More than 100 students signed up for this year’s edition hosted on the ECE campus last Friday. Students were tasked with producing an ambitious business plan in only 24 hours as well as pitching their idea for a chance to win 1,500 euros. Ideas ranged from financial technology, fashion, sports to education and sustainability ventures.
Where to start?
Fortunately, the participants were not fully left adrift. Jouri Schoemaker, a start-up enthusiast and entrepreneur himself, prepared all the participants with an inspiring talk about idea creation. “Fall in love with a problem, not a solution. Convince the people around you that you are worth the investment,” were the main taglines that drew the attention of the audience in the main hall.
Students were then advised to attend workshops, such as data collection and operational growth, to help supplement their business plan and boost feasibility. With all the information available, students soon dispersed over the four floors of the ECE campus to discuss ideas and in some cases to meet their team members for the first time.
Over the next 24 hours, the participants prepared to pitch their big idea to a jury comprising entrepreneurs and business leaders from companies like Shell, Accenture and ING – only four teams would make it to the final. With the clock ticking, the participants were rushing to formalise a plan.
Most participants experienced the stress of producing a feasible business plan within the 24 hour margin. IBA students Douwe (20), Sam (21) and Lorenzo (22) were still brainstorming several hours after the event started, for example.
Three hours after the event started, they were discussing the possibility of a new student platform to modernise education. “Many people use YouTube as study material or summaries, but these options aren’t offered by the institution themselves. We want to create a platform that focuses on education so that teachers can post content while students can interact with the content,” Douwe explains hesitantly. “We want to offer this platform to high school students specifically to improve the education.”
Some participants, like IBEB student Atif (23), had already been working on an idea for some months. Atif was taking part in the event as an opportunity to develop, receive feedback and improve his current business plan for his upcoming designer T-shirt venture.
“I want to sell high quality T-shirts made from recycled material. I’ve been working on this idea with a business partner for several months, so this is pretty much 24 hours when I can simply draw my idea on a canvas and present it. I don’t think I’ll have a completely sleepless night because I’m fasting for Ramadan this month and my body couldn’t take it.”
Fully working e-scooter
Three students from HAN University of Applied Science were audacious enough to bring a fully working prototype e-scooter from their business venture: Scoot It. Business students Max (22) and Chingiskhan (22) along with Industrial Design Engineer Hoang (23) were trying to take their idea a step further during the event.
“Our idea aims to offer an E-scooter solution to improve efficiency in businesses by giving employees an easier mode of transportation around warehouses and companies. Ultimately we want to improve Dutch urban transport infrastructure by offering a sustainable and fun alternative,” explains Max enthusiastically.
Weary eyes and scattered cans of energy drinks were in evidence in the main pitching room on Saturday morning where the four elected finalists would pitch their big idea to eight jury members and to all the other event participants. In the end, second year IBA students Tamás (20), Eva (20), Ilya (21), Maxime (20), Arnaud (21) and Sebastian (21) won the pitching competition by proposing the ‘T-Box’ – an idea to revolutionise university campuses with recycled plastic food boxes that would help preserve food for longer and more efficiently.
The team spent all night optimising their idea and preparing their pitch. Once the initial euphoria of winning had ebbed, Sebastian explained that: “the team only came up with a specific idea and plan of action for the pitch at 9 p.m. last night. While Eva, the one pitching our idea to the jury, had a quick two-hour nap, the rest of us didn’t sleep during the whole event. We look back at the experience as very enjoyable one.”
Ilya also pointed out that before the event he didn’t see himself as an entrepreneur. Now that they’ve formed a business plan, he’s definitely interested in pursuing entrepreneurship: “We were really excited when someone approached us during the event and showed an interest in our idea. After discussing our idea with him more in detail, we agreed to meet up with him in the coming week. But whatever the outcome of this meeting, our team is definitely behind our idea and we want to put it into action. The money award can definitely give us an important boost.”