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At times like these we need the greatest mentors in the world: Children.

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Born in Transylvania, Andra Matresu is a cross-media video and film producer who has studied in some of the best film academies in the world (La Fémis, NFTS London, Ludwigsburg Filmakademie and HFF Potsdam). She was selected for the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris training programme for budding European film producers and was awarded an Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship at the age of 24. Andra is the founder and creative producer of ‘2030, WHENiGROWUP’ a project that uses audio-visual media to foster children’s personal development and help them get one step closer to achieving their dreams. In this blog post, Andra tells us about her project and how she got to where she is today, and gives some advice to other young entrepreneurs thinking about starting their own businesses.

andra matresu_profile pic_promoting enterprisesOriginally from Sibiu, Romania, I started out on my entrepreneurial journey with nothing more than a camera, a laptop and a dream. My goal is to help children get one step closer to their dreams, using film-making to support them on their road to fulfilment.

As a kid, I was always coming up with new inventions and creating different things: from clothes, movie scenes and poetry to various events and activities. Later on, as a student I used to work for the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that’s where I realised that Romanian politics was more about preaching, and less about truly taking action. It was then that I figured out I could use audio-visual tools, the power of cinema, to educate and help people take action. I chose to use my talents not to chase after trophies and parties in Cannes, but to try to improve people’s quality of life, through cinema.

This is why I created an interactive participatory film-making platform where children can express and create their dreams and visions about their future through the power of cinema. The first of their kind in Luxembourg and, who knows, maybe the rest of the world, I organise and conduct “eduTational” DIY participatory film-making workshops for children, under the name of ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’, which was selected as one of the 10 projects livestreamed at the national stage of the Ideas from Europe Competition 2015, held in Luxembourg. I’ve coined the term “eduTational” because I believe that entertaining, personalised learning and interactive participatory education are values that our future generations will evolve on.

andra matresu_kids 5_promoting enterprisesUsing a camera, paper, toys, household objects, pens, mom’s make-up, dad’s necktie and whatever they can lay their hands on, children learn how to reach their dreams through the art of narrative film-making. Using these materials, they create a small web series in which they offer their creative solutions to everyday adult life… All of this in the hope that, once they are grown-ups, let’s say in 2030, they can refer to these stories and find guidance from their inner child.

Why do I do what I do? Because I strongly believe that we all – parents or not – have a moral responsibility to establish creative foundations for future generations to evolve on. Children, in particular, need support in expressing themselves and becoming the best versions of themselves that they can be. They owe it to themselves to live the life they have dreamed of. Not the life that their parents predicted for them. Not the life that the media tries to sell them. Not the life that society forces them into. But the dream life they once expressed as children. And that’s why ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’ is there to provide long-term support to these kids in creating and pursuing their own journey. The children who participate in ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’ are already playing a vital role in creating their own futures.

The best part of my journey as a founder and producer of ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’, is that I engage in these activities more as a child than as an entrepreneur. I’m the children’s voice. Unfortunately, there are children around the world who have no voice. So how can we expect them to turn into well-rounded adults if they don’t even have healthy creative foundations to express and start their hero’s journey? That’s where ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’ can make a difference and change lives.

2030 WHEN i GROW UP posterI am not enamoured by the idea of entrepreneurship. My purpose is not to be an entrepreneur, but to live my dream through entrepreneurship, while using cinema for educational and personal development purposes. What I like about being an entrepreneur is that I feel the excitement, the adrenaline and the fulfilment every time the stories I produce inspire somebody. As a film producer, I measure the quality of my work by the response of my audience. This is my greatest reward: to use storytelling clips and videos in order to inspire viewers on the Internet and beyond to become the best versions of themselves that they can be.

You get to experience the joy and pride of a great success achieved through hard work and discipline. And you can only work hard if you believe in your business and love what you do. Otherwise, I could not do it. What I like and dislike about being an entrepreneur is that I can work constantly without a break. I let everything in my life slide in order to work on my business all day, every day and, if possible, even late at night. I really enjoy all aspects of ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’ and when I immerse myself in the business, I tend to completely neglect my life outside, because I love what I do. So, if you’re planning to be an entrepreneur you need to have the sense to ease up and balance out your life: love life, money, health, activities, family, friends, and sport. Otherwise you’ll lose control over your life.

My top advice for all young entrepreneurs out there is to fall in love with the process and look at working hard as part of a “luxury lifestyle” instead of as something you have to force yourself to do. Think about why you are doing what you do: is it because of the process or because of the result? Enjoy the process. Don’t fantasise too much about the result, otherwise you might end up on the wrong path.

Learn to accept rejection, to target the right clients and look at your pitfalls and hardships as a privilege and not as a chore. And, if you want to grow, keep your eyes and ears open and never stop learning. If you are truly willing to battle through the hardships and if you enjoy this thrill, then you have the right stuff to be an entrepreneur.

 

Andra Maria MATRESU

Film Producer and Online Video Marketer

www.andramariamatresu.com

Founder and producer of ‘2030, WHEN i GROW UP’

www.2030whenigrowup.org 

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Starting your own business is an amazing journey – Haris Ioannou

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Haris is a 21 year old student in the third year of an Electrical and Software Engineering course at the National Technical University of Athens in Greece. Aged only 17, he won a prize for the best engineering project in the European Union Competition for Young Scientists (EUCYS) and was also one of the five global finalists in his age category in the Google Science Fair 2013. Since starting college he has developed software for Bioassist, a company focusing on applications that help the elderly with health-related issues. In this blog entry, Haris tells us about his work and his plans for the future.

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What are you working on at the moment? How does this fit in with your wider business development plans?

My passion is inventing and combining technologies and approaches in order to solve problems of everyday life. If I see an exciting opportunity to challenge my knowledge, skills and learn something new, the challenge is accepted.

For the past three years, I have participated in the initial stages of development of a research project aiming at assisting the independent living of elderly people. We have founded a company called Bioassist, and developed an application that remotely monitors the vital signs of older people, such as glucose and oxygen levels, blood pressure etc. in their home environment. It can also remind users to take their medication, keep a personalised health record and also lets users communicate with their relatives via video conferencing.

At the same time, over the past couple of months I have co-founded another project aiming at efficient and secure management of online passwords. Our main goal is to resolve this problem by eliminating people’s need to keep track of their passwords for websites. Our solution is a mobile application called Code Pi! We have built a new way for users to access their web accounts using their mobile device as an authentication element. Essentially you connect your phone and computer under the same Wi-Fi and when you try to log in to a website, it automatically fills in your account details for you. It is important to note that maximum security is ensured for all users by securely encrypting and storing all their credentials locally on their phones, and not on our servers.

haris_ioannou_photoHow do you manage to balance work and life? What is a typical day like for you?

My course is considered to be one of the most challenging in my university. My modules include programming languages, control systems, high-power electronics and robotics. When I want to relax I prefer working out, by running or going to the gym, rarely reading a book and occasionally going out with friends. All of these things help me to take a break from my everyday work.

Most days, after class, I have to attend meetings at Bioassist and Code Pi or at some of my other ventures. Combining studies and work is very fascinating, because you are given the chance to apply your theoretical knowledge in practice. For example, I might have learned an algorithm during my morning class and then I have to apply it into one of my projects. However, most times it happens that I have to use an algorithm that I don’t know yet and so I need to research it. Usually I will come across this algorithm 1-2 years later in one of my classes.

What are the pros and cons of running your own business? What challenges do you have to overcome on a day-to-day basis?

So far I am not fully responsible for the day-to-day operations in any of my ventures. However, I am responsible for the majority of the technical details for each of my projects, such as selecting the new technologies that we will be implemented in new features. I like to see each project not only from a technological viewpoint, but also from a business and a research perspective.

The interesting part is when you have to combine already existing approaches and technologies or even invent some new ones to come-up with the desired solution. If the solution satisfies the problem constrains then, most of the time my team and I publish a paper or launch the feature straight into our product. I think there is definitely a distinction between open time-frame research projects and scheduled product launches, but it does not have to be discrete and watertight.

I am trying to follow this workflow for two important reasons. Firstly, as a student, I have seen multiple projects being started and then abandoned after making only a couple of publications in scientific journals. Therefore I don’t want the projects to which I commit my time to end up like this. Secondly, solving a problem following the scientific method and documenting the result has a great value for the academic community and anyone else interested in the specific topic.

How are you preparing for the next stage of your business? What advice would you give to others thinking of starting their own businesses?

Currently being an undergraduate student, I consider myself very lucky to have people who trust me and really take my thoughts and ideas into consideration. Usually, as a student, you’re not involved in the decision making process of a company, due to lack of experience and technical knowledge, especially in the tech sector.

My goal through this project is to learn as much as I can in a small and very innovative corporate environment. Since my colleagues are both older and more experienced than me, I try to be influenced by them day by day. They have already been in my position and they have probably faced many of the problems that I am encountering. I don’t know where are we going to be in the next five years, I don’t even know where are we going to be in the next three, the market is so competitive and is not as straightforward as a business plan. I am very optimistic that we will have the same focus on our products and our customers and, if this turns out to be true, then we are definitely going to be successful.

Starting your own business is an amazing journey, on which you can learn and do important things. Whether this involves managing people in a team, or making a business plan or even deploying a new feature, these are skills that drastically change the way you think and work. You have to be open to listening to ideas from your team, but you should also carve out a specific plan and lead the team to deliver your product. Many examples show that the age at which you start a company is completely irrelevant to how successful it is going to be. Success it is directly related to how determined you and your team are in delivering the promise that you have made to your customers.

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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

A Business Tailored for the YouTube Generation: Tania Habimana

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This month, we’ll be focusing on the new generation of entrepreneurs taking European enterprise into the future and taking the world by storm. Featuring young businesspeople under the age of 30, we’ll be finding out how they do it, why they do it, and what advice they would give to others wishing to follow in their footsteps. And if you’re aged between 16-25 and have a big idea about what Europe can do to encourage youth entrepreneurship, enter our youth essay competition to win a trip to the SME Assembly in Bratislava this November.

Tailored_Business_Tania

Name: Tania Habimana
Age: 27
Country: United Kingdom
Business name: Tailored Business TV
Website: www.tailoredbusinesstv.com
Year started: 2015

What kind of business are you in?

I run a dual business. The first is a television series called Tailored Business. The second is a suit business specialising in the African body-type. Unusual? Let me explain a bit more. The television series is about my journey trying to set up a suit business on the African continent. I visit countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and more making suits for my clients and trying to grow my business. While I’m taking my clients’ measurements, I interview them on how to grow a successful business on the continent. So, in a nutshell, I’m a dual entrepreneur: a media entrepreneur and a fashion entrepreneur.

Why did you decide to start your own business rather than work for someone else?

I was already halfway there when I took the decision. I had been working as an intrapreneur (an employee within a company who promotes innovative product development and marketing) for a Dutch menswear company for three years, with as my main task being to bring the suit label to Africa for the first time and set-up its operations. Whilst doing this, I felt an increasing desire to share my experience with the world and also showcase all the entrepreneurial activities that are happening on the continent. I was truly amazed. The state of entrepreneurial innovation in Africa is far beyond what we would expect from “emerging” markets. It’s a solutions-based innovation; innovation occurs because people need alternative solutions than that which exist, and this makes Africa very exciting, this makes entrepreneurship very exciting. So I took the leap and tried it out for myself completely.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

Pacing myself. When you’re no longer restricted by company guidelines and policies, there’s a temptation to go in multiple directions and try everything.

Tailored_Business_4

Why did you decide to set up in Europe and Africa?

I registered my television production business in London because of its strong media hold globally and because I knew there were many start-up supports in the form of funding and advice available in the UK to young entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, we haven’t qualified for financial support yet, but the assistance has already been beneficial for us. And with the suit business in Africa, we’re still deciding on which country to set it up in.

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

I’d say to start as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you have all the answers. The reality is that you’ll never have all the answers and, on top of that, even if you do, you have to make mistakes – that’s part of entrepreneurship. If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn. If you don’t learn, you don’t improve.

To find out more about Tailored Business, visit www.tailoredbusinesstv.com and watch the TV show .

Overcoming young people’s barriers to entrepreneurship

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Young entrepreneurs, especially those who choose not to enter tertiary education, face real barriers when entering business. Fortunately, there are organisations that can help.

I am your boss

With the limited curriculum that time imposes on most educational systems, those who leave school at 16 and who don’t go on to tertiary education end up entering a world in which they lack business knowledge and experience. They frequently lack saleable skills, and usually have no access to start-up finance. These are very genuine barriers to entering the business world and make this category of young entrepreneur genuinely disadvantaged.

Unfortunately, they seldom attract any attention but they have plenty of potential to be successful business operators, often as self-employed business people or maybe working with a small team. But to become successful they need to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills, find experienced mentors and gain access to finance. In the United Kingdom, the organisation par excellence for helping young (and therefore disadvantaged) entrepreneurs is The Prince’s Trust, set up in 1976 by HRH The Prince of Wales when he left the Royal Navy. Now, some 40 years later and having helped over 825 000 young people in the UK, he recalled that decision saying, “What struck me was that young people weren’t being given the opportunities quickly enough. No one was putting the trust in them that they needed.” In a video on the Trust’s website, he explains his rationale in greater depth. In 2014, The Prince’s Trust International was set up to expand the Trust’s activities overseas.

entrepreneur-696968_1280The Prince is an indefatigable supporter of youth enterprise. “I have always been of the opinion that young people have the skills and energy to make a real difference to our world, and we must do all that we can to harness their talents.” In addition to The Prince’s Trust, he has set up Youth Business International. In each case, the organisation can help young people find and attend the right training courses, obtain the right skills and access the necessary funds.

Similar support can be obtained from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, which is financed through the EU and operates through local contact points in Member States. So, even though youthful entrepreneurs face many disadvantages, this shouldn’t stop them from developing a business.

More information and a lot of useful ideas can be found at the following organisations:

The Prince’s Trust

The Princes Trust International

Youth Business International

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

Supporting entrepreneurs and the self-employed – blog

If you’re aged between 16 – 25 years old, enter our European SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Learn how >>

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