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🌱 Startup stories

StepOut to the next level - Acceleration done right

From 2 co-founders and one idea, to an award-winning and a "100 Hottest" startup in Finland. Tarnjit and Sanni's determination to succeed.

Tarnjit Saini

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tarnjitsaini/

February 16, 2021

Earning by doing what you’re passionate about should not be a challenge. But this is exactly what solo entrepreneurship is about; starting a business from scratch is no child’s play when there is no prior knowledge of “how to” and “where to” begin from. StepOut - a platform as a service was created to cater the needs of these entrepreneurs while simultaneously bringing their expertise to the world i.e. forming a customer base for them.

Tarnjit Saini and Sanni Ishfaq, the co-founders of StepOut, stepped out on this entrepreneurship journey as students. Lacking the network in the startup ecosystem, which is one of the essential aspects for growth, the first 6 months of their journey were spent on their own, polishing the business idea and learning about entrepreneurship in general and understanding the ecosystem in Helsinki. Back then being a team of 2 co-founders, the focus was on validating the initial idea with some real traction and building the team.

Along the way, we participated in several competitions and won some titles too, however these little milestones were in no way accelerating our startup journey. One recommendation we’d constantly were getting at this point, was to consider applying to one of the Kiuas programs. Attending Kiuas Demo Day in 2018 and hearing about the participants’ journeys undoubtedly inspired us in many ways and we started to think about ‘‘getting there [to the stage] one day’’. When we applied for Kiuas Start, we had on-boarded a product designer and a software developer, the superheroes that were needed to execute our business idea. To be also noted, is that Kiuas Inside helped us on-board our first team mate. With the idea validation carried out we were all set to kick-off building our MVP. However, the world had its own plans and COVID kicked in instead just when Kiuas Start was set to begin.

Expecting an entry into Kiuas is certainly not an easy game. As big as it is, the competition for the application phase itself is one of its own categories as every year Kiuas witnesses more applications than the previous times. Who doesn’t want access to such a strong community of entrepreneurial minded people? So… our entry to Kiuas was an interesting journey of 3 trials, as the Kiuas team said it ‘‘third time’s a charm’’.

Kiuas Start 2020 was held virtually for the first time, that also being our first experience with virtual events. The program led us towards deciding to pivot our business idea a bit in order to tackle the COVID crisis rather than sitting and waiting for a COVID-free world for us to proceed. Through the coaching received, we realized that the need for convenient fitness and well-being platforms is likely to increase during the pandemic along with the need for employment opportunities. So we had to take advantage of this opportunity and think big, think differently! The product sprint weekends proved to be an amazing experience for us, not just because we won both of them (still hyped about that XD), but they also helped us to prioritize designing the StepOut’s virtual platform that didn't even exist in our thoughts before that. The sprint weekends got us to focus working on it to be ready, to finally present it on the last day of the program. Kiuas Start was truly a great learning experience for us that pushed us not to lose hope, and it’s safe to say that the steps we took during the program led us to earning our very first revenue in 2020.

Having participated in a number of prominent startup programs and competitions in Finland and StepOut featuring in the list of 100 Hottest startups of Finland in November 2020, we have managed to build a network that we lacked in the beginning and learnt and practiced various approaches essential for our growth. We launched the StepOut live-streaming platform post Kiuas Start 2020 and moved on towards building and launching the StepOut’s Android and iOS app in August 2020. This was followed by a new B2G project in collaboration with the City of Helsinki. The collaboration brought in the subscription model for StepOut users.

We have been constantly focusing on gathering user feedback and making improvements, as we believe active communication with the ones who we are creating a solution for is extremely important. Currently we're gearing up for the launch of our StepOut web-app, making our services accessible to everyone, and actively looking out for investors & business advisors for the seed round. Our determination towards achieving our mission is stronger and our vision clearer than ever before!

Apply now for Kiuas Start Spring 2021!

The deadline is on February 28. Read more here: kiuas.com/start

Tarnjit Saini

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tarnjitsaini/

February 16, 2021

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Originally published on

February 16, 2021