On 19th November 2020, ESCP Business School hosted its annual Entrepreneurship Festival. The event, which gathers numerous students, professors, alumni and external guests, was previously organised at five of the School’s European campuses as a local initiative. This time around, in a truly entrepreneurial spirit, ESCP adapted to the challenges of the Covid-19 era and offered a new formula, connecting simultaneous events by the whole ESCP community online and allowing anyone in the world to join.
The Festival was organised thanks to co-creative efforts by the School, current Option-E students from the Master in Management programme (ranked 6th worldwide by the Financial Times), the ESCP Blue Factory and the Jean-Baptiste Say Institute.
23 teams of Option E students from the Berlin (6), Madrid (6) and Paris (11) campuses presented and tested their prototypes and received valuable feedback from the community during 53 short sessions. Students were asked to reach out to investors, external guests, potential customers and early adopters to test their ideas, prototypes and MVPs. This would serve to further improve their concepts, which would be presented as final pitches during the Demo Day on 11th December. The main subjects included health and wellbeing, sustainability, gender equality, circular economy, smart cities and organisations, education, food and financial inclusion.
At the London Campus, where the Festival hosts both Summer and Winter editions, the event was organised by Prof. Davide Sola and revolved around the theme of ‘Developing New Opportunities in the New Normal’. During the Winter Edition, there were seven start-up teams – Go Guru, WHOUT, Stop scrolling, DARU Cocktail Cubes, Bike Around, ScanMe, SmartSole – all comprised of international students. The teams commenced by showcasing their ventures at a virtual simulation trade fair, where customers, investors and other guests were able to discuss projects one-to-one and the students could test the first prototypes (MVP) of each business. Later, the teams pitched them to a panel of entrepreneurs and executives.
The Summer Edition of the Entrepreneurship Festival is run exclusively by the London Campus as part of the MBA in International Management, MSc in Marketing & Creativity and MSc in Marketing & Digital Media programmes.
This year, it took place on 26th May and saw more than 600 attendees during the all-virtual event. 76 students from 31 nationalities worked remotely from more than 20 locations across the world. 15 innovative teams showed how entrepreneurial thinking and problem solving could be applied to the “new normal” that will emerge from the pandemic, building customer-centric and sustainable value propositions.
The Alumni Start-Up Award
As part of the Festival, the Alumni Start Up Awards were organised with Blue Factory Start. Dedicated to student and alumni entrepreneurs who are launching projects, the START programme offers workshops, co-development and a workspace each semester to make concrete progress. During the event, the five best start-up companies of this year’s START (nutriHUNT, Quiet, S.W.A.G., Clap and Edu Enhancement) pitched their business ideas to the audience, who later voted on which would win the prize worth €5,000.
After the Awards, the participants were able to meet some of the competing teams for a less formal chat, offer feedback on their pitches, or even become their mentor or investor in their business ideas. The meeting offered more senior alumni an opportunity to reengage with the School, give back to their community and meet with former classmates.
Keynote Speech by Guido Meardi
The Festival’s final act was an inspiring speech by Guido Meardi, CEO and Co-founder of V-Nova, placed 24th in the ‘Tech Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2020’ in the UK by The Telegraph. V-Nova is one of the most promising high-tech start-ups in data compression and Artificial Intelligence in the UK and the world. Guido is a keen innovator, entrepreneur and investor, with relevant business-building experience and half a dozen exits. He masterfully presented the key challenges that an entrepreneur faces, in particular in ventures that require significant upfront investment. He also candidly shared the good, bad and the ugly of moving from a career in consulting (a former Partner at McKinsey & Company) to a career as an entrepreneur.
The Winners of the 9th ESCP Entrepreneurship Festival
Alumni Start-up Award
The London Campus Winter Edition
Overall Winner Prize: STOP SCROLLING
Elias Orphelin, Sahil Rawat and Hugo Fuentes
Panellists Winner: WHOUT
Riccardo Castelli, Lauren Fatalot and Joannes Forun
Virtual Stands Winner: DARU COCKTAIL CUBE
Aditya Menon, Shashank Kumar and Yuzhe Zhao
The ESCP Campus Summer Edition
Overall Winner Prize: HOBBIZ
Loomba Kanika, Mariela Mortola Viteri, Neila Rebrab, Ciara Scannel and Giulio Tucci
MMK PRIZE: KIDSPACE
Isabella Andre Espinoza, Ana Pamela Aridjis Munoz, Chiedozie Onwuzulike, Aasit Thakkar and Leonie Wahl
MDM PRIZE: SOCIALIZE FROM HOME (SFH)
Diane Beeharry, Swayam Doshi, Emma Leucci, Aditya Mirani and Anouk Peynsaert
MBA PRIZE: BARTEZ
Hamza Bennani, Wajih Daou, Shakuntala Malakapalli, Jaya Oswal and Deepak Yadav
Davide Sola, Jean-Baptiste Say Institute Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at ESCP London Campus, shared: “2020 has been a very difficult year for the world as a whole. We believe that the only way out of this hardship is through innovation and entrepreneurship. This is exactly what the students of the Creative Entrepreneurship course showcased at the JB SAY Entrepreneurship Festival. The panel was enthusiastic about the quality and depth of the work by the student teams, and they all agreed that these students have learned valuable skills which will help them in their careers, regardless of whether they become entrepreneurs.”
Martin Kupp, Jean-Baptiste Say Institute Professor for Entrepreneurship and Strategy at ESCP Paris Campus, commented: “The Entrepreneurship Festival 2020 was the biggest and most European festival that we’ve had so far. The COVID-19 crisis forced us to deliver the festival online, but we were able to turn this into an advantage and conducted a truly European entrepreneurship festival. The students tested their projects with potential customers (which the students had invited themselves) in parallel tracks for two hours. Students received valuable feedback from their potential customers, while testing the most critical hypothesis of their business models.”