Young Entrepreneurs

From Student to Startup in 1 Year: How One Summer School Changed Everything

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About me

Hey, my name is Kaarel, and I am from Estonia – one of the most digital countries in the world. I’m a curious mind who wants to understand the problems around us and find creative solutions that bring happiness to others. I just happen to know how to code and study Computer Science. One year ago, I stumbled on Young Entrepreneurs (YE) program by Startup Wise Guys. Without having any expectations for it, it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.

Reason for joining YE

Throughout my high school years, I always found ways to make a meaningful difference. Whether it was reselling video game consoles, starting an e-commerce store during the pandemic or applying for a local incubator with my physics enthusiast classmate.

There was always a need to think out of the box. However, there was something missing, a guide who would point me in the right direction. Someone like Yoda who mentored Luke Skywalker in the iconic “Star Wars” movie. 

When I heard about The Young Entrepreneurs Summer School, I knew I had found it. Immediately, I applied.

3 Things I learned

During the 10-week program, I learned entrepreneurship principles alongside 120 international students. After successfully reaching the finals, I was fortunate to qualify for the Estonia on-site event, featuring workshops, thought-provoking founder meetings, and a fast-paced hackathon. Looking back, I now appreciate the significant growth that resulted from that experience.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Proactivity: Just like a plane needs a pilot to push the right buttons for takeoff, ideas require someone to propel them forward. I learned it firsthand by being the initiator of a parking-app idea. During the week leading up to the hackathon, I pitched our idea during workshops in front of everyone numerous times. Honestly, the idea itself wasn’t that unique. However, speaking about it with confidence, authenticity, and a clear sense of vision, turned out to be a factor. Surprisingly, it was the most liked idea at the start of the hackathon.

2. Teamwork: There are no good ideas, only great teams that bring them to life. The collaborative environment really made me realize that. Effective Communication, understanding your teammates and the ability to delegate tasks is key to being effective. Thinking back, I wish we had recruited additional team members. Although we started with a team of five, one member departed during the hackathon. Thus we ended up multitasking. It’s important to pick teammates who complement your skillset.

3. Familiarity: Meeting founders and listening to their stories during workshops was truly inspiring. Witnessing their dedication to creating solutions for the future was remarkable. What resonated with me the most was realizing how similar these people actually were to me. It’s easy to forget that they, too, are just human beings like the rest of us. This really boosted my confidence.

But above all, I met some incredible friends who are ambitious, open, and share a desire to make a positive impact in the world. A year later, we still keep each other updated about our journeys. The community and network have been one of the best parts of the whole experience.

The Snowball Effect
Young Entrepreneurs gave me the keys to pursue new ideas, collaborate with people and embrace a proactive mindset. Thanks to that, I went on to participate in other hackathons, where I had the fortune to win multiple prizes alongside my teams.
Moreover, I realized how important abroad experience is at a young age. The presence of fellow international students inspired me to begin my own travel journey. As a result, I decided to use Erasmus exchange opportunities. In the upcoming autumn, I will travel to Denmark to study at the University of Copenhagen.

But there’s more…

NetaBird – My First Startup

The best things in life happen by accident. That’s exactly how I met my team, with whom we’re building a startup NetaBird. We all attended a Tech Conference, NFT Tallinn, and since like minds think alike…

An idea turned into a write-up. A conversation turned into a follow-up. And a problem lead to a solution. We’ve identified a gap in the market for contact management systems for professionals who process high-volume of contacts (like business developers), that allow personalized note-taking and easy retrieval of the information later. 

My team is developing an AI-based contact management system, that automates cross-platform connecting, simplifies personalized note-taking, creates reminders about follow-ups, and retrieves contact information by simply recalling memories. We believe our solution can be used at conferences worldwide and help save professionals valuable time. Join our waitlist to be the first to try NetaBird:

We have a long road ahead, but so far it has been an incredible journey with the team. And I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

Words of Courage to YE Graduates.

This week is a Graduation Day for the Young Entrepreneurs 2023 batch. It’s been absolutely inspiring to see so many ambitious young students through the past few months. For me, It’s been a deja vu moment being an ambassador this time. I encourage all the readers for the next year, to take a leap of faith, try something new and take the road less traveled. Now, it’s your time to show what you can do in a year!

Kaarel Kaarelson