Camping on high The campus’ rainbow-coloured workspace is located high above acres of forest on the fourth ﬂoor of Open Innovation House, yet it is no ivory tower. Instead, this intensive mobile app incubator keeps participating teams ﬁrmly grounded – they’re working with the industry’s best to ﬁne-tune both their app and their business model. A multi-million euro partnership between Nokia, Microsoft and Aalto University, the accelerator is aimed at cherry-picking the world’s brightest mobile app talent and pitching them into an intensive development programme. The so-called campers work with industry gurus, companies and service providers, moving the concept of advanced learning away from something that exists at the lofty peaks of academia and grounding it in real world expertise. The payoff for the corporate backers is that the apps are released exclusive to Windows for the ﬁrst 90 days. The developers beneﬁt from a fair bit of cash and a whole lot of learning. Over four intensive weeks, around 20 international businesses are put through their paces. The programme teaches them how to clean up designs, polish processes, tailor a business strategy and streamline a sales pitch, ﬁne-tuning everything towards the perfect launch onto the market. At the end of a very selective application process, teams are chosen and granted a sizeable cash injection, which is doled out in increments as they pass certain milestones. Some lucky ones also get to attend the course. According to participants, the cash is really just a bonus – they unanimously agree that the course itself is priceless.
Doing it better The Lithuanian team’s cute and ﬂuffy sheepherding app is designed to create a window of peace for frazzled parents – born in part out of a need for Tomas to keep at least one of his three small children momentarily occupied. Kids are going to ﬁddle with phones anyway, Tomas ﬁgures, so he thinks it’s better that they play with something sweet and harmless that doesn’t involve the violent death of nature’s creatures. His team had already launched the app, got great reviews and a relatively consistent trickle of downloads, but were ﬂummoxed as to how to rack up more downloads. “I was quite sceptical about taking a course – 9 times out of 10 you get nothing out of it,” he says. But he decided to give AppCampus a shot. “We needed knowledge,” says Tomas. “Locally in Lithuania, I wasn’t able to get the right kind of 36 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 09
Since returning home from AppCampus, Lithuanian Tomas Sakalauskas says his company is ﬁnally ready to take on larger scale projects. “We are dealing with publishers, approaching investors and we prepare marketing activities way before anything is released. Now we understand how things should be done.” Pocket Sheep: We’re lost, we’re cute and we need your help! The sheepherding app of the No Brakes Games team is designed for kids to play with something sweet and harmless.
The Aalto University Magazine issue 09 deals with questions related to health care.