It's time to turn your dream into a reality

Join the leading program in Finland for female and non binary business founders

Have you been thinking about a business idea for a long time but feel like you do not know how to take the first steps? 

Spark Academy is teaching you all the skills you need to start your business from scratch and turn your dream into a reality. You will learn how to create an innovative company that makes an impact on many people’s lives.

In the free 3-month program for women and non-binary people, you will learn together with our inspiring community to set up your company for long-term growth and build meaningful connections along the way. 

The first cohort will run from 19th March until 18th June 2024.

Applications are open until 12th March.

Max 25 Participants

3 Months

Entirely free

"Joining Spark Academy has been a game changer for my business."
Minaë Tani-Lafleur, Founder Zestii Kitchens
"I realized being a young female founder was something to be proud of, not a weakness."
Alejandra Cobos, Founder Atlas
"The community at Spark Academy was truly inspiring and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams."
Blen Hailu, Founder KotiBet Home Services
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It's time to turn your dream into a reality

Have you been thinking about a business idea for some time but have been afraid to take the first steps? 

Spark Academy is teaching you all the skills you need to start your business from scratch and turn your dream into a reality. You will learn how to create an innovative company that makes an impact on many peoples’ lives.

In the free 3,5-month program for women and non-binary people, you will learn together with a group of likeminded people, to set up your company for long-term growth and build meaningful connections along the way. 

Our first cohort of 2023 will take place from 28th of February till 13th of June. The second cohort will run from 23rd of August till 12th of December.

Applications for the first cohort are now closed. For the second cohort we open applications 22nd of May. 

Max 25 Participants

3,5 Months

Entirely free

Woman Coding

Bridge the gender gap

Did you know that women make up only one fifth of IT sector employees in Finland? 

We need the female perspective to create technological solutions that serve the needs of both women and men. 

The Shortcut Spark Academy wants to help bridge the gender gap in the tech industry and give you the opportunity to learn basic coding skills to build your own business or manage tech projects.

What You Will Learn in our full-stack development module

You will learn front and back-end development, including building a website and performing tasks related to website architecture. 

These are highly sought-after skills, which will enable you to get started on developing your own product, or help you find a job in the ecosystem.

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Spark Academy Woman Computer

What is the spark academy


The Shortcut Spark Academy is a free eight-month program for women and non-binary people who are interested in the world of entrepreneurship and innovation that is running yearly in 2022 and 2023.

We’re teaching the necessary entrepreneurial skills to open up the door to two paths: entrepreneurship and employment in the startup ecosystem.

Our participants will get the tools to start their own business but we are aware that entrepreneurship might not be for everyone. The skills we are teaching will also give our attendees a higher chance of getting employed in the innovation and tech industry.

Spark Academy Group

THE LEADING PROGRAM IN FINLAND FOR EARLY-STAGE FEMALE AND NON-BINARY ENTREPRENEURS

Spark Academy program is aimed at getting more gender diversity in entrepreneurship. The goal is to build a solid pipeline of future female and non-binary company founders who can inspire the next generations to come.

The 3 month training program offers a coherent and clear path towards starting your own business. The program is held in-person in Helsinki, Kamppi with some sessions online.

The workshop sessions run twice a week, between 10-15. A second Spark cohort for the year 2024 will start after summer.

Who is it for

  • You are driven, motivated, and inspired, and you have a business idea that you want to start working on
  • Your business idea is built on your or your team’s strengths (in some cases we’ll also accept others, but generally we see good results when it plays on existing strengths)
  • You are committed to investing time and effort into building your business or a start-up dream
  • You are excited to create a positive impact to the world
  • You want to build a business that can grow
  • You identify as female or non-binary
Spark Academy Minae

THE OUTCOMES - WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT

The Spark Academy will guide you to start a business from scratch in 3 months. The program is highly practical, giving you tools and teaching methods and knowledge needed to:

  • Get out there into the world and talk directly to your potential customers
  • Assess whether your idea is profitable – and what needs to happen to make it a profitable one
  • Build together a killer business pitch 
  • Understand how to build a team around your idea
  • Utilize the latest tech (AI) for boosting your business
  • Understand the different financing instruments available in Finland
  • Put together a well-backed business plan

Sign up with your email address to receive more info once applications open again: 

Join SPARK LITE - Thrive as a New Entrepreneur

Spark Lite is our coaching & wellbeing program that is open to anyone, not just Spark Academy participants. You will learn the day-to-day skills entrepreneurs on how to cope with the challenges of the entrepreneurial lifestyle: managing your stress levels, dealing with uncertainty and strengthening your resilience to be successful.

In our free life & career coaching and wellbeing sessions, we teach you the kind of mindset, information and skills you need to succeed long term as a business owner. Connect with likeminded people and learn hands-on skills in a safe space (instead of spending hours alone googling by yourself).

Our soft skill workshops run every Friday during Spark Academy. You will get an invite straight into your email two to three weeks in advance with info about the workshop and get priority access to join. 

Sign up now and prioritize yourself:

Spark Lite Woman
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Spark Academy Group Posing

How to Apply

  1. Apply via our application form until 12th March. 
  2. If your application is deemed promising, we will send a Google calendar invitation for a 20-minute interview.
  3. You will be informed if you have been picked for Spark Academy after your interview, latest by 15th of March
  4. Even if we did not send you an interview invitation soon after your submission, we might contact you at a later point in case of any cancellations.
Additional Information: 

Deposit: Applicants selected for the program pay a joining deposit of €100. This is returned upon completion of the program, and upon delivering the final pitch and submission of the business plan built around the criteria. Deposits are not returned to participants who do not complete the program, the pitch and business plan.

TE-Office: If you’re currently registered as an unemployed jobseeker with the TE-office, you need to contact your own TE-office or municipality caseworker BEFORE you apply for Spark Academy (more information in FAQ).

FAQ

Before Applying

Anyone who resides in the greater Helsinki region and identifies as a woman or non-binary. Applications from men will also be considered but the program is primarily targeted towards genders that are currently underrepresented in the startup ecosystem.

We expect you to be fluent in written and spoken English to ensure a successful learning experience.

Applications will be evaluated based on motivation and commitment to completing the program. If you are accepted to the Spark Academy, we expect active participation in the sessions.

We will select 20-25 participants per cohort.

It would be good to have some experience with working in the private sector. In any case, we expect you to be fluent in written and spoken English.

The program is held in-person. We plan to have most of the workshops/activities taking place in person at Maria01, however some workshops might take place online. This will help you get to know the other participants and benefit from face-to-face interaction with coaches and mentors.

Most likely no, but you need to contact your own TE-office or municipality caseworker BEFORE you apply for Spark Academy. The decision of the TE office will depend on your specific situation and if you have participated in any trainings before while being unemployed.
If you are over 25 years old, it should be possible for you to participate while getting unemployment benefits, as long as you maintain your job search at the same time and remain available if a suitable position is offered to you. However, we cannot guarantee this, as the decision remains with the unemployment officials. Studies under 25 hours/week can be counted as part-time study. Our academy should qualify for this.

The Application Process

The selection process includes two rounds:

  • 1st round: Online application 
  • 2nd round: Phone interview with The Shortcut

We will reach out to you latest by 6 August if you were chosen for the Academy.

The online application is open from 29th of May to 30th of July 2023. Suitable participants will be interviewed by phone. Phone interviews will begin during the application period. The final decisions will be announced latest by the 18th of August.

You will receive a decision via email from The Shortcut.

Unfortunately, you cannot postpone nor attend part-time. If for any reason you can no longer participate, please contact us, so that we may offer your place to someone else. We require active participation from the attendees.

Please make sure that you submit your application. We do not receive any data from incomplete applications. If you did not receive a confirmation email (please check your spam folder) after submitting, most likely you did not go through all the steps of the application. Please go back to the application form and make sure to go through every step of the form. 

About the program

About the program

The program language is English.

The academy teaches all the necessary skills in marketing, sales, tech, and entrepreneurship, to support you in establishing and running your own business or a startup. In addition there will be mindset-coaching and wellbeing workshops offered regularly throughout the program.

The Cohort 2 of the program runs from 23rd of August till 12th of December, 2023. We are kicking off the academy with an opening day on the 22nd of August.

The estimated time investment into the program is 17 hours/week and we expect active participation from our participants. If you have any questions or doubts regarding this, contact the Spark Academy’s Program Manager via

vivian.maar @theshortcut.org

 

The program itself is free of charge. However, we do require chosen participants to pay a deposit of €100. This is returned on completion of the program and submission of the business plan. Deposits are not returned to participants who do not complete the program and business plan. If you have any struggles with paying the amount, let us know in the interview.

You can expect to get both theoretical and practical support for founding and running your business/start-up. You can also expect to be part of a community that believes in you, and where all the topics of being a founder and finding your way as a female or non-binary entrepreneur can be honestly discussed. In addition to group-based studies, you will be supported 1-1 in your business. Last but not least you will receive coaching in resilience, mindset and wellbeing, which are all integral parts in succeeding as a fresh business owner.

First, we expect active participation in the sessions and commitment to the program.

By the end of the program, we expect our participants to: 

  • Deliver us an executable business plan for their idea

We will of course be supporting you fully in taking those steps.

The Shortcut Spark Academy is a meaningful, practical, and intentional program that is designed to pull the curtains back on the startup ecosystem, by offering training in entrepreneurship, marketing, and digital skills with the focus of helping you to found and run your start-up dream. To set up our participants for success, we will also coach them in the emotional resiliency needed to succeed. It is the first program of its kind built by women for women, that specifically addresses the challenges, unique responsibilities, and professional biases that women and non-binary people face.

What participants say

The schedule

26th February – 12th March: Application Period 

(latest) 15th March: Suitable Participants are Informed

19th March: Spark Cohort 1 2024 Opening Day

19th March – 18th June: Spark Academy Autumn Cohort

Days
Hours
Minutes

Sign up for more info about Spark Academy autumn cohort 2023 and get an email notification when applications open: 

PROJECTS PARTNERS

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ECOSYSTEM PARTNERS

Espoo Logo
TNA Logo
Startup Foundation Logo
IWWOF Logo

Got more questions?

Reach out to our Project Manager: 
Vivian Maar, [email protected]