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Events moved easily to the internet: “Kasvu Open – Growth path” rolls on despite cancellations of face-to-face events

By Hanna Liimatainen on May 25, 2020 9:30:00 AM , updated on Dec 15, 2020

Finland's biggest growth and sparring programme, Kasvu Open – Growth Open, is facing new challenges in the midst of the prevailing exceptional circumstances. Kasvu Open – Growth Open is aimed at growth companies looking for growth and business development, and this time it will be held in virtual mode, and not a single event has been cancelled or even planned to be rescheduled. Despite the exceptional circumstances, almost every one of the 50 event days in the series of events and webinars will be held as planned this year as well.

“Growth paths will be rolled out just as they were originally intended to be rolled out. We want to demonstrate to all participants that the changed conditions and the digital implementation mode will not take anything away from Growth Paths. On the contrary, these will provide us with a lot of new things to do,” rejoices Leena Räisänen, Kasvu Open – Growth Open’s head of development.

Kasvu Open – Growth Open decided to start developing its sparring programme in the direction of a more digital format already last spring. The engagement and collaboration platform Howspace was chosen at the time to support the series of events, the entire process and its sparring sessions, digitally. The reforming of the operating methods had got under way before the situations changed and the organization of physical events had to be abandoned. The pandemic meant that all the Growth Path encounters were speedily arranged to happen online.

“We have had to and we have been able to make the most of the new ways of working and Howspace this year. Fortunately, we had set out in advance last year to consider supporting everything digitally. And so, the solutions already existed, and only their implementation needed to be done,” Räisänen explains.

Digital ways of working provide efficiency in the encounters between growth companies and experts

Kasvu Open - Growth Open is comprised of massive series of sparring events, i.e. Growth Paths, and this series of events has brought together thousands of growth companies and volunteer experts over the years. According to Räisänen, presenting the events online this year has meant an overall challenge to the entire Kasvu Open – Growth Open team and participants when gathering around learning new things and development.

“At first, we just placed all our events online via Zoom. Now, however, we have had time to think about the use of virtual operating methods and wider use of Howspace and we have managed to diversify our operation. We will be activating companies and sparrers even before the sparring days to engage in working together so that all participants arrive at the meetings well prepared. In addition, the collaboration will continue on the platform even after the events have been held,” Räisänen says.

The whole of Growth Paths consists of sparring rounds, and the first of these is already in progress. The choice of organizations given access to the paths has been made for the most part. After the first round, 60 finalists will be selected from among the companies, and sparring meetings and pitches will continue with them.

“We have taken up the challenge and made the Growth Paths even bigger this time. Digitalisation also offers new opportunities for the assessment of corporate pitches, as the entire community can be involved in the assessment of video pitches and voting.”

Getting away from old way of doing things: Enthusiasm is sparked when team members challenge each other to do something new

Kasvu Open – Growth Open has the principal goal of developing companies' business. According to Räisänen, Growth Paths implemented in the new way have received excellent feedback, not only from the participating companies themselves but, above all, from the sparrers.

“The tools and ways of working that we have chosen have worked well for all companies. In addition, the sparrers have found that the new implementation method brings with it overall efficiency, as every session enables the well-prepared parties to quickly address the key issues,” Räisänen says.

“The mix of companies has clearly excellent preparedness to participate in remote encounters. The programmes we have selected are so easy to use that no one has been left out by technological challenges.

Kasvupolku – Growth Path traditionally culminates in the Kasvu Open – Growth Open Carnival at the end of October. The setting up of a mass event involving 1500 people is also being planned in new ways. Despite the ongoing exceptional situation, the event will not be cancelled.

“We have cancelled the second face-to-face day of the two-day carnival and we will instead hold it in virtual mode. Despite this, we believe that the whole will be as great as ever before!

“There is really a lot of enthusiasm and new energy in our team. Spring is always the busiest time of the year for us, and now learning how to live a new everyday life has been partly challenging. But if we cannot get together and agree on how to move forward, we have to constantly learn and try out something new. This has been really inspiring. We can’t organize events using just old formulas... we’re now focusing on rethinking the whole.”

Photo: Matias Ulfves

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