StartUP Challenge’s Jason Selvarajan SCI-PRENEURSHIP: 24 Hour Student Contest in Barcelona Spain Experience

We finally got round to posting StartUP Challenge 2012 student Jason Selvarajan’s account of his all expense paid trip to compete in the SCI-PRENEURSHIP: 24 Hour Student Contest in Barcelona Spain. Jason’s text below.

Introduction

Jason's team
Jason 2nd from left to right & his team who came 2nd

I was lucky enough to participate in the SCI-PRENEURSHIP: 24 Hour Student Contest in Barcelona Spain on the 22nd to the 23rd of October 2012. The all expenses paid event was a joint INTEL ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) & JA-YE (Junior Achievement and Young Enterprise) Europe Alumni initiative. We had almost 40 students from 18 countries.  I was the only one representing Finland. I participated in the JAYE Start-Up course with John Greene and Daryl Chapman which started in late 2011. My company wasn’t quite ready by the end of the course but I learned to see business in a new way. I’m still working on my product for my Bachelor thesis, which I’d like to imagine helped me get picked for this awesome event. The other JA-YE students were impressive, many of whom already ran companies and the INTEL ISEF guys were equally impressive as I think all of them had won in national science competitions around Europe – a best and the brightest kinda crowd. The flights, accommodations in a 5-start hotel and delicious food was all paid for.

The Competition

Pitch 1
Teams preparing their pitchThe event it self was really cool and felt a bit like a simulation of real business, science and engineering collaboration that was super-condensed into 24 hours. The challenge, which was only announced after a few ice-breaking exercise, was to come up with a marketable product or service to make the cities we live in smarter. Our group of four students included specialities in biology, chemistry, business/psychology and my own skills in environmental engineering. It was pretty tough considering that we had only just met and we were only given an hour to consider our options and interests before we were bombarded by technical (including a researcher in the field of superconductivity) and business specialists from INTEL and JA-YE partners who basically smashed ideas that we had maybe spent five minutes discussing. I suppose they were mainly trying to help frame our pitches to the judges. It was pretty interesting to note how quickly our team morale dropped over the course of only a few hours. We started realizing that we weren’t having fun and that in all truth we won’t solve the energy crisis or huge social or environmental issues that day so we decided to have fun and do something that was both fun and simple.

The Four Minute Pitch

Mister Caterpillar
A slide from our presentation. Katerina (SWE) and Julia (AUS) were both fiction and non-fiction writers so they came up with this nice poem to introduce our idea. It is great! Peter (SLV) and I worked on graphics.

We ended up with a product that is called Mr. Caterpillar which is powered by children playing with the toys on his back earth worms (in his belly) to make compost for mini-gardens that would be constructed by local schools. Our business model would generate social and environmental value as well as income from sponsors that want to be associated with our product. Pitches were limited to four minutes and really really last minute we switched our presenters and I had to really quickly learn my part of the pitch. Hectically I somehow got through it. We were asked to pitch again with the three finalist teams and I didn’t realize that I wasn’t pitching to the judges but interested parties from the INTEL conference on Smart Cities which was being held downstairs (they came into the room while we had a break) – people like Martin Curly the vice president and senior engineer of INTEL . I felt awkward faking my enthusiasm and stumbled around but people said it was funny and more spontaneous that the first presentation. We won 2nd place and the only comments the judges had was that ‘every school should have one of these’ and that we had great team spirit. Awesome.

Feelings

Princessa Sofia
Princesa Sofia Gran Hotel *****.

I really loved the trip though I wish it would have been longer. It was Barcelona after all! I made new friends around the world and met really interesting people. I also got to pitch my own product to the other students a lot which helped me on my pitching. The whole event showed me what I can accomplish and it encourages me to stick with my entrepreneurial endeavors.

Links

JA-YE Europe Sci-preneurship Student Contest

http://tinyurl.com/cv4nen2

Facebook Photo gallery link

http://tinyurl.com/ct8ccme

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

http://tinyurl.com/c46lq53

Jason Selvarajan

jason.selvarajan[at]metropolia.fi

Environmental Engineering

Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

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