called the Entrepreneur-SHIP- fill it with startups, students, investors, decision makers – cruise the Baltic Sea for a few days and make the world a better place. It was going to be the Noah’s arc for entrepreneurship!

About a month later we found ourselves at the US Embassy for breakfast, hosted by the former U.S. Ambassador Bruce Oreck, where we co-developed the idea further. Unfortunately, it was not be possible to charter a cruise ship for the summer, within such a short notice. But we didn’t give up – because we had so many people that had got excited about the idea – that giving up was not on option. Soon, we started serious discussions with Antti Viitanen from Patteri Entrepreneurshp Society. The local student community took ownership of the initiative, and that’s how *ship found a home.

The vision for *ship was engraved and it still simply is: to help the next-generation of entrepreneurs. It is about bringing together people who feel passionate about helping each other. Mentors from all over the world, who want to share their experience and insights with the future game-changing entrepreneurs and innovators.

Just like a real ship, this *ship was not built in a day or two or by the hands of a few. And who knows, maybe one day, it will result in someone building a spaceship and exploring raw materials for the next generation solar panels!”

– Jouni Eho, Founding Father
Dated: July 27, 2016.