Weekend seminar

A seminar took place on Saturday, where a truly badass start-up introduced their business models through the principles introduced by iEngine and Lean Startup. The day was led by Alar Kolk, the founder and leader of the European Academy of Innovation (http://inacademy.eu/). All-in-all a very intense and enjoyable day. Taking part in an event led by such a charismatic and knowledgeable individual was truly an honor. Kadi and Marilyn were unfortunately unavailable due to them being in Berlin and all. That of course doesn't mean that the day was wasted, as we took it upon ourselves to discuss, present and improve ourselves, and later share our findings with them.  

We constructed a working theory of how we're gonna market our product, including potential clientele and vision.

You were probably already aware that RailReed is for the innovative textile artist or hobbyist, whereas those artists and hobbyists probably live in a more rural area, are very up to date on their specialty literature and are very social? I also believe that their homes are already fully decorated with golden-yellow Christmas lights and a very fashionably dressed-up Christmas tree, near which a chair awaits its master, equipped with a weaving zmagazine and a cup of coffee.

In practice, this means that RailReed should find some way into textile magazines (done) and some bigger textile blogs (in progress). This of course isn't your job, dear reader, though spreading the word is always welcome. 

The day ended with the Ajujaht Christmas party. 

Sunday, on the other hand, was less eventful (one might even say boring). Meaning we started dealing with numbers and bookkeeping. We started researching into the financial side of making a business model. The founder of Eesti Äriinglite Association, Startup Wise Guys, Civitta and many other business startups and investor Riivo Anton talked about teamwork, camaraderie and money. 

After lunch the former lead-editor of Eesti Ekspress and Eesti Päevaleht, Aavo Kokk, talked about the finances involved in starting a new company. Aavo likes to introduce himself as just a negotiator and writer. He provides very compelling examples and thus makes understanding numbers and raw data much easier. I've gathered quite a fair amount of information about bookkeeping during my life (of which I've understood much less), but no-one has ever told me anything about actually starting off the “book” that “book”keeping is all about. I, as someone who loves words, instantly felt connected to everything. (I say this knowing full well that my grammar will now get scrutinized to death. It's been many years since I last entered a philology lecture, man.) 

And thus RailReed keeps on marching forward (like its bosom-buddy Stepping reed) and creating its novel and interesting patterns.

These hands were made for weaving, and that's just what they'll do!


TV morning

We were invited onto the fairly prestigious early morning TV show Terevisioon. First we were covered with makeup while drinking some coffee. Marilyn drew the better end of the stick, as she was attended to by a seemingly more experienced makeup artist than the rest of us, as their conversation in the chair next to me was all about eyelashes and foundation. My head, meanwhile, was being dunked in something resembling lacquer, which helped keep my hair from spiking up due to anxiety. Looking at each-others' plastic looking faces was the funniest thing I'd seen in a long time. A long conversation with some musicians that had wandered into the room while the hosts were doing their morning routine ensued, leading to many goofy and funny moments. "Look, the weaver can change patterns in REALTIME!" one musician told to his friend. Also, we're now officially selling our product as RailReed Beta, as suggested by Matis during the export lecture.

Photos by Tarmo Tilsen

Our Reed sees the Jury of the competition Ajujaht (Brainhunt)

The 28th was a momentous day, as the second round of Ajujaht separated the man-ideas from the boy-ideas. Half of our team presented our idea: The Leonardo-esque inventor Kadi, developer and „We're actually serious about this“ factor Tõnis as well as the world-class wordsmith Anneli. The others were behind the scenes providing moral support. 

It genuinely was a long day full of adrenaline, laughing, inventing and lots and lots of rehearsing. We were told to arrive at 1 PM on the nose, which wasn't a problem since we had decided beforehand to meet earlier to practice our speech. We arrived with plenty of time to spare for calming those stomach-churning butterflies everyone seems to get, especially since our performance was scheduled for around 4 PM. Luckily, everyone's spirits were high and the competition was friendly enough, so that long wait didn't seem nearly as dreadful as expected. During that time we managed to giggle ineffectually at some media types and do a 10 second pitch of our idea. All of a sudden, we were standing behind that door, number tags and all, listening to a very thorough explanation of where we need to stand during what phase of the event. All hail Kadi, who decided to shoulder the burden of being our spokesperson, mostly due to us being very vocal about her being the only person to talk. She managed to pull a victory from the jaws of defeat and the judges even commented something along the lines of „If everything you're saying is true, then this might just be the most innovative idea we've seen here today.“ 

Huzzaa! Turns out you CAN innovate even in traditional fields. 

The results of this stage will be made public at 16:30, so we're really excited. 

This of course doesn't mean that we'll be sitting around doing nothing in the mean time. We all have our objectives and assignments, and will be working hard to make it happen. 


Training for the business idea competition Brainhunt (Ajujaht)
The member of our RailReed team Anneli Arro shares her impressions

It's late, but I can't calm down. My heart is in overdrive from those three extra cups of coffee and pure adrenaline. Our team attended a lecture on how to pitch products. Funnily enough, even though the lecture itself was in Estonian, they still insisted on using the English word “pitch”. I guess it just sounds more aggressive, like beating someone down or a high-stakes fight to the death. A sales pitch should last no more than 3 minutes, during which you should try to sell your product or idea as convincingly to investors as possible. Digressions and excess cliche sayings should be avoided, while remaining as factual and understandable as possible, without boring the audience. Our team is more than up to the task.

We were also introduced to the so-called 'grandma test', where you imagine a fictitious granny and see if she understands your product. This was no obstacle for us, of course, since all grannies are very well versed in words like loom and warp and reed. Them app developers are in a heap of trouble when it comes to weaving.  

The next round is on the 28th of November, where only 30 out of 100 ideas will pass. 

The day was jam packed full of interesting opportunities for brainstorming and presenting our product. We heard everyone's ideas and it soon became clear that Kadi's comment of us being the only non-IT developer turned out to be false. 

Later that day we visited Kadi's studio. A place filled to the brim with things and projects and the mother of all looms. That was probably the most magnificent in-development project I've ever seen, with the exception of RailReed, of course. I won't go in depth here but just try to imagine a simple loom having a child with the Terminator, that child now resides in that studio. 

We're looking forward to the next round on the 28th, where most of the 100 ideas will be plucked out and only 30 will continue. Even now I can feel my blood pressure rising to dangerous levels. 

Good luck, people!