• The stories of some of the best projects from the previous years

    Be prepared for the future: start your own venture!

    Today’s youth is made up of incredibly talented individuals with the potential to use their knowledge and creativity to make the world a better place. Indeed, it is the most knowledgeable generation that has ever lived; moreover, completion of tertiary education keeps increasing. However, the job market is changing and a significant number of these students will never be employees in the traditional sense. The traditional concept of the full-time, permanent job in which a worker is contracted to work for a single employer in return for a guaranteed salary – as experienced by baby-boomers – is long gone.

    When is the perfect time to have your first entrepreneurial experience? The answer, in our opinion, is: during your studies!

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the average person born between 1957 and 1964 held 11.7 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48 and nearly half of these positions were held between 18 and 24. Millennials and, even more so, Generation Z are predicted to change jobs at least twice as many times as their parents did. Furthermore, a PwC report on the future of work indicates that 46% of HR professionals expect at least 20% of their workforce to be made up of contractors or temporary workers by 2022. Finally, the integration of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in most, if not all, economic sectors will lead to further disruption of the current job market.

    In this environment, where employment is less secure and in general less available, with machines performing most of the repetitive tasks, there will be a greater interest in entrepreneurial knowledge as humans’ competitive advantage will lie in creativity, soft-skills and problem-solving skills. Veronica Colondam, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of YCAB Foundation, who is an expert from the Forum’s Young Global Leaders community, declared that the most important skill of tomorrow is an entrepreneurial spirit – and the skills to know how to apply it: “It is not enough to be innovative or collaborative, it is also about knowing when to apply each of them, and how they can be used in a business context.” Indeed, corporations only have interest in recruiting young entrepreneurs as they bring in new perspectives and ideas as, in the end, even large corporations won’t exist in the future without innovation.

    A 2012 study of 11,000 MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business showed that a career in entrepreneurship, more than any other business- related job, correlates with happiness independently of how much money was made. One of the primary reasons for the happier career is the perceived greater control over one’s own destiny.

    So now that you have all decided to start a career in entrepreneurship, the question that remains to be answered is the following: when is the perfect time to have your first entrepreneurial experience? The answer, in our opinion, is: during your studies! Not really a surprise, as we are the organizers, implementers and supporters of the Social Impact Award. Below you will find 5 generally accepted reasons that support our Claim.

    1. A valuable experience to add on your resume: the normal path to employment -study hard, get good grades, graduate and land your first job – is nearly non-existent. Now, more and more employers expect students to have at least one work experience, yet few are offering such first job experiences. A possible solution to these missing opportunities is for students to develop a small business or a side project during their studies. So, by starting your own project you will have gained valuable experience to put on your resume. Moreover, if your business is extremely successful, then you won’t even need to worry about getting a full-time job after graduation.
    2. Low risk: the objective of creating a social venture for a student does not lie in financial profits nor does (s)he have a family to maintain. The reason why the majority of start-ups fail is that most people never try to implement their innovative ideas! But even if students do fail, the experience gained is invaluable and well worth the time invested. Indeed, by becoming an “entrepreneur” student you learn to be accountable for your actions, nurture your creativity and develop your communication, teamwork and sales skills. In addition, the sooner you can test your ideas, the better; perhaps from an unsuccessful idea, a better one will be born and with the knowledge and experience learned, chances of success increase.
    3. An easily accessible customer market: family, friends and teachers are perfect potential clients. It is very likely that people will be interested and encourage the young adult to pursue his/her entrepreneurial project and support him/her along the way. This will also come in handy when doing market research as getting feedback from friends and teachers is relatively easy. In addition, trends spread quickly in a school environment and everyone is aware of them: creating a small business in response to a current trend can be easy and at the same time, meet a real demand. For example, Thomas Suarez, a 12-year-old app developer, created his app Bustin Jieber, a “whack-a-mole” game in which you pummel the Biebs. When asked why he created it, Suarez stated that “a lot of people at school disliked Justin Bieber a little bit, so I decided to make the app.”
    4. Access to knowledge: Successful entrepreneurs love to give advice to young would-be entrepreneurs. They will be happy to find some time and give you their best tips as they will see you as a student trying to learn more about their project(s) than a competitor trying to steal their recipe for success. Furthermore, Universities and other educational institutes offer an increasing number of entrepreneurship courses, incubation programs and funds for student start-ups. In addition, there are plenty of networking opportunities on campus. Conferences on issues or themes addressed by your start-up, companies scouting the best students, guest lecturers are among the best opportunities to make a first lead which might in the end turn into your first client.
    5. Access to company first needs: workspace, internet connection, meeting areas, printing tools, etc. Nearly all your basic needs as an entrepreneur can be met on campus. This will allow you to get your project running more quickly and with fewer initial operational costs. In addition, it will be easy to recruit volunteers or first employees as you have access to a pool of students working in different fields, with some free time on their hands and interested to have a first job experience.

    It is not enough to be innovative or collaborative, it is also about knowing when to apply each of them, and how they can be used in a business context.

    So by now you are ready to start creating your first entrepreneurial venture, right? Then, why not starting a social venture to do good for others at the same time? This social aspect to your start-up could also become part of your unique selling proposition and be used as a way to differentiate your start-up from competitors. If you are still not sure of what a social venture is, then don’t hesitate to take part in one of the 210+ events & workshops organized by the Social Impact Award throughout Europe and beyond during the spring.