We were looking back at the six previous physical editions of Ideation Camp last month before the launch of the first online event of the series. Let’s see if the Ideation Camp 7 met the expectations of its organisers, participants and mentors.
Photo: Promising newcomers at the University of Luxembourg / Credits © Olivier Minaire / Silicon Luxembourg
This intense 4-day workshop started with an Opening Ceremony on February 16th. Through this, participants had an opportunity to pitch their startup ideas and vote for the best ones. Then, the ideas with the highest score formed teams of 4-5 participants around them and the actual workshop began. During the next few days, 50 participants – students, alumni and staff members of the University of Luxembourg – were working on their value proposition in teams, constantly supported by their three dedicated mentors – “Guardian Angels”: public speaking expert and founder of Verbalius Pedro Castilho, business development expert and founder of Spoticle Brice Dondelinger, and startup bootcamp expert and serial entrepreneur Shai Haim.
“From everything that is organised in Luxembourg, this event is appropriate for testing the existence of entrepreneurial spirit within the young generation, especially the students of the University of Luxembourg,” – says Pedro who mentored at every edition of the Ideation Camp. “It also gives the students a taste of what starting their own company feels like”.
At the end of each day, mentoring sessions were set to monitor the team’s progress with the “League of Mentors” formed by the 53 industry leaders and experts in various domains from Luxembourg and beyond.
On Saturday 20th of February 10 top teams pitched their startup ideas again, this time in front of the executive jury which comprised of LBAN Board Director Elias Chbeir, University of Luxembourg Vice-Rector for Academic affairs Catherine Leglu, LHoFT CEO Nasir Zubairi, Deputy Director of the Paperjam Club Ana Wiscour-Conter, and FNR Programme / Innovation Manager Sakthivel M. Sundharam.
The winning team of Ideation Camp 7 selected by the jury is Homemade Eats, an online platform that connects cooks with foodies. The team was formed around the idea of Maroun Altekly, Master’s student in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Inspired by his mother’s homemade food and the opportunities related to selling it to foodies, Maroun decided to participate in the Ideation Camp so he can build a business model around this idea. “I learned so much through working under pressure during this event and thanks to the fantastic mentorship provided by Guardian Angels and the League of Mentors,”- says Maroun.
“This success is a result of the coordinated work of my team: founder of Happy Local and Bachelor in Information Technology Sam Abdi, Doctoral researcher Amirhossein Adavoudi Jolfaei, Interdisciplinary Space Master Mariusz Ludwikowski, and Bachelor student in Business/Managerial economics Marius Smintina”. The winner is awarded a free fellowship by the Founder Institute Luxembourg and the University of Luxembourg Incubator. Homemade Eats already expressed its desire to bring their business idea to life with a help of the Venture Mentoring Service of the University of Luxembourg Incubator.
“Transposing our flagship event into a virtual version whilst keeping the same level of engagement and outcome for our participants seemed almost impossible,” says Manager of Entrepreneurship Programme, Siva Bactavatchalou. “If someone told me how successful this first online edition of Ideation Camp would be, I would have never believed them! It was fascinating to see how participants use our communication platform to communicate, learn and brainstorm – all in one virtual place over three full days (and nights for some of our participants).
The same goes for our many amazing mentors who did not hesitate to join us in this adventure and support our brilliant students. Remote and online working is taking a new and stronger dimension due to the pandemic and I am glad to see that the next generation of leaders graduating from the University of Luxembourg is ready for this new standard. I was also revealed to see that there was no video lagging throughout the Ideation Camp, even during the ten sessions of mentoring which were run in parallel with over 100 participants, so I would like to thank the University IT department who provided us a full non-stop support over this Ideation Camp”.
Following the success of Ideation Camp 7, the next edition will take place from 27th of April till 1st of May 2021. Ideation Camp 8 also promises to be full of exciting events and innovative ideas as a group of students from the Miami University joins the University of Luxembourg students for this edition to bring an international perspective and global outreach to the event.
“At the beginning when it was announced that this edition will be fully online, I was not convinced with the technical feasibility of bringing this kind of event to virtual space,” – returns Pedro. “Now I have to say that out of all the events that were held online – and I have participated in quite a lot – this one was the most well-done. From technical and organisational points of view everything went much better than I expected. I would still prefer the physical format but for me Ideation Camp 7 was an example of how well the event can be organised in remote mode. In fact, this format allowed for more focus from the participants on their actual projects as all the distractions were removed, organisers provided a very clear guideline, and Guardian Angels could be more involved throughout the event. As a result, the quality of the final pitches was even higher than usual I think. However, social interaction was of course limited due to the virtual format so I look forward to when we can have a physical Ideation Camp again. I enjoy coming back to the Ideation Camp because I like to work with young smart people who want to create something and are going to shape the next 10, 20 or even 30 years. I enjoy the fact that they challenge a lot of the advice which you give to them so you need to be able to justify it and you start reflecting on things in a way which you wouldn’t otherwise. Some of the participants want to experience for the first time what it means to start a business and it gives the whole event the exceptional energy which I felt again, even in the virtual Ideation Camp”.