… but do I dare to participate without a team?

That was my concern after calling everybody who I thought could be interested even a little in Linko and then receiving refusals for various reasons. It was specified in the event description that help would be given in forming the teams, but what if everybody had a team already, and some team would have to take me along just out of pity?

Even when driving towards Design Factory, we half-joked about turning around and going home to curl up under a blanket to watch Netflix. Fortunately, we did not, because the weekend turned out to be even better an experience than I could have imagined: a leap outside my comfort zone where I was faced with unexpected new acquaintances, where I got to strengthen the sense of my know-how, and where I rejoiced in the feeling of participating in an exciting project.

Well, what happened at the Linko 2016 hackathon, then? It went something like this:

Friday: Kick off
At the beginning, to help forming the groups and breaking the ice in general, we spent time in getting acquainted with each other. Before the teams were formed, the cooperation companies – Claned Group and Sulaton Oy – had presented their challenges to the contestants. The challenges were open, and the companies hoped that the contestants would find solutions either by tackling challenges in their ready-made products, or by creating additional content for them. Expressing your preference for one of the challenges was a key component in forming the groups, and the process was surprisingly fast and painless.

Saturday: Work it
The day dedicated to working was nicely divided into passages by workshops on conceptualizing (a brand new thing to me) as well as by an inspiring keynote speech by Mervi Pänkäläinen, the CEO of Mightifier. Help was provided by specific facilitators who ensured that every team was heading towards the right direction.

Sunday: Finalize and show off
The morning began with a brunch, continued with a workshop on pitching, and hurried along to the finale in the afternoon. The hurry and excitement were at such levels that guzzling Red Bulls was no longer necessary. At the finale, moods were high and the stress that had accumulated over the weekend began to unravel.

I and many other participants have been very grateful afterwards for daring to participate without knowing almost anybody from the event beforehand. Sure, I was in the same team with my husband, but the two other team members were completely new acquaintances, one of whom knew nobody from the event. This enabled us to start with a clean slate. The excitement and hectic environment also meant that it would’ve been unnecessary to marvel at our team roles or to be unsure about our teamwork skills. We worked together naturally, and whenever we ran into problems, we got a lot of help from the instructions as well as from the Linko crew members who were always willing to help in times of need. At the end of the day, Linko is not only about what you’re capable of, but what you still don’t know you're capable of. See you at Heureka! :)

Tuija Cornér