23 May, Thursday
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The library of essays of Proakatemia

What did Proakatemia give me? + love letter to Kaaos

Kirjoittanut: Sanni Salokangas - tiimistä Ei tiimiä.

Esseen tyyppi: Blogiessee / 1 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 6 minuuttia.

I had a nice 1,5 year run in Tampere.


I was so damn excited when I started in Proakatemia. Full of ambition and a few small business ventures below my belt. I had just moved away from my hometown for the first time and taking Tampere in. I was head over heels in love with my boyfriend and we had just adopted a little kitten. Living our little family life was amazing and starting studies in Proakatemia in fall 2022 fit it perfectly.


I had no idea how much a location shift and meeting so many new people can change how you view your future. Suddenly, the life I had planned for myself didn’t feel right anymore. My drive for success had started in 2021 with a small digital marketing venture. I saw the power of naiveté when you truly believe in something that is highly likely to fail. Pushing through, gaining momentum, and succeeding even after your own family member laughed at your face, can change the way you view your own potential.


Staying humble is not how I do it. I can be arrogant, pushy, too straight forward, and downright dismissive. What Proakatemia taught me, is listening; Not every word is yours, not every great point is meant to be said by you and not every decision requires your opinion. What matters is that people around you feel heard and understood. Do I genuinely listen to what they are saying or am I thinking of what I’m going to say next? Do I just interrupt them because my point feels more valid? Before Proakatemia the answers for me where no, yes and yes. Proakatemia is an amazing place to learn people-skills. It changed the way how I view myself and people around me so radically that I even walked away from our little family of four years. For that I can blame the new environment; I started finding myself.


The view for my future is so unbelievably grand that I often felt caged in Tampere. People around me weren’t dreaming big enough, they were skeptical and enjoyed staying in the comfort zone. I noticed myself often doing the same and that is what scared me the most. The startup scene was new but had started to intrigue me. I met Gary in Proakatemia, a Vietnamese coder who had an idea, saw that we work great together, and we gathered up a team to start building in tech. I fell absolutely in love with the art that is building a startup. It was amazing to see someone so talented building something complicated from the ground up. I fell in love with the grind, the long hours, the productive days, pitching on stage for strangers, learning about tech markets and terminology. I started meeting people to whom saying “I’m building a unicorn” was in the everyday vocabulary. These people knew what it takes, and they were already doing it.


I now had cofounders, like Dave, who would always reply to me in the middle of the night and explain how seed rounds work or why my domain isn’t propagating. Dave left Proakatemia quickly after and I felt like I lost a best friend. Gary moved away, suffered a major burnout and our venture Sellersea went quickly under. This was the time when I started to feel lonely in Tampere. All I wanted to do was work but I had lost all my hard-working friends. Even my bestie Jacinda went on an exchange, and I started missing having someone who will sit with me in Puisto Café from opening to closing, just to work.


The main thing that our first little startup gave me, however, was that unburnable desire to build and work for something that can have a massive impact in the world. Gary had an influence on me that no one else has ever had. He was so unbelievably hard-working that when he said that he is trying to graduate one year earlier than everyone else, I looked him in the eye and said “Okay, I’ll do it too then”. When he told me that he has scheduled over 300 meetings with random people just to build his network, I got so inspired that I went to 50 networking events in the span of four months. No one had shown me before how bendable rules are and how many cheat codes this life actually gives us. No one had pushed me to challenge myself and do things that are scary as hell. These decisions changed the entire course of my future, and I could not be more grateful that I met both Gary and Dave.

No one had shown me before how bendable rules are and how many cheat codes this life actually gives us.


It was now the beginning of fall 2023 and I was on the mission to network my ass off in Helsinki. Like said, I went to 50 networking events, including Slush, and met over 200 new people. Many of them very such amazing and successful entrepreneurs that I was finally surrounding myself from people who were already where I want to be in five years. I also took advantage of my single life, went on a lot of dates with CEO’s and tech founders and let them tell me everything about business, leadership and building million-dollar companies. I got to talk face-to-face with founders of Tesla, Wolt or Rovio and ask them how they did it. I found the mentorship in Helsinki I was looking for and didn’t find in Proakatemia. I decided to move to Helsinki closer to my family, friends and newly built business network. So far, it has been the best decision I could have ever made.


From the skillsets that I gained from my social media businesses, the knowledge I learned from writing a blog about deep tech and the startup grind -experience from Sellersea, I was able to land a dream job offer from a tech startup that is aiming to the moon. What touched me the most, however, was that a high-level, respected and unbelievably ambitious founder asked me personally to join.


Love letter to Kaaos

Kaaos was an amazing team to be a part of. We had our ups and downs, for sure. Those are what made it fun, frustrating and a great place to learn. I had my time as a business leader, the head of finance but also as a team-worker and a friend. When disrupting changes happen in a team, there are a few people who are not afraid to stand up and take responsibility. Those are the people who should be most respected because they carry all the weight from those who didn’t stand up. For Kaaos, Meri is someone who carries the weight of the entire team and keeps it going. Without her leadership, Kaaos would probably already be in the Proakatemia graveyard. I hope she gets the recognition that she deserves for effort and responsibility, and I hope that the rest of the team is there to ease her weight. I had to let our team down on some responsibilities I thought I could handle. I tried my best to relieve stress from people around me but ended up increasing them for the final run. For that I’m really sorry. I’m rarely think of my actions twice and often take unnecessary risk. Even though that is how I love to live, letting the team suffer from my stupid mistakes isn’t fair.


What’s next?

The networks that I’ve been building allow me now to work with entrepreneurs who have already built multi-million-dollar companies in Finland and internationally. I will be dropping everything else and giving myself to the startup life. There will be nothing cooler than building with people who truly know it is going to be a unicorn. To know that I get to be surrounded by people who inspire that 1% that the remaining 99% work for, feels liberating. Anyways, people from Proakatemia are going to be part of that 1%. Maybe not all of us, but I know a few who have a great shot at it 😉


I’m still studying the best I can and graduating in December 2024 if I choose to. I might have to drop out of school, but it would be boring to admit that I couldn’t juggle 100h work weeks. I’m not a workaholic, I just have a grand vision for myself. I love working towards it and will do everything in my power to inspire more people to dream big. Dreams should be so ridiculously unrealistic that when we aim for them, where we land is exactly where we should be. My final tips: Introduce yourself to EVERYBODY who is doing more than you. Aim high rather than starting out easy. Manifesting is real and nothing in this world is that serious. Stay optimistic and share your light. People will love you for who you are but playing some games smartly never hurts. And for girls: Always dress for the part.



See my trashy blog sannisalokangas.com

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