Venturelab Weekend: Kickstarting entrepreneurship in 52 hours

Last weekend, the University of Groningen Centre of Entrepreneurship hosted a 3-day event, where aspiring entrepreneurs could find out if their startup ideas were viable. Eight different teams were in it to win it, working hard throughout the weekend, coming up with a sound business model around their ideas and perfecting their pitches.

The VentureLab Weekend united students and coaches from a variety of backgrounds. The weekend event was open for anyone with or without any previous business or entrepreneurship background, and from variety of faculties, interests and professions.

All about building a business

The VentureLab Weekend is all about building - building your competences and skills, your future dream-team, and, of course, your business. During the weekend, students worked on turning their idea into a working business concept. Supported by 7 different workshops, and an international group of coaches and experts from different industries, they started on Friday with building a coalition around their idea, joining a team to work on something important for them.

On Saturday and Sunday, the participants attended lectures and workshops, performed market research and practiced in pitching their ideas. On Sunday evening, the different teams ended up with a final pitch for a panel of expert entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and potential investors.

The art of pitching

The teams practiced their pitch during the whole weekend. However, the final pitches on Sunday evening are usually not the strongest, according Professor Aard Groen, the facilitator and head of the jury: “Because that’s when the nerves really start to kick in. So the last practice pitch on Sunday morning is usually the best.”

Co-facilitator and presenter Neil Sheridan gives the teams one last piece of advice. “You only have 5 minutes to answer the questions from the judges after your pitch, so keep it short and sweet.” To get rid some of the pre-pitch nerves and startle some of the folks visiting, a final, low pitched and collective primal grunt officially kicks off the pitches.

And the winners are…

Four of the eight teams ended up in the top three. The third place is shared by teams ‘Strain on Demand’ and ‘SG Papertronics’. The first came up with a specially and specifically engineered strains of bacteria, which can produce different kinds of medicine in a faster, cheaper and more sustainable way than conventional medicine production, by using a computer model to test the efficacy of the strains. Their business model: patenting and licensing the bacterial strains, and selling them to pharmaceutical companies. ‘SG Papertronics’ came up with a cheap way to test and monitor consistency and quality of liquids, geared towards the craft beer industry.

The second place went to the ‘Improve Health’ team, who want to build a toilet that can measure urine levels and volume. Initially, this would be to see if someone is dehydrated, which is a common cause of hospitalization of elderly. Other applications would be early detection of diabetes or high blood pressure. The team wants to sell their toilets to homes for the elderly and insurance companies.

A close call for the judges, but the first place, by a close margin, went to IV Wear, a portable IVs, also known as a drip, for hospital patients. Allowing patients to move around the hospital far more freely and be able to walk around more, will help them get out of the hospital sooner. This of course saves on a lot of hospitalization costs, because one patient will cost the hospital around €700 per day. The team will also have a working prototype within two weeks.

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