The Singa “Shenanigans” is the company's offsite tradition. Initially inspired by the Finnish team-building culture of getting a cabin in the woods over a weekend, the general ideas is that you’d get to know your colleagues in a non-work-related setting with beers and sauna for a couple of nights.
The team has followed the tradition since the company's inception, going for these weekend trips, every six months. The goal has always been to drive team cohesion and bonding without official work-related activities. It also seeks to give the team a "mental curve ball", so that the team would be more receptive to new ideas.
Whether it's visiting Berlin and watching the "bearpits" legendary karaoke or visiting the "Ghasthouse" in the center of the small Finnish town of Jämsä, it's always unique and different in its own way.
Wanting to adhere to company tradition and use another Finnish cultural tradition as inspiration, the team headed to Tallinn for a weekend trip for a local culinary and nightlife experience. With most of the program revolving around Telliskivi, the creative cradle of Estonia.
DAY 1 - Smokey lunch
Taking the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn took 2 hours and included a round of drinks on the rear deck to celebrate the start of the trip. Once we arrived, the team headed to check-in at the hotel of choice, Metropol Spa-hotel, before heading out for lunch in the Telliskivi area at a true beef smokery called “One-Sixty.”
The restaurant prides itself in leaving out all the fancy stuff – just beer, whiskey and smoked meat. Not to mention, it is both a restaurant and a motorbike repair shop, with it’s own clothing store for your die hard motorcycle fans. The team enjoyed the “raw attitude” of the restaurant's atmosphere, even if the venue did not accommodate those who were vegetarian all too well.
DAY 1 - Nudist winery
After a hefty lunch, the team headed next door for some wine and cider tasting at Nudist Winery. Nudist's mission is to start and lead the new era of sparkling fruit wines, celebrating diversity and healthy hedonism along with a few wicked sins. Something that resonates with the Singa culture, as a karaoke stage is not a place for prejudice and it’s about the freedom to express yourself regardless of your background.
Additionally, our aim is to be the leading brand in the new age of karaoke within the music industry, much like Nudist's desire to lead in their own niche within the greater brewery scene.
Led by one of the founders of Nudist, the tasting tour included a few new found favourite drinks for our team. One stood out beyond all the others: “Bomber”, a mix of gooseberry wine, sea buckthorn juice, and juniper berry. It was so good some of the team members went back to get more of it the next day. The team also concluded that a few cases should be ordered to the office.
With most of the team particularly chatty after the testing, the next stop was the Arcade Museum near the local Tech-University. It was located quite far from the city center, but it’s still quite easy to get there with the city's own public transportation. Being a startup the team was still small enough to fit in one bus; using public transport in Tallinn is convenient and cost efficient.
DAY 1 - Nostalgic gaming and singing
The Arcade museum was quite the unique experience. Filled with old arcade games from every era, the music loving spirits enjoyed guitar hero and the sports enthusiast played Fifa, while some of our developers even found it amusing to write some code on an original Commodore 64. Not to mention some very intensive button mashing on the vintage Tekken arcade machine.
The reservation included a room for board games and a space for your own catering. However, the team forgot to bring anything, but luckily in Estonia you can order beer from Wolt.
Carried by the local bus, the team headed out for dinner at Nõmme Jaamarestoran ELSA, an old train station turned into a restaurant and museum. The team had its own cabinet reserved including a piano, which of course was irresistible for the artists within the team. Enjoying a delicious three course dinner, with dessert over candlelight, and the whole team singing along to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” was a heart-warming experience.
To conclude the evening the team headed out for some karaoke. Singa does not have a strong presence in Tallinn yet as there have been bigger markets to conquer, so the venue of choice included a karaoke setup by one of our competitors.
There are 10+ karaoke venues in Tallinn, but the habit of singing karaoke has mostly been associated with Finnish tourism. A few team members performed their go-to songs, but some refrained as simply signing up to the platform proved too complicated of an experience. Not to sound obnoxious, and we still have a lot to work on in terms of providing a seamless karaoke experience, but let’s just say most of Singa's competitors have more in common with the games in the Arcade Museum than they have with the likes of Spotify.
DAY 2 - A slow sauna infused start
Even if the team stayed at a Spa-hotel, it was left for later. Most of the team headed out to Kalma Saun the next morning to brush off the drowsiness from the previous night. Kalma Saun being an authentic wood heated Sauna experience in Tallinn, with an icy pool to balance the heat from the intensive 120 degree's celsius sauna. Those not into sauna enjoyed breakfast at a sunny terrace in Tallin's old-town.
Most of the team, feeling reinvigorated, regrouped for a long lunch at Restaurant Pegasus. However, some team members were still feeling yesterday's late night out and had to skip lunch. We then headed back to the cradle of Tallinn's culinary scene, Telliskivi, for some Gin Tasting at Junimperium’s distillery bar.
Day 2 - Gin tasting by the best in world
Junimperium has taken the Gin scene by storm. They have seven products of which five have been titled the world's best gin. They’ve been included in the Gin hall of fame in just 3,5 years, where the rule has been you need to be at least five years operational to be considered for membership.
During the tasting it was clear for the team, not only based on the taste, why they are the best in the world in what they do. When asked, one of the founders who gave the tour about what makes them great, he explained how they are willing to put in more work than anyone else in each phase of the process. Additionally, gin making for them is an art and that is true for anyone who has mastered their craft.
Any startup could learn alot from the likes of Junimperium in terms of what it takes to be best in your respective market, the dedication, the discipline, the willingness to do it your way, and the ability to understand what it takes to get there. Any founder would dream of being able to put a team together that can produce the best product on the market in 20 days, where for others it can take a decade. The tasting tour was truly an inspiration for the team and many bought a bottle as a souvenir.
Day 2 - Team play and fireworks
For dinner the team headed to O’learys in the Kristiine shopping mall. Singa is featured in 50+ O’learys bars across the Nordics. The team hopes this particular one could serve as one of the flagship venues for Singa in Estonia with its massive in-house movie theatre, perfect not only for hosting game night and watching your favourite team play, but also for hosting karaoke evenings.
The team enjoyed bowling and shuffleboard, as well as shooting some hoops in the indoor basketball court. Not to mention the ease of ordering your drinks to your table via built-in tablets so you didn’t have to get up to get drinks from the bar.
As the venue was closing down, we decided to explore what Saturday night had to offer in Tallinn. The party of choice was Sveta's birthday party with its immaculate drag show spiced with all kinds of live performances and pyrotechnics.
It was the perfect place for a night out for a diverse team and inline with what Singa wants Karaoke to stand for: expressing yourself by singing without prejudice or judgement while being respectful, so that others feel welcomed to be themselves.
Day 3 - Spa and going home
The weekend ended with a relaxing time at the hotel spa and a stroll around the city before taking the boat back home. The boat trip included an all-inclusive buffet that was not short of options and served as a nice cure for the hangover some of the team members were suffering from.
We also did some mandatory shopping at the tax free store to restock the office beer supply. We cleared out all the Põhjala beer cases available, as the team didn’t get a chance to visit the brewery this time around.
All in all the team felt the trip was well needed and served its purpose, but in the future the trips should be organised during weekdays. Since close to half of the office has families and organising babysitting support proved challenging. Thus, some had to cut the weekend short. Nonetheless, the format of organising a Shenanigans every six months as a culinary experience, with some nice R&R, is definitely worth holding on to.
If you want to join the next Shenanigans check our career page: Singa.com/jobs for open opportunities. You can also reach out to one of our team members with a note of why you'd want to join our team and what you could help us with!