The future of mobility is all about networks - and VR is building one with startups

Monday the 12th September was the opening day for VR’s first ever business hackathon, From Door to Door (FIN: Ovelta ovelle). The hackathon is organized in the Central Railway Station. VR has reserved its whole ticket hall for the event.

This hackathon is a big deal for VR.

Minna Miettinen, VR’s Director of Digital sales and marketing for Passenger services, describes From Door to Door as one of VR’s most significant strategic projects in the development of passenger services.

Minna Miettinen, VR's Director of Digital sales and marketing (Photo credit: Essi Ahtola)

Minna Miettinen, VR's Director of Digital sales and marketing (Photo credit: Essi Ahtola)

- The hackathon is a kickstart for accelerating the development of a broad mobility ecosystem in Finland. We aim to explore new business cases in a novel way, and to openly develop a partnership-based approach to the mobility chain, Miettinen says.

Mobility as a Service is a trending term, as are Mobility Chains and ‘From door to door’. They all aim to streamline people’s use of different means of transportations, starting from ticket purchases or ride orders to additional services people could need during their travel.

- Combining public and private transportation and providing additional passenger services isn’t a one-man show, Miettinen says. It’s a combination of multiple services from multiple companies.

Mobility chains require seamless collaboration from service providers in order to thrive as a network. As a major player in the transportation industry, VR has both the resources and the responsibility to be an active network builder in Finland.

Why do this with startups?

VR’s Planning Director Antti Tuominen finds client oriented startups as good partners in developing the user experience in different stages on traveling.

Antti Tuominen, VR's Planning Director (Photo credit: Essi Ahtola)

Antti Tuominen, VR's Planning Director (Photo credit: Essi Ahtola)

- We’re looking for concrete and executable ideas. I’m especially interested in seeing how we can improve the traveling experience to the point where the passenger feels fully in control of their journey, Tuominen says.

- Car owners typically feel in control: they decide when to drive and where to drive. What kind of information and services should be provided for passengers to achieve the same level of trust and feel of control? he asks.

What happens after the hackathon?

Minna Miettinen wants to see the best ideas come to life as soon as possible.

- I need to stay realistic, though. After the hackathon we’ll have further discussions with each startup to see which ideas have business potential from our point of view and which teams want to do business with us. Launching new services won’t happen in a snap of my fingers, but I want to see first pilots happen by New Year.

Avanto Ventures organizes From Door to Door (Ovelta Ovelle) business hackathon for VR from 12th to 16th September with 12 participating startups. The hackathon is a kick off for a more long-term target: to build an extensive innovation and partnership ecosystem around client oriented, door-to-door passenger services.

- Avanto has strong background in organizing events of this kind, which makes me confident this event will be a success, too. The dynamics in big corporations and startups are totally different. As Avanto has insight on how stiff corporations and more agile startups work, and how to collide these two entities in a fruitful way, Minna Miettinen says.

During the event 12 startups participate in developing new services for passengers. Some teams design new services from scratch, some implement their existing technology for new use cases. The winning idea will be selected and announced by VR’s jury on Demo Day, 16th of September. Follow the discussion in social media using hashtag #Oveltaovelle.