Volunteering at sTARTUp Day ‒ high energy, awesome people and new skills

What does it feel like to be part of the team organizing sTARTUp Day and experience the creative chaos behind the scenes? We asked our past and present volunteers to share their volunteering experience and highlight some memorable moments on their sTARTUp Day journey.

The most startup-minded business festival could not take place without the combined efforts of our fantastic volunteer team. Each year, the sTARTUp Day festival enlists help from around one hundred bright and tireless volunteers, who assist with nearly every aspect of organizing the event  from registration to logistics, assisting visitors to coordinating the creative program, and speaker management to marketing.

Most volunteers are busy during the festival week, but some roles extend over the whole preparation period. Occasionally, the experience can lead to nothing less than being hired as the event’s head organizer, as you will see!

If you’d like to join sTARTUp Day festival as a volunteer, see more info and apply here.

Mart Lättekivi - volunteer at SD 2019 and 2020, Head Organizer of SD 2022 and 2023

When I first joined SD as a volunteer, my role was to coordinate the volunteer team: recruit the volunteers, find them suitable roles, and lead people. I became really interested in the festival, so I started to ask for more tasks from then head organizer Marili and assist her as an assistant head organizer.

What captivates me about SD is the people  the people who organize the event, the people who attend it, the people who come to speak on the stage. They are just so inspiring! I like the whole idea of a business festival like this and organizing an event at this scale in Tartu. It's a unique event where you have in the same room mayors, top executives, founders, students and just cool people whom it would be a pity not to meet. Every day in the team is crazy ‒  in the most positive sense of the word.

Tejas Anil Shah - volunteer at SD 2021 and 2022 

As an international student, I wanted to be part of the startup community in Estonia, so when the opportunity came to join the program team as a volunteer, I didn't hesitate for a moment. As a Speaker Manager, my job was to communicate with the speakers, coordinate the logistics of their travel and stay, curate their presentations, and make sure that their experience of SD is as amazing as possible. Working with a kickass team built my professional network by leaps and bounds, and having to interact personally with a lot of the speakers gave me a wider perspective about the startup ecosystem.

A memorable moment? As the speaker manager for the Spotlight stage, during a brief technical glitch, I realized that Murphy's law is real and that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. In fact, it can go wrong all at once.

Linda Elisabeth Laur - volunteer at SD 2020, 2021 and 2022

I started in the festival team in 2020, volunteering for a cultural program. The festival added a lot of new contacts and a lot of motivation. During SD 2021, I was already in charge of the opening show and looking for sponsors for a team of one hundred members. Now I'm on next year's team, and I love it. These people and this energy are AMAZING!!!!

A memorable moment? The day before the start of this year's sTARTUp Day festival, I was worried about what would happen if the opening show didn't go as planned, but fortunately, it went quite the opposite. The whole team was present, we saw that the people enjoyed the show and the head organizer was even able to get the mayor of Tartu to dance. Later, seeing how many people filmed and shared this show on social media, we had to admit that we had pulled off something truly cool!

Martin Piilberg - volunteer at SD 2021 and 2022

I played a big role in the logistics team at SD 2021 for almost a week. The most important thing I took with me was the communication part with different people and being creative when dealing with problems. Also, I can truly say that this experience gave me new friends and memories for a lifetime!

A memorable moment? In the logistics team, we had to drive a lot with our true friend Peugeot Boxer, and I was the driver. It wasn’t always easy to do things quickly because of the traffic in Tartu, especially in the rush hours! So at one moment, when we were transporting dozens of plants at 5 PM, my fellow companion Marko was as frustrated as me. So he thought that it would be a great idea to jump out of the van and wanted to become a traffic controller. Luckily the traffic light went green, and we got off quicker than expected. We also met a fellow driver when stopping behind a red light, and Marko had a little chat with him and took a photo.

Eveliis Kallas - volunteer at SD 2020, 2021 and 2022

In both years of volunteering, I was part of the registration team, but also helped out the wardrobe team and the preparation team. I helped to chase down the speakers and I remember very well helping to organize the merch at the merch booth. During my second year, the registration team had more responsibilities because of the COVID-19. We had to check the tickets AND the vaccine certificates. But we managed well!

Nevertheless, I also used the opportunity to take part in the prep team. I haven't run around like that before, and I LOVED IT. I felt more part of that team than last year, and I can't wait to participate in the next festival. What's in common between my first year's experience and my second year's experience? I was helping out the team until it was late at night. 11pm, 12am, 1am? I was there!  

Anette Tiitus - volunteer at SD 2020 and 2021

At my first SD, I helped out with speakers transport. During SD 2021, I was a volunteer member of the communications team for a whole year. During my last year at the university, I was finally aware of what interests me: marketing and communications. So I had set myself the goal of developing my skills in communications, first and foremost writing in writing texts. The funny thing is that I had thought to myself that it would be MEGAcool to volunteer in the SD communications and marketing team. Sometimes the universe allows your dreams to come true :)

The experience allowed me to improve my writing and interviewing skills, but also time planning and discipline. I volunteered on top of my studies and job, which felt like a lot at some moments, but when you are young you jump on the opportunities. It all paid off when I applied for a communications position in my dream company, and got the job!

Laura Raudsepp - volunteer at SD 2019 and 2020, Volunteer Manager of SD 2021 and 2022

During my first festival, I was lucky to be a pair of helping hands for our volunteer manager. The vibe in this team took my breath away, it was love at first sight! Since then, I have been Mrs. Nothing Can Stop Me, always ready to take on new challenges on the way, and the SD team has become my new family.

I would have never imagined myself as a volunteer manager, but I think sTARTUp Day couldn’t be this great without our behind-the-scenes wizards. From the first moment, I was astonished how the team treats all volunteers  they really know their worth and give their best to make this a time to remember. 

Our festival has never stopped surprising me, even if I think I have seen everything by now. Every year we still manage to do something even greater. Festival week is always full of craziness, but seeing how a Sports Hall or a museum turns into a festival in a few days is something I can’t describe, and that's why you have to come and experience this with your own eyes. The final show always ends in happy tears for me. I encourage everybody to come and join us because these vibes and connections are really something out of this world.

Want to be part of the sTARTUp Day adventure and get an experience for a lifetime? See more info and apply here.

If you want to experience the last year’s festival vibes, check out the short video here.

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