The City of Espoo was one of the first Catchbox customers and storytellers. Today Catchboxes are used by happy customers around the world. 

To design is easy. To come up with new ideas that truly change the way we work is difficult

Encountersthe source of innovation 

International, talented Aalto University students met at Aalto Design Factory. They became friends. In order to pass a course organised by Aalto and Stanford University, they needed to create something new. And they noticed a problem that many had, but no one had noticed. They had succeeded in posing a new question.

At countless lectures and conferences it was difficult for audience members to ask questions. To solve this, the team set about to create the world’s first throwable microphone that could be easily passed from one audience member to the next. The idea for Catchbox was born.

The City of Espoo helps startups grow

The team was excited about their idea. To see how far they could “fly with it” they applied for participation in the incubation programme Summer of Startups organised in the neighbouring Startup Sauna and supported by City of Espoo. 

During the nine week programme the team validated their business case, worked on endless prototypes of the product and tried to figure out a working business model.

Many of the things the team built failed, but they kept working hard and to their own surprise they were declared winners of the programme.

Choosing the wrong business model

After Summer of Startups the team got an office where they built a few throwable microphones. Everybody loved the concept.

You could feel the tension of the entire crowd when the microphone was mid-air. “Will she catch it?” was the question no one spoke out loud. Catchbox really revived the Q&A sessions.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the team—young and inexperienced as they were—could move forward but chose the wrong business model: renting the Catchboxes. It didn’t work that well.

18 months of hard work led to a better design and product. The tailorable “skin” of the product made it best suited for professionals who organise events. And the surrounding ecosystem including the City of Espoo with active links to global players helped the team succeed.

Presidents, ministers but most importantly—enthusiastic voices

The City of Espoo was one of the first Catchbox customers and storytellers. Today Catchboxes are used by happy customers around the world. The customers are served through a network of global partners. Sales happen either on the Internet or via established sales channels.

Today, Presidents and ministerial delegations get to see and experience Catchbox in action when they visit the Espoo Innovation Garden. Or Slush. Or Aalto University. But that is not enough for Co-founder Pyry Taanila and the rest of the Catchbox team.

How to engage the audience is a question they may have answered today. But could they bring the Catchbox experience to virtual meetings too? The moment when the audience has a voice?

The Importance of design in product developmentA way of thinking

Design has been an essential part of Catchbox from the very beginning. At Catchbox design is a way of thinking. We are not the only ones—many companies have realized the importance of design integration, from startups to large corporations.

In June, Catchbox received the Red Dot Product Design award, and more recently Pyry Taanila, our lead designer & co-founder, was awarded the title of “Young Designer of the Year 2015” in Finland.

Startup Sauna is an accelerator program that is run twice a year in Espoo Innovation Garden. It targets the most promising startups in Northern and Eastern Europe. The city of Espoo supports Sauna’s Summer of Startups incubation programme. The Startup Sauna co-working space in Espoo Innovation Garden is the meeting point for the most driven entrepreneurs in Northern Europe. The 1500 sq. meter renovated industry hall is open for everyone.