Have you ever felt behind in life? Have you ever felt like you would like to build something but you don’t know where to start from and it gets later and later and it feels almost impossible that something ever happens? After all, you haven’t started building the next world changing machine in your parent’s garage at 15 years old. Well, I certainly have felt this way many times but last year I became more confident in my ability to go for my ambitions and take more action.
My name is Irina, I am almost 22 years old and I am from Bulgaria.
I joined the Young Entrepreneurs (YE) program last year and it was an absolute highlight of my summer. Now, I want to help Startup Wise Guys show more young people what an impact they can have on the world, so hear me out.
And it all started when…
At the end of May last year I learned about this opportunity from one of the mentors in YE. I just looked at the title in the website, the location of the onsite part – Estonia, that it was organized by Startup Wise Guys and I was sold.
I knew that I could meet like-minded people in such an environment. I found individuals who share similar values, goals and ambitions as me. I was also able to visit Estonia which is becoming the leading startup hub in Europe and experience the entrepreneurial spirit there myself. To summarize this spirit: 18 – 19 year old youngsters are starting their own companies. Mindblowing! I also knew that this week will pass either way so I might as well make the best out of it. Time flies by so quickly and this was an opportunity to really put mine in something valuable both short-term and in the long-term.
48 hours like no other!
One of the most memorable parts of this experience was the hackathon at the end of the onsite week in Tallinn. Even though it was only two days it was a true emotional rollercoaster! On the first day we gathered our team and pitched our idea. Then the second day it was all about communication. How do I feel? How do I communicate this to my teammates? How can I be more open to them so we can help each other? The intensity of the hackathon taught me a lot about my strengths, weaknesses and limits. It gave me an idea about my character, how I deal under stress and how I react to challenges. We handled some of them with our own little dancing party! That’s always an option!
Even though Young Entrepreneurs is about building startups, establishing one at the end is not an expectation. I haven’t been able to establish one myself yet. However, I have been a lot more entrepreneurial ever since. After YE 2022 I started believing in myself and my ideas a lot more which made me go after them more consistently and more frequently. They are not necessarily for startup projects but the main driver behind each one has been to create value, to work on my strengths and to expand my knowledge. Or in other words, keep PERFORMing!
I would recommend reading the book from the picture even before starting the program. Why? Because the online part is based on the framework discussed there and you will have a better understanding of the context when going through the course.
If I had to summarize what I learned, that would be the following things.
Number one, it’s not important to know everything and to be good at everything. It’s also not possible. Surrounding myself with people who are good at the things I am not and whom I can learn from is a better strategy. There, I met peers who have more knowledge in business, finance, marketing, technology and legal than me. At first that was intimidating and I started questioning my own potential for contribution. But up to this day I am learning from them and I am forever thankful for this.
Second, understand how you can create value and when you know, go for it regardless of whether it’s expected or not. You will be trained to be an entrepreneur, so don’t take everything which is said or done as the best way to make the most out of your participation. Questioning what I want to learn, helped me to get a good perspective on how I wanted to spend my time. Was it the most important thing to present an idea at the end or was it to get to know the other participants and create long-term relationships? Or maybe both?
Screw it, let’s do it!
If you find some of these key learnings and my experience interesting, then you will probably find a lot of value in joining this adventure. If you don’t find my take on Young Entrepreneurs interesting, then joining, experiencing it yourself and ending up with your own takeaways also works!
Feel free to reach out to me on my LinkedIn profile with any questions about the program. I will be happy to answer and talk to you! For real, I am not saying it by default. 🙂