A Startup Community has to Think Like a Startup

Teemu Pinomäki & Mirella Mellonmaa Tribe

Teemu Pinomäki, COO, and Mirella Mellonmaa, Marketing Lead of Tribe Tampere Entrepreneurial Community tells us how the company serves the entire Tampere startup ecosystem by uniting startups. 

Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined Tribe

Teemu Pinomäki: As a student, I learned the importance of community for me and its huge potential to create change in our surroundings. So, in 2017 I heard about these people who were planning to create a startup community in Tampere, and it was clear that I had to meet these people. Since then, I have been part of this community of inspiring people.

Mirella Mellonmaa: A couple of years ago, I worked in a different company that regularly hosted startup events in the Tribe Tampere Community Space. I was fascinated by the friendly vibe I was always greeted with, and when Tribe had a job opening for a Marketing Lead, I applied and have been part of the community ever since.

Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?

Teemu Pinomäki: I tend to daydream a lot! I used to think it was a waste of time

from a more “productive” way of thinking, but now I’ve realized its

importance for my confidence and a positive mindset. I encourage everyone to go

for long walks and dream about the strangest things possible.

Mirella Mellonmaa: I used to hate networking, but now I have realized it has an immense power to get help, give help and create new ideas! I try to connect with people daily, even about small things; what kind of coffee they like, where they are planning to go on holiday, etc., and see where the conversations go!

How does Tribe market its product/services online? 

Mirella Mellonmaa: We have established social media channels and a regular newsletter, as well as internal messaging apps. We are also partnering with other organizations to help each other in digital marketing activities. It’s very important for us to constantly test, measure and pivot our marketing efforts to best fit the needs of our potential community members. As new channels emerge, we test them out to see if it works with our needs, and sometimes we also take down channels that don’t bring value anymore.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?

Mirella Mellonmaa: We have a social media scheduling tool called Loomly that I could not live without anymore. It’s particularly handy to have all the social media analytics within the same tool. Also, in a busy working environment where we don’t have tons of resources to put in, for example, graphic design, Canva has been an irreplaceable tool for quick, good-looking visuals. We also have regular workshops with the whole team to plan our upcoming marketing activities. 

Of course, in a community like ours, one of the biggest marketing tools is our team, spreading the word through casual conversations in our community space daily. Getting to know the people in the community by casual chatting helps us recommend the best services for their specific needs.

What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?

Teemu Pinomäki: I try to pay a lot of attention to this myself because, at the end of the day, it’s always about people. We receive several dozen applicants a year for volunteer positions, and I feel that each of them has the potential to develop both the community and themselves, as long as the role is defined as appropriate.

Nowadays, in an interview, I ask people freely to tell me who they are, where they come from, and where they want to go. This discussion can be used as a basis for going into strengths and opportunities for their development. My job is to shut up and listen as much as possible. After the meeting, I try to form an idea of a possible role and tasks and make a proposal.

We require self-management and an entrepreneurial attitude, so the role and the task must be aligned with the individual’s values, goals, and skills.

How are you funding your growth?

Teemu Pinomäki: Different funds and grants are our main instruments to fund our growth. Our goal is to develop the growth mindset of driven individuals, entrepreneurs, and communities in the Tampere region. The development of our funding requires that we can show that our actions are making positive progress towards this goal.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Both: Our model is to connect, enable and strengthen the existing ecosystem. So, we don’t have competitors in the traditional sense, only cooperation. And as long as you don’t see enemies around you but opportunities and cooperation, you will succeed by supporting others.

Tell us a customer success story of yours.

Teemu Pinomäki: 2020 Ronnie Nygren joined our community as he had just moved to Tampere with a business idea and looking to network in the Tampere startup scene. From the beginning, Ronnie was very active and soon was able to gather a small team around him. Through us, he found out about the Red Brick accelerator program, and after the program ended, they got a hot desk spot from the startup house Platform6. Now they have expanded so exponentially that they recently got their own office, and the growth does not seem to stop! Check them out: https://commuapp.fi/en/ 

Your final thoughts?

Mirella Mellonmaa: To build and maintain a thriving Startup Community where information flows freely, we have to stay close to the startups and get to know them also on a more personal level. We need to stay vigilant and agile in our actions and be ready to try out new ideas, develop existing ones, and sometimes toss some old projects out of the window.

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