In the STARTERtallinn spring season finals held on 26 May at the Latitude59 conference, the Grand Prix prize was awarded to the Tallinn University team Upit, consisting of Triinu Roosvalt, Riina Näälik and Marit Lillenberg.
The start-up idea Upit, which is authored by the 2nd year students of TLU's Haapsalu College, aims to be a trusted partner for the public sector and large companies in providing solutions for the management of branded clothing and other regulated textile waste in a circular economy.
According to Upit team member Triinu Roosvalt, the idea grew out of a desire to find an environmentally sustainable solution for the judges' robes that have been discarded from the Estonian judicial system. As this type of waste is not allowed to enter the wider society in its original form, it currently ends in either landfill or is incinerated in a boiler to produce energy.
Participating in the STARTERtallinn programme helped the Upit team get to the heart of the problem. During the training sessions and discussions, it became clear that there are already areas for improvement in ordering, using and disposing of uniforms at the point of procurement. Within the project, the Upit team developed an idea to provide a cost-effective and brand-supportive full-service solution for the handling of uniforms for the public and other large companies. The development of the concept also took into account the EU regulation that will come into force in 2025, which will oblige companies to collect garments separately and treat them in a circular economy. “Latitude59's presentation of our idea was important because we got a good experience and idea of how a startup works. It also gave us ideas and good contacts through which to develop the idea further,” explained Triinu Roosvalt.
According to the entrepreneur and Tallinn University entrepreneurship consultant Martin Bristol, who mentored the Upit team, it was amazing to see how a creative idea inspired by personal interest and societal concern grew into a complete service that solves a big problem. "It's a joy to see creative people and creative entrepreneurs who can think big, but at the same time in a very constructive and solution-oriented way. Upit was able to smile through the most difficult bottlenecks, and we will no doubt be hearing more about Triinu, Riina and Marit and what they are doing."
Lennart Mathias Männik, Programme Manager at Tallinn University's STARTRtallinn, regards the programme as a great opportunity for students to test their bright business ideas and challenge themselves in the world of startups.
Apart from the grand prize, the Upit team received a number of other special awards from STARTERtallinn's long-standing partners, such as Tallinn Creative Incubator, Tehnopol, and Tera Ventures.
While the Grand Prix prize includes a cash prize of 1000 euros and 3 years of web hosting service from Veebimajutus.ee and a gift bag from Startup Estonia, the special prize from Tallinn Creative Incubator guarantees free entrance to three trainings and consultations. A special prize from Tehnopol will provide free mentoring sessions and a special prize from Tera Ventures will provide mentoring sessions with members of the investment team.
The award ceremony, which took place in the framework of Latitude59, also marked the end of the Spring 2023 season of the STARTERtallinn entrepreneurship education programme. The autumn season of STARTERtallinn starts already on 14 September. For more information on the STARTERtallinn start-up programme, visit the Success & Action STARTERtallinn website and Facebook page.
A photo gallery of the event can be found here.