Choose Your Future Creates a Mobile Guide to New University Students
​Matti Sahi, Susanna Lahtinen and Katerina Panina say that, besides the business aspect, they have a vision of a better world where everyone can find their own community. At its best, the service can prevent loneliness and exclusion. – We have a strong desire to do work that is socially significant and helps people move forward in their lives, says Lahtinen.

​Choose Your Future, CYF Digital Services in the trade register, was developed by six students of Turku School of Economics: Hanna Aho, Susanna Lahtinen, Joonas Lyytikäinen, Mikael Orpana, Katerina Panina and Matti Sahi.

– Our application supports adjusting to the new region, whether the incomer is a refugee, student or someone moving here because of work, says student and entrepreneur Katerina Panina.

The University of Turku is the first organisation to try out the new application and it will be offered to all the new students arriving next autumn. The mobile app has three different features: information, events and maps. The information feature provides both standard information and contents that are tailored to the client's wishes. In the event feature, all the registered users can create new events, and the map feature places the information and events to a specific locations.

One of the key goals of the University of Turku is to strengthen entrepreneurial attitude as well as activities that support entrepreneurship in the entire community. According to Rector Kalervo Väänänen, the work of the students who founded CYF Digital Services is exactly what the University wants to promote.

– The company founded by our students has a great business idea, which at the same time supports our goal of making Turku into the best student city in Finland. Choose Your Future will tailor the contents of the application to our students' needs so that they can find all the necessary information of their new place of residence, says Rector Väänänen.

First Version of the App Presented at Washington and the United Nations

The goal of the company is to sell the service both nationally and internationally and language versions are drafted according to the clients' needs. The client, for example, a city, a company or a university, offers the service to the users and is responsible for the service costs. The application is free for the users but requires registration. This is how the service creates a safe community.

– The service is meant for people who are building their lives in a new city. There is a mountain of information available but many people think it is difficult to find. Our application offers the information that is essential to the user, says student and entrepreneur Matti Sahi.

The new entrepreneurs describe their service as glocal, combining the global world with local needs.

The students got the idea for the app on a marketing course at Turku School of Economics. During the course, the students participated in a competition organised by the U.S: Department of State and Facebook, the purpose of which was to develop solutions that prevent radicalisation. 

At that time, a record number of refugees arrived to Finland and the students tried to help them to adjust to Turku with events, social media and a mobile application. The students came up with the app and its purpose was to facilitate people's access to the community and therefore prevent social exclusion.

The mobile app offered refugees useful information about their new home town in their native language. The app was also linked to a Facebook page that offered a chance for interaction and sharing events that were suitable for refugees.

Choose Your Future won the Facebook Global Digital Challenge and the students were invited to Washington to present their project to the United States Government. Later, the group was also invited to the UN's General Assembly to give a presentation at the peace and security session.

– After our experiences last spring and some very positive feedback, we thought that Choose Your Future is a great app and it shouldn't be cast aside. We considered a few options: do we continue as a charity, under an organisation or work as an individual company? We decided to found a company so that we can properly invest in the business and have a genuine influence on society, says student and entrepreneur Susanna Lahtinen.
Text: Erja Hyytiäinen
Photo: Antti Tarponen
Translation: Mari Ratia

Published date 1/5/2017 9:10 AM ,  Modified date 1/5/2017 9:13 AM

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