DO! Goes USA 2018 - DAY 5 & 6

Things are heating up here at the Global Entrepreneur Challenge in Virginia Tech, because today is the big day! It's going to be a jam-packed day with 14 student teams from all over the world competing to win the grand prize of 30.000$, by pitching their business concepts in front of a 5-headed judging panel and an audience of students, staff members and Virginia Tech alumni, as well as an army of people that'll watch the competition via the live stream link. I'm sure you want to see Tibbe impress the audience too, so you can find the live stream right here. He'll be taking the stage at 17:30h (Belgian time).

As for the past 2 days, many round-table conversations have taken place about collaboration between universities on a global scale. All faculty members got the opportunity to pitch the entrepreneurship services at their respective universities, resulting in rich discussions on our programs' successes and failures.

I'm sure that some of the learnings from these conversations can be applied by you as an entrepreneur in order to foster your own entrepreneurial journey:

  • Get comfortable with the idea that you’re not going to be great at everything you do. If you're trying to be great at everything, you'll end up being just okay at all those things. Use the people and resources around you to fill in the necessary gaps, so you can focus on what you're really strong at. This is where complementary team members comes in handy, as well as complementary partnerships.
  • Experimentation is key, and for that it's crucial to lose your fear of failure. You'll be able to work up a product that may not get your customers' perfect score, but it'll lead to feedback that in turn leads to a product that those customers actually want. On top of that, you'll have a pool of potential customers who are happy to 'have a say' in what you're building, so you're effectively building a pool of heavily engaged ambassadors who automatically become your most loyal customers. 
  • Working without deadlines and targets releases the risk of constantly operating in a playground. You might think that deadlines hinder creativity and produce stress, but there are many tools and resources that help you find a structured approach to setting and meeting deadlines. It's always helpful to divide a task into smaller steps so you notice achievements regularly, which will boost your confidence and increase efficiency.
  • Copying something from one place to another doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to work. Cultural, habitual and geographical differences make up a huge part of what ends up working or not, so don't just try to replicate best practices without analyzing your market.
  • If you're pitching your business, make your slides work for you instead of the other way around.
  • Don't consider all money good money. If you're looking for money, it's smart money you want to be securing. People are easily drawn into situations where they can be taken advantage of. Don't forget that strategic relationships, networks and expertise or very often worth more than the actual money you're trying to raise, so don't rush any investment decision before you realize what's actually on the table.
  • Many student entrepreneurs who work with friends get to a point where a business issue drifts them apart, resulting in a broken friendship. Don't postpone that (difficult) conversation around roles and responsibilities, because it not only makes or breaks your business, but also your friendship.
  • Business is conducted between people, so every partnership you forge is about personal relationships. Don't underestimate the power of personal relationships!

And of course, some quotes to finish up this update:

  • "You don't know what you don't know, so don't get too proud and stay curious"
  • "Have fun with a serious purpose"
  • "If your idea doesn't scare you, it's not big enough"

Inspired? Read our previous learnings here!

Follow our Instagram and Facebook stories and don't forget to watch Tibbe's pitch at 17:30h (Belgian time) here! Wish him the best of luck on his Facebook page!