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Friday, January 21, 2022

Female-founded Finnish startup StepOut aims to simplify freelancing

Tarnjit Saini 25, born in India, raised in Finland; Sanni Ishfaq 25, born and raised in Finland, with a Pakistani descent came together as student entrepreneurs in 2019 to build a solution to assist freelancers in the field of fitness, wellness and recreation to build and grow their businesses without having to spend excessive amounts of time, effort and resources. With a personal background of being a dance trainer, Tarnjit had experienced all the pain-points herself for 7 years that a trainer has to go through if they are not associated with a bigger gym or studio, do not have the right opportunities and most importantly do not speak the same language no matter how vastly skilled they are in their own expertise. Tarnjit and Sanni joined hands, unlocked their risk-taking mindset with much needed determination and belief in each other and stepped into their first entrepreneurial journey together.

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The Finnish startup ecosystem has been a core part of StepOut’s journey from shaping the founders and being the testbed for the startup. From the regional incubators & accelerators such as NewCo. Helsinki, MEGE, Hatch, Boost Startup Journey, KIUAS, Unconventional Ventures Accelerator to various National & Nordic competitions namely Helsinki Startup Circus, Arctic15, *Ship Startup Festival, Entrepreneurship World Cup National Finals, Slush 100 – the founders have had their share of wins & learnings.It is after a lot of iterations, twists and turns, testing, amazing milestones, from bagging a project from the City of Helsinki to becoming the 3rd Hottest Startup of Finland in March 2021 (Startup 100) and after numerous learnings that the team of 5 had been through, StepOut is ready to tap into the Indian subcontinent to empower freelancers to earn a living out of what they love.

StepOut is building an all-in-one, affordable and user-friendly SaaS tool to assist freelancers in streamlining their business processes just like a smart manager. With this tool a freelancer can establish and improve their personal branding, publish, sell and host sessions, track bookings, receive payments, marketing and much more – enabling smooth operations & smarter execution utilising data analytics & machine learning. StepOut aims to help freelancers in turning their passion into a profession in the most convenient way possible with this little manager in their pocket, no matter what background one comes from or what kind of tech expertise they have.

“StepOut liberates people to do what they love for a living. It’s definitely a cause worth fighting! A great team and a lucrative market nailed the deal.” – Teemu Takala, Angel investor & Venture builder

With the right kind of support and guidance from 11 notable investors from Finland, Belgium and Sweden, the startup is setting foot into the Indian market where a waiting list of trainers is already looking forward to the launch of the tool that will change their operations for the best. The round is being leveraged by Business Finland TEMPO funding.

StepOut raised their first angel round of 158k euros led by Mr. Reima Linnanvirta (Chairman of Finnish Business Angels Network).

‘’StepOut is tackling a significant problem in the wellness and fitness market by enabling and empowering independent trainers to provide classes to users around the world. The market is growing and there are good opportunities for a solution like this, especially in the targeted market like India. As founders Tarnjit and Sanni have shown to have skills that are required to build a world-class startup.’’ – Mr. Reima Linnanvirta, Angel Investor

“StepOut is impacting positively to people’s wellbeing and environment, both very important topics for me personally. StepOut is tapping into the fast growing trend of utilising remote tools in wellness, making activity events accessible for anyone, anywhere, anytime and saving time and travelling. I was very impressed with the team, their approach and how they are empowering the trainers and solving real-life problems of micro entrepreneurs.” – Mr. Ilari Kallio, Investor & Chairman of the Board, StepOut

The South Asian female founders happen to be the first youngest entrepreneurs of the descent in Finland to have secured an investment at this stage. “We feel extremely lucky to be able to create convenient earning opportunities for a huge number of people where they can earn a living by doing what they love the most using our solution. Escalating this journey hasn’t been all sunshine but it feels amazing to know that our investors have put in their full trust in us and are equally supportive of our mission.’’- Tarnjit Saini & Sanni Ishfaq, StepOut Founders

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