The University of Luxembourg Incubator celebrated its 5th Ideation Camp, which again saw many students go from knowing nobody to pitching a new idea as a team in front of a jury in only 72 hours. It has been my privilege to be invited to participate as a mentor for the third time to motivate, to challenge and to guide the teams throughout the competition and with this post I would like to share a few thoughts.

Nobody is born an entrepreneur.

There is one question that I hear at least twice every time from students, but more strangely also from other visitors and it is this one: “Why do you do it?”.

Since, I offer my time free of charge, it is clearly not for the money.

I then usually say: “Because it is FUN!”. And it is, even if there is very little sleep involved the night before the jury presentations, when the most ambitious and committed teams are still trying to nail down their presentations.

But the truth is, that I stay up with the teams, because I have been fortunate enough in my life to meet some wonderful and some less wonderful people that have helped me on my path to become an entrepreneur.

You may grow up in a family business, be particularly curious or have an appetite for risk, but there are so many skills to master that you are just not an entrepreneur from day one. You grow into it, fail, learn and hopefully succeed. Nobody is born an entrepreneur.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” - Origin unclear

Most students have never competed in a business competition before. This is not about a presentation in front of other students, getting grades and having a second chance on the next assignment.

They have one shot, a 5-minute shot, to sell their idea to a jury made up of seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and high profile representatives from the National Research Fund and the University of Luxembourg.

We know that it is tough for the participants. It is tough to apply, commit to the competition, find team members, come up with an idea, validate it, keep the team together, deal with feedback good and bad and put together a structured presentation in only 72 hours with very little sleep in between.

The good news is that the entire team from the University Incubator is there to help the students to navigate through the challenge. Actually there are very few places like a University where so many people are committed to help others succeed. A University does not teach you in one subject matter in particular. A University, first and foremost, teaches you to use your brain and how to think about things. At University everything is geared towards preparing students for what comes after. What exactly that after will be, is up to every student to decide.

So, I cannot stress students enough to contribute as much as they can to the University ecosystem and take part in events like the Ideation Camp. Also because it is probably one of the only places where “free” does not come with a catch.

And the same goes for the people one meets and the friends one makes. Usually the older we get, the less new friends we make. There are many reasons for this, but this is off topic. Students should actively seek out lots of connections, anyone should. It is always good to know someone, who knows someone, somewhere. It is about increasing the leverage of one’s network for professional and private matters, be it for a good time, advice, help, a favor or to make a needed introduction, now or later in life.

Nobody can predict what the future holds, but there will always be people around as long as the planet is habitable. Make sure to make lasting bonds.

This brings me back to my appreciation for the Ideation Camp organized by the tremendously committed team of the University Incubator. Some people say, that everybody can be replaced, I am not sure if this is always true. The Incubator team shows extraordinary dedication to providing an unforgettable experience to students.

The participants learn how to structure an idea and pitch a business; these are important skills on the path to become an entrepreneur. In addition, students learn to be creative to solve a problem, to work in and as a team of strangers, to listen to feedback and to decide what they want to do with the feedback to realize their very own vision of their idea. But most importantly, they meet like-minded people and come together in an open, creative environment that fosters entrepreneurship.

The Ideation Camp and initiatives like it around the globe allow entrepreneurs to give something back, and together they make an investment in the youth of our nations, so that the students, armed with creativity and people skills, can become who they want and accomplish great things.

“If you want to change the world in the 21st century, don’t go into politics - become an entrepreneur.” -

Post photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash