As a finalist at the 2016/2017 Business Start-Up Journey, BSc Business and Management student, Laura Candrian, was given the opportunity to attend the European Innovation Academy (EIA), billed as ‘The world’s largest extreme entrepreneurship programme’. It is an extreme accelerator which takes an idea to tech start-up in just 15 days.
My name is Laura Candrian and I am studying BA (Hons) Business and Management with a Year in Industry. Having taken part and been a finalist in the Business Start-Up Journey (BSUJ) I was offered the chance to attend the EIA to further my skills as an entrepreneur.
The European Innovation Academy is a three-week programme held in three different countries around the world each year and is designed to drive progressive development of a business idea. I attended the one taking place in Cascais near Lisbon in Portugal. Mentors, investors and speakers guided us in the all aspects of the process with experts assigned to teams to help us through the fundamentals of business and support the development of our idea.
The EIA is a well structured programme from start to finish. The first step was the formation of the teams which consisted of five people and were required to include a leader, marketer, software developer, designer (UI/UX) and any other individuals with the skills for the specific idea. To decide teams, we met, networked and did a round of ‘speed dating’ to assess who we were going to trust as part of a team for the next few weeks. Most participants came into the programme with an idea of their own making it a competitive field.
Once the teams were set, we began finding a problem worth solving for our start-up. We needed to tailor an attractive solution meeting core aims as we went through a number of key steps that any entrepreneur-driven start-up business must go through, from product value proposition to design validation, marketing, gaining financial backing and finally business pitching. My experience within the BSUJ – creating and developing my product during the Business Start-Up Journey – came to the fore here.
Our original idea switched from retail to real estate, eventually using smart technology for roommate matching. Called ‘Co-Mates’, it was a platform designed to match young professionals and/or recent graduates together based on personality testing, to then go on and live in a co-living environment. The idea included artificial intelligence to produce the ideal pairing or groups that can live in harmony in more affordable housing. I am proud to say that among a range of very compelling start-up businesses, ‘Co-Mates’ ended as one of the semi-finalists.
“Attending the EIA has provided me with a deeper understanding of the start-up process, a growing interest in entrepreneurship, as well as the stepping stones to potentially start my own business.”
Throughout my time at the EIA, I learned and gained vital knowledge, tools and skills that can be of use in the future. The programme was full of highly intellectual and accomplished mentors and speakers, each an expert in their field, freely giving us their time and knowledge. In three intense weeks of research and learning the team and I managed to accomplish what would have normally taken months.
My journey in the business start-up programme at Kent Business School began with simple curiosity for entrepreneurship. Since then it has given me the opportunity to get a feel for the start-up life, and the chance to attend the European Innovation Academy and join a large community of open and curious people from all over. The EIA has been a truly unforgettable experience.
Laura is studying Business Management with a Year in Industry at Kent Business School.