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Hackathon Diaries: Kuohu Creative hackathon

Can you do creative business development in a hackathon?


Last weekend we participated in one of the most exciting hackathons in a long time, Kuohu Creative hackathon by Luova Aalto. As a manifestation of the core idea behind Luova Aalto, multi-disciplinary and creativeness combined, this hackathon was all about creative problem-solving. So, during the weekend we did not write even a line of code, nor did we open Sketch or other UI tools either. Instead, we talked, questioned, and formed solutions such as pricing models for companies and brands you rarely see in hackathons.

Seeing as Kuohu was first of its kind, we were slightly skeptic if it could live up to its promises and whether we could provide any meaningful solutions in our challenge by Fazer.

Pssst. If you are organizing a hackathon, this was something you might want to benchmark.


Friday was all about getting to understand the challenge. At Demos Helsinki’s premises, we heard short introductions from all participating companies, after which all of us hacking for Fazer moved to another room for confidentiality reasons. All the doubts we had had about the challenge objectives quickly faded away, once Fazer revealed what we were going to be working on in this hackathon. Our task revealed to be the creation of a new, innovative business model for Fazer to support their new digital service.

After the brief was done, we started going through the background material again and discussing with the mentors (we’re sorry if it felt like a police interrogation, it’s easy to get carried away with questioning when you’re super excited). In the end, we had a pretty good grasp on what kind of a solution Fazer was looking for; now we just needed to make it solid and believable.

Since we ended Friday quite early, there was plenty of time to contemplate our future, discuss our dreams, and build up the team spirit with Luova Aalto’s gift to us, Rami. The best way to do that was, of course, navigating to the nearest bar and grabbing a couple of cold ones from the tap. Now, we had not met Rami previously, but oh boy, did we quickly realize how incredibly talented he was, and how excellent an addition he was to our team! Once we parted ways for the evening, Olli and I both had the same thing in our minds, working with Rami would be awesome!


Amidst rain and overcast skies, we jumped on a ferry to Suomenlinna, a place well fit for hacking, in the morning. After getting out the post-its and pens, we started working straight away, as there was no time to waste. Pitches would start at half-past four, and we were seven hours away apart from that.

“And who doesn’t want a free lunch?”

Unfortunately, we can not go into detail on what our proposal ended up being, as the service is not yet public. Let’s just say it involved free lunches. Here’s a couple of good pictures on how we worked on the solution!

Getting feedback for our business plan from D11’s Tuomas Ylä-Kauttu. On the table, you can spot the best hackathon beverage ever, the Ginger Pepsi Max.

When it was time to pitch, Olli climbed on stage and started going through our holistic approach that tied in the business model and the future of the service. Earlier on we had made some bold choices on the pricing, and our numbers raised some serious doubts in us and in the jury.

“Umm… does this look right?”

At the end of just one intensive day, Fazer had 5 different but viable revenue models in their hands. All the solutions were excellent and it was definitely not an easy task for the jury to pick only one winner. Our solution, however, ended up being the winning one, despite the hard questions it got from the jury. The jury actually thought that our solution was so simple that it irritated them greatly that they had not thought about it themselves.


We had a blast in this hack and based on our conversation with Luova Aalto, so did everybody else. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to witness what the teams had created in other challenges, for Jenkki and Happy Joe, but based on the atmosphere of the finals teams had a lot of fun working on those solutions.

At first, we were doubtful whether such a short hackathon could work in innovating a completely new business model for an existing service. But, this hackathon proved to be wildly successful in doing exactly that. This event serves as further proof for our view that a multidisciplinary team, design thinking, and constant questioning can solve basically any problem.

I will conclude this Hack Report by saying that Kuohu Creative was one of the friendliest yet one of the most effective hackathons we have seen in a long time. Not to mention the level of production and attention to detail in the participant experience, which were truly stellar. I’ve personally witnessed only one hackathon having this high level of production before, and they had a god damn film crew on the venue.