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EEPA – The winners of the 2016 edition

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The SME Assembly 2016 may be over, but the conversation continues! Today is an opportunity for us to present to you the European Enterprise Promotion Awards winners from the 2016 edition. You met them here on the blog when they were shortlisted, but here is an overview of the projects that came out on top…


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Category 1- Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, the winner was Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat (Lyon City of Entrepreneurship) from France. This initiative is a network of 46 organisations and 200 experts from across the region, working to promote the entrepreneurial spirit more widely, increase the number of businesses created and improve the robustness of new businesses. Each year, the network provides support to between 10,000 and 12,000 businesses and entrepreneurs, with 17 “access points” providing assistance, information and guidance. Experts provide support on the creation, takeover and handover of businesses and on aspects including how to grow or fund a business, start up and training.

In Category 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, the prize went to Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom. This project has created the world’s first internal, accredited, enterprise educator training programme. The training and support of over 600 staff of all disciplines to embed enterprise skills across the university curriculum has been at the heart of the programme. In the first two years alone 21 000 students were reached and over 2 000 freelance businesses created. Business and public sector projects projects benefited from student support resulting in an economic impact valued at over EUR 4.4 million (GBP £4 million).

In Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment, the category winner was Portuguese project Leader SME programme. This entry annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015!


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Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business, it was Human Security Finland that came away the winner. This entry is a national international development and crisis management business network. It assists with the building of partnerships between Finnish companies and experts aimed at assisting developing countries and crisis-hit regions with solutions to support sustainable development. The network combines business, education and research for human security. 100 organisations are now involved in the concept known as ‘crisis business’, which is based on commercialising human security expertise.


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Category 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency, the Lime Trees & Honey Bees for Sustainable Development of the Danube Microregion project from Serbia took the category prize. It strengthens the competitiveness of beekeeping in the Fruška Gora region and motivates young people to start beekeeping businesses. The project aims to increase the market share of Fruška Gora lime honey by investing in human resources and skills development, improved knowledge through scientific research, education and the introduction of new technologies. In addition, it ran a high-profile promotional campaign to raise public interest and created a marketing plan that changed the ad hoc approach of 8 beekeeper associations to a value-added, branded product, with export potential.  


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Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Dutch project The Rotterdam Business Case (De Rotterdamse Zaak), a work training company where students in higher vocational education and experienced business coaches help support entrepreneurs to improve their business practices and entrepreneurial skills, was the Jury’s winning choice. The project focuses on entrepreneurs who operate below the poverty line and are not financially able to find a solution to their problems. More than 600 entrepreneurs have already been helped through the combined efforts of experienced senior coaches, who act as a sounding board for entrepreneurs, and junior coaches who offer more practical support.


Finally, the Grand Jury Prize, which commends the entry that the Jury considers to be ‘the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe’, was awarded to Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden! Originally a competitor in Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, this project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It covers three projects: Entrepreneurship in education, Start your business, and Develop your business, which provide different styles of support to various groups ranging from schoolchildren, all the way to seasoned business people. 

EEPA – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit

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As promised in our last EEPA update, over the next few weeks we will present the EEPA projects shortlisted in all six project categories. The winners in Category 1 – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit – come from different ends of Europe, with one project from Estonia, one from France and one from Serbia. One of the projects has a focus on women entrepreneurs, another aims to engage young people in business, and the third has a focus that straddles both these objectives.

garage48_02The Estonian project, Garage48 Motivating Women to Start-up Community, aims to transform the male-dominated tech sector into a more female-friendly industry. Since its formation in 2010, the project has increased female participation in its development weekends from 20% to 47%. The main goal of these events is to give participants a chance to complete the process of creating a start-up during one weekend and to match aspiring entrepreneurs with various skillsets. Several successful and well-functioning start-ups have been created as a result. Watch their video.


lyon_ville_de_lentrepreneuriat-02Also with a focus on women, in addition to students and start-ups, the second Category 1 shortlisted project – Lyon City of Entrepreneurship (Lyon Ville d’Entrepreneuriat) – is a network of 46 organisations and 200 experts from across the region, working to promote the entrepreneurial spirit more widely, increase the number of businesses created and improve the robustness of new businesses. Each year, the network provides support to between 10,000 and 12,000 businesses and entrepreneurs, with 17 “access points” providing assistance, information and guidance. Experts provide support on the creation, takeover and handover of businesses and on aspects including how to grow or fund a business, start up and training. Watch their video.


see_ict-01The third and final Category 1 winner, “We know we can”, is a national motivational movement in Serbia that aims to inspire young people to become entrepreneurs and proactively build their careers with the right tools and knowledge. It started with a campaign that showcased more than 200 local entrepreneurs who are globally successful, which reached over 20% of the Serbian population. Following this, a crowdfunding campaign raised US$ 108,000, making it the biggest non-profit campaign in the region. This has enabled the creation of tech and entrepreneurship community centres in five Serbian cities for exchanging knowledge, networking and motivation. Watch their video.

All three of these projects are making a significant contribution to the promotion of entrepreneurship among their target audiences in their respective regions and any one of the three would be a worthy winner in this category, so the EEPA Jury is faced with a difficult task. The winner in each category will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced.

 

Stop hesitating – the time to start your business is now!

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ListMinut is an internet platform that allows its 40,000 users to outsource small tasks and jobs to reliable service providers located nearby. In this interview, co-founder Jonathan Schockaert talks about his experience and the challenges he encounters on a daily basis, and gives advice for young entrepreneurs thinking of starting their own businesses.


Jonathan SchockaertName: 
Jonathan Schockaert
Age: 26
Country: Belgium
Business name: ListMinut
Website: https://www.listminut.be/
Year started: 2013


What should people know about you and what you do?

I was born and raised in a family of entrepreneurs. I’ve always wanted to start my own business and to build something that would have a real positive impact on people’s lives. I started really young – taking part in different entrepreneurial initiatives during my teenage years, ended up studying for a Master’s in Entrepreneurship at university and started developing ListMinut for my thesis.

ListMinut is a marketplace where we allow our users to outsource their small tasks (mowing the lawn, assembling IKEA furniture, taking care of the dogs during the holidays…) to reliable individuals in their neighbourhood.

What are the pros and cons of running your own business?

I wanted to become an entrepreneur to be my own boss and choose my schedule. But in reality, I rarely take important decisions alone. What’s more, I wake up much earlier than when I was at university and also return home later. But I truly love what I do. I’m working with awesome people every day, doing something different all the time and having a real impact on the outcome. I learn something new every single day.

Which challenges do you have to overcome on a day-to-day basis?

Being active in the sharing economy implies a lot of legal troubles. A few hours after our first TV broadcast, I received a call from a Belgian institution asking us to shut down the platform. We had to fight really hard for three years, but now a new law has just been passed in Belgium to support the sharing economy. Belgium is one of the pioneers in Europe and we’re proud to be part of it. We’ve also created an association (the Digital Platform Initiative) together with Take Eat Easy, Menu Next Door, Deliveroo, Uber and Flav’r to go further and reduce the barriers to entrepreneurship in Belgium.

What advice would you give to other young people thinking of starting their own businesses?

Stop thinking, start doing. Ideas are worthless. It’s all about execution. This means that you don’t have to be afraid of other people stealing your idea. To avoid building something that nobody wants, you should talk to people. Talk to people about your idea and make use of the feedback to grow.

What would you have done differently if you had the chance?

Nothing. I’m really happy to be where we are. We’ve made a lot of mistakes, but we’ve learned from all of them and that’s what makes us what we are today.

Perhaps a final message you feel should be broadcast, to encourage peers to take the plunge?

Fasten your seatbelts. Entrepreneurship is not a long quiet river. But it’s definitively worth it, so stop hesitating – the time to start your business is now!

Listminut (1)

To find out more about Listminut, visit www.listminut.be .

Young entrepreneurs in Wales share their top tips for success

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Part of the Business Wales service, the Big Ideas Wales campaign aims to support the next generation of young entrepreneurs in Wales. On the initiative’s website, young Welsh entrepreneurs share their experience and give their top tips for other young entrepreneurs aiming to achieve success in the business world.

Abi Carter – Forensic Resources

My business is Forensic Resources Limited, and my big idea was to set up a forensic science consultancy firm. My top tip for young entrepreneurs would be to have self-confidence and to take whatever your gut tells you as a very, very good warning sign, be it good or bad.

Dan Lewis – PHP Genie

Our big idea was to be the best in web design in the very early days. My top tip for young entrepreneurs would be to be passionate about what you do.

Phillippa Tuttiet – Female Building and Interiors

My big idea was to set up an all-female building company called Female Building and Interiors. My top tip for young entrepreneurs would be to get a job, no matter what the job is, even if it is a paper-round. Go out and get some work experience, find out what it is like to be in the real world.

Geraint Hughes – BWTRI

My big idea was, and still is, to develop a food business in my local area. What is my top tip for young people? Well, I’d say, if you can, try to trial your idea on a small scale initially. You will learn, because something unexpected always comes up.

Gareth Jones – Welsh ICE

My big idea was to bring together passionate and committed entrepreneurs. My top tip for young entrepreneurs is: don’t ask for permission, just get on with it. It is a lot easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission in the first place.

Adam Amor – Buffoon Media

My big idea was to set up a video production company. My top tip for young entrepreneurs in Wales is to do your homework, research your area and competing businesses and make sure your idea is unique.

Sarah Reast – Timberkits

My big idea was to work in a business where I could run a team, because for me that’s where the fun is in running a business – seeing a team coming together, with all their different skills and ideas, and to bring that together in a way that creates something interesting. Top tip for young entrepreneurs is to do something in a different way; do something different in a different way.

Shaun Roberts – Creative Catalysts

My top tip is: just do it! There is never a perfect time to start a business, there is only the present.

Andrew Evans – Artist

My big idea was to become an artist. Top tip – go for it!

Nicola Hemsley – Organised Kaos

My big idea was to turn my hobby into a viable business and to involve the community. My top tip – my first one would be: ‘don’t give up!’ My second and third one would be: ‘don’t give up!’ The fourth is: trust yourself. The fifth would be to listen to your own advice, don’t let other people tell you what to do. The sixth would be to get out there, find your market. Seven – don’t give up! Eight – don’t give up! Nine – it’s going to be really hard sometimes, but still don’t give up. Number ten – reach for the stars, because you will get half-way there.

For more information: https://businesswales.gov.wales/bigideas/video/top-tips-young-entrepreneurs

“I want to wake up with energy, drive and curiosity for what life will bring next.”

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In his final column as May’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance offers his advice for those considering following in his footsteps and stepping out on their own in business.

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Five frogs on a log. One decides to jump in. How many frogs left on the log…..? Five, because there’s a big difference between ‘deciding’ and ‘doing’.

So thinking leads to deciding, but you can’t stop there. You need to act with confidence and determination. How? Firstly, surround yourself with the right people at different times of the business cycle. Our mind plays tricks on us and the little voices of doubt and self criticism can kill our confidence, so we need to have both strategists and cheerleaders around us all the time. Taking calculated risks is important to get us into flow. The easy option won’t help us grow, or prepare us for the inevitable storm. Practice breaking small things before you play with the valuable things. Get experience in a contained space, but do get out of your comfort zone often and consistently. Don’t get amygdala hijack from being too stretched and afraid to act, or you’ll die from paralysis. Don’t overanalyse, yet do your homework well. Remain focussed on your journey, and don’t get sidetracked by your short term goals. Goals are good to take stock of progress. Slalom gracefully around them if they seem to take you off course.

The most important thing, and the biggest source of failure of businesses that solve global problems is this: they remained a dream. Once you have a vision, have designed a plan, and raised the resources to implement it, GO FOR IT! Even if it fails, the worst case scenario is that you’ve gained the opportunity to learn something new.

Pros and cons

Of course, there are pros and cons to starting your own business. The pros of being in control of your destiny are the main reasons to set up your own business. Even as a CEO of a large organisation that I helped create, there was always a sense that I was a cog in a big wheel.

I still felt 100% responsible and I was more than just an employee, but creating something you know will be entirely yours sparks something special in your spirit. It’s also great to not have to ask for permission to put an idea into practice, or feel that you can’t change direction if you so decide one day. Yes, you have responsibilities if you have employees, but it’s different than being a manager.

Running your own business also has its perils. You lose objectivity because it is personal. You may find yourself heading for trouble and keep going because you’re emotionally attached to the goal, or to avoid embarrassment. You don’t want to be proven wrong and, therefore, don’t accept criticism easily. It takes a particular character to be entrepreneurial, but these character traits can also be your downfall. Hard-headed, passionate, ambitious and a risk taker come to mind.

nathan5Starting a business after having led an organisation has helped me stay focussed and not put emotions before logic. I’m more mature and have had a fair amount of mishaps that I’ve learnt great lessons from. Not only is it not too late to start your business at 40, but it’s actually helpful to have experience under your belt. I’ve had a few sideline businesses over the years so I had some startup practice. It’s also important to have good people around you to keep you grounded. It’s easy to become engrossed in the project and lose your relationships with loved ones, and distance yourself from friends and family. Taking stock, or being coached is very important to get a reality check every so often.

To me it’s the mindset that’s the major difference between running a business and working for someone else. You can be equally passionate and driven working for someone else’s business with less personal risk and stress. Running your own business is not for everyone. It shouldn’t be everyone’s ambition. I too need to employ great managers, accountants, experts and associates to make up for all my weaknesses! Thankfully enough people choose to be professionals too.

My hope for Ultimate Performance is to continue to grow my impact by reaching more businesses and business leaders. I want to keep having fun and do exciting things, whilst sharpening my skills. I want to spend time with the people I care about and share experiences with them whenever possible. I want to wake up in the morning with energy, drive and, most of all, curiosity for what life will bring next.

About Nathan

NF-Bust-BWNathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

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2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

Tomi Alakoski, Me & MyCity

This week, Tomi Alakoski from the award-winning Me & MyCity project at the Economic Information Office in Finland reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA three years on….

Name Tomi Alakoski
Organisation Me & MyCity, Economic Information Office
Country Finland
Website www.yrityskyla.fi/en
Award won Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Year 2013

Tomi AlakosiWhat was it like to win the award?

It was a great honour to receive the award. It showed us that we’re doing important work in the field of entrepreneurship. We didn’t expect to win because Me & MyCity was a very new concept; it only started in 2010. On the other hand, we’d received very good feedback from our target groups and we also assumed that our concept was quite unique in Europe. It was the first time that a Finnish learning concept had got this far. Winning the award gave us the confidence that we can succeed in Finland as well as internationally.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

The impact of winning the award was very positive and very broad. We started to get more attention and enquiries from abroad, internationally. It also increased our visibility in Europe.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

At first, people didn’t really believe in our concept and they thought that it was the craziest idea ever! We felt that winning the award was a great reward for the people who had believed in us from the beginning. It gave us the feeling that if we just believe in ourselves, our work might just bear fruit. It gave us a massive boost and helped to make Me & MyCity what it is today. Our utopian idea began to seem possible.

What has been the long-term impact?

The trust in our work has strengthened even more. Two months after winning the EEPA, we attended the “World Innovation Summit for Education” competition in Qatar. We ended up winning the competition in 2014 for “the Best Learning Innovation in the World.” As a result, our cooperation network began expanding. Companies started to be interested in us even more. We also got to participate in official governmental events where Finnish innovations were celebrated. It also made a great difference to our growth. Currently, 70% of Finland’s 6th graders are benefitting from the Me & MyCity learning concept.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

We felt that entrepreneurial education in Finland wasn’t where it should be. We hoped that the value of entrepreneurial education might increase nationally if we entered the competition.

The King and Queen of Finland visiting Me & MyCityThe King and Queen of Sweden visiting Me & MyCity

How did you go about preparing your application and making it award winning?

We wanted to be very honest and open in the preparation phase. We wanted to share our story and tell how influential our operations are. All in all, it was the operation itself that we wanted to highlight. When we started writing the application, it was the first time that we’d analysed how influential our operations are in so many ways. We felt it would be beneficial for our concept to be recognised internationally, that it could help the whole of Europe, which was in danger of increasing youth social exclusion and unemployment. From our perspective, it’s important to develop new enterprises and an entrepreneurial spirit in Europe.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

Don’t apply for the competition only for the competition. Try to genuinely reflect what you’ve achieved and how it benefits your target group.

To find out more about the Me & MyCity project, visit the website  or watch the video.

Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

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2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

JKU Self-Employment

This week, Prof. Dr. Norbert Kailer from the Johannes Kepler University (JKU) Linz, Institute for Entrepreneurship and Organizational Development reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA six years on:

Name Prof. Dr. Norbert Kailer
Organisation JKU – Johannes Kepler University Linz, Institute for Entrepreneurship and Organizational Development
Country Austria
Website www.jku.at//iug
Award won Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
(for the project, “Entrepreneurship in Creative Industries”)
Year 2010

Prof.NorbertKailerFotoWhat was it like to win the award?

It was a surprise for our team and we were very happy that our project, which was started and run without any subsidies, was awarded.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

The first impact was increased interest from the media. Following on from that, we got a lot of cooperation requests from other European institutions who came to know of us through EU publications. This resulted in several international research projects.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

There was an immediate and very positive response from politicians, colleagues and the media.

What has been the long-term impact?

The project is still ongoing with a stable and increasing number of participants each year. We also offer courses and network events where students from business, technical and arts courses develop their ideas together. As a follow-up, in 2012 our home university (JKU Linz), together with the University of Arts Linz and the University of Applied Science Upper Austria, founded the first academic pre-incubator “akostart Upper Austria” supporting interdisciplinary academic founder teams from these universities. Our regional network, as well as our practical courses, have been improved and enlarged so that we’ve been selected as one of 25 good practice case studies in the EU report “Supporting entrepreneurship in higher education institutions.  

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

In 2009, our project was presented as “Premium Case Recommended for Implementation in Other Member States” at the SBA European charter for Small Business Conference in Stockholm. Thereafter, the Ministry for Economy encouraged us to apply for the European Entrepreneurship Award.

How did you go about preparing your application and making it award winning?

We tried to gather detailed data on the impact of the project and looked for testimonials from our alumni, and for letters of recommendation from the local Ministry of Economy.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

Prepare a detailed account of your activities including data on the short and long term impact of your activities. This takes more time than you think! Ask your stakeholders to work with you in the preparation of the application.

To find out more about JKU and their award-winning Entrepreneurship in Creative Industries project, visit the website.

“Everything I do has purpose”

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In this week’s column from this month’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance explains what drives him, and how he relishes the opportunity to train others to make an impact

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All that I do has to have a purpose. It has to add value to the business, society and make a difference to people in general. The minute I find that my impact is not useful, then I stop. Whilst I have business goals, personal goals, family and charity objectives, they all have to fit into my ‘meaning of life.’

Whilst I try and balance my energy across all my responsibilities, at the moment, my business plans are taking precedence because the Academy is still a startup. I have a number of associates but just one employee, so we are agile and lean. Each associate was chosen because of their mindset and independence as well as their skill. They have their own business success but contribute to UP (my business) in ways that add value to our clients. Daphne, my business admin is the coordinator of all our efforts, as well as the events organiser. She makes sure that we deliver on our promises to our clients. All the associates are accountable for their own deliverables, so I don’t have to do any management; I just lead the way.

With the Foundation, there’s a management structure which I lead, but I trust fully to deliver operationally. I spend very little time on the day-to-day work involved in running a business and focus my time on vision and strategy. In this way I can ensure that the objectives of the organisation are met by empowering management through leadership.

We have an international market opening up that will take more of my time, but it’s exciting, so worth the sacrifice of time and effort. I’m also a keynote speaker at a couple of international corporate events and this always leads to new opportunities to explore. People around the world seem keen to learn how we unlock leadership and performance potential at the UP Executive Academy and we love to share our ideas. Running the Academy for Chief Executives franchise has also opened up new possibilities as this too can be globalised.

Ultimately my goal is to train more UP coaches and equip them with a toolkit that allows them to unlock the potential of more people, widening our positive impact and helping organisations to grow or increase their own performance, be it financial or social.

Facing challenges

Staying focussed on the journey is the toughest challenge. Many times opportunities take you sideways and off-track because they may be lucrative in the short term, or make sense at the time. But you need to stay focussed on the long view and sit back at the rudder of your ship, not constantly be up in the crow’s nest looking for opportunity.

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Another difficulty is finding talent that has both the skills and the mental fortitude. We have excellent university graduates that have very little experience or problem-solving skills. Knowledge is lost in business if not applied effectively. It’s my job to create the opportunities for talent to be useful, but it’s not always easy to fit in the dedicated time. I see this time as an investment in a future asset – the mind of the employee or associate, helping them grow in parallel with the business. With so many things on my plate I must learn to trust my associates and employees so they can learn from experience. I can’t afford to micromanage. I don’t want to either.

Other challenges relate to the failures of others that impact my life. Lack of respect, poor planning, bad management and lack of vision by collaborators, suppliers or even customers can drive you crazy. I’m a firm believer in resilience and positive action. If clients don’t keep time, I shorten their session. If partners or suppliers fail to deliver, I move on without them. Whilst it may seem easier said than done, I run my life based on mutual respect. Problems are often created in our head by emotions that are out of control. Staying practical and realistic makes my life easier to manage.

I’m a firm believer in altruism. I give the benefit of the doubt and the chance to redeem. I also point the finger at myself first as I can often be part of the problem. By being open and having regular sensible conversations with the people I deal with, we build mutual trust and, mostly, things get done without hassle. If that trust is dented despite the second chances, then I decide to end the relationship, but this is rare.

To keep up with Nathan, and find out what’s next for him on his entrepreneurial journey, don’t miss the third instalment of his blog here next Wednesday.

About Nathan

NF-Bust-BWNathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

Hi, I’m Nathan, and I’m a serial entrepreneur

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Each month on the Promoting Enterprise blog, an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) will give us an insight into their entrepreneurial journey. This month’s entrepreneur is Nathan Farrugia from Malta. His company, Ultimate Performance, works with CEOs, leaders and business owners who are seeking to take their performance to a higher level in business and in life. Watch his TEDx talk here.

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© Samuel Rondot

At the end of 2014, I quit my CEO role at Inspire, Malta’s leading non-profit education and health provider, and set up my coaching business in January 2015. Since then, it’s been an interesting journey of metamorphosis for me personally, building up something from scratch while delivering services to my clients through my coaching services and the Ultimate Performance, UP Executive Academy.  

I spend about half of my time working one-to-one with Chief Executives and Managing Directors who want to challenge their personal and business limits and reach new heights. Often, this revolves around growing or scaling their business, developing strong leadership or a positive and empowering culture. Sometimes, it’s helping them find the internal strength to carry out an exit plan. Everyone is different, but we are all the same. We are wired to be cautious, cynical and suspicious of our own ability. This holds us back and keeps us from achieving great things. My job is to help unlock this potential by asking the right questions and helping to uncover the answers from within.

I’ve been through this growth process myself, as it took a lot of courage to quit a well-paying job with great work-life balance to venture out solo. I grew that courage with learnt techniques, which I now share with my clients. Learning how to build confidence, take risks and prepare for adversity has made me very resilient. I’ve taken on a number of extreme physical and mental challenges for charitable causes, running, swimming and cycling some of the world’s toughest races to help raise funds for charity. These challenges have also helped me develop my character and ability to feel comfortable in extreme discomfort.

For me, the journey is more important than the goal. My journey is one of self discovery and personal growth, as much as it’s about growing a business from a financial perspective.

My mind is currently focussed on developing a scalable model for my coaching business and taking it international. The challenge is always staying true to what you believe in, and being persistent to stay on the right path. Often, opportunities can take you in the wrong direction if all you are chasing is a goal. For me, the journey is more important than the goal. My journey is one of self discovery and personal growth, as much as it’s about growing a business from a financial perspective.

Chairing and running the Academy for Chief Executives franchise in Malta is helping our country’s leaders to develop themselves through peer-to-peer learning and sharing best practice. This is a great space for leadership inspiration and we want to increase our membership.

I also want to spend time in the various foundations I run, including Empower Coop and the Lino Spiteri Foundation, which are creating jobs for disabled persons. Our model is making a difference and we want to spread the word to encourage other countries to follow suit. The recent TEDx talk in The Hague generated some interest, alongside our I AM ABLE media campaign.

In addition to all this, I’m also chairman of the the Paralympic Movement in Malta and we’re gearing up for the Rio 2016 Olympics this summer. We’re a small team but it’s a great feeling to carry our national flag. I chair the Malta Voluntary Sector, which supports the 1000+ NGOs in Malta, and we’re very busy providing training programmes, funding and mentoring to the extremely active sector. Malta has a rich volunteering scene and we’re responsible for its upkeep.

Finally, we’ve just organised Xterra Malta, an annual international triathlon race, which I co-founded, that sees 200 people from 20 countries race in our beautiful Majjistral Nature Reserve. It’s a mecca for mountain bikers and sports enthusiasts and I’m very proud of our national heritage.

So I’m pretty busy at the moment, but I manage to balance this well with my wife and two young daughters, and I also make time for my own personal learning, my sport and my social life.

To keep up with Nathan, and find out what’s next for him on his entrepreneurial journey, don’t miss the second instalment of his blog here next Wednesday.

About NathanDee-I

Nathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

WeFitter: Rewarding Users for Living Healthy

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wefitter-founders

 

WeFitter is a Spanish fitness and well-being platform that allows companies to encourage and reward active lifestyles. Individual users can also accumulate points for their activities and either exchange them for prizes or donate them to charitable causes. The team behind the application’s development wants to motivate end users to be more consistent with their physical activity and transform it into a lifelong habit. Carlos Rodes, a co-founder of WeFitter, claims that according to some studies, 96% of people would change their health behaviour if they were rewarded.

 

Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle

The WeFitter mobile application has been built with this statistic in mind, and it aims to deliver the means by which people can acquire healthier habits while feeling good about it. WeFitter provides health and fitness data to companies who purchase the technology to build an engaged and active database and analyse users’ behaviour with regard to their active lifestyle.

Individual users can connect their favourite activity and sporting apps to WeFitter, which tracks the users’ effort and then exchanges it for points that can be redeemed for rewards in the form of gifts or discounts from partners. Another option is to exercise for the greater good and donate the acquired points to charity.

According to Carlos Rodes, WeFitter motivates employees to have an active and healthy lifestyle, which increases productivity and engagement. The application can be used in the following three main ways:

  • To help facilitate teambuilding through an exclusive rewards-based platform and challenges that companies can incorporate into their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) plans.
  • To create loyalty programs for fitness centres to increase member retention by recognising their commitment to stay active.
  • To encourage consumers’ physical health, thus improving brand perception and increasing purchase intent. Based on WeFitter research, rewards are 14 times more effective at increasing purchase intent than traditional online ads.

wefitter-app1wefitter-app3wefitter-app4

 

Building the Company

The WeFitter team considers its participation in the Technogym wellness acceleration program very helpful. The accelerator environment facilitated faster project growth, especially through its mentoring programme and by creating opportunities for working with investors.

However, WeFitter finds serious shortcomings in the way Spain treats start-up enterprises. In the words of Carlos Rodes: “In Spain, I think the conditions are terrible since it is very clear that it is a country that pursues steady jobs. It took us almost 2 months to start a company due to the bureaucracy in Spain. I understand other countries in the EU are far ahead in terms of entrepreneurship, but that is not the case for Spain and Italy, where we are still struggling to find the right balance between jobs and entrepreneurs. Besides, the mentality is ‘conservative’, which makes us weak relative to the US market where they grow faster thanks to large investments. We always say: ‘If Facebook was Spanish, it would never have succeeded’.”

That said, WeFitter has been able, to a degree, to benefit from funding provided for the development of new businesses. In addition to the accelerator investment from Technogym, the company was also successful in raising an investment from the Spanish branch of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security).

This was one of the factors enabling WeFitter to collaborate not only with companies such as Sanitas (Bupa), PhoneHouse, Sanofi, or DuetSports but also with the Health Department of the Catalan government.

 

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