Laugh, don’t start speaking until you are in the right position, breathe calmly and from your abdomen, speak with a low voice, do not stand too close to the wall, make contact with the audience and very importantly: do not play-act. This is a selection of the presentation tips by actor Niels Lemmens. At the end of January, he gave one of the workshops during a three-day event by the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for students who want to start a business or who already have one.
One by one, the existing or future entrepreneurs stand before the group and give a mini presentation about themselves. The objective is that by the end of the day everyone will have come up with a convincing pitch about his or her business. Together with Lemmens, the students give each other feedback. When necessary the actor provides – what initially looks like – unconventional tips. After a presentation by a very tense student: “Go and get a chair and sit on the edge of the seat; your back must not touch the back of the chair. Keep your back straight and both feet on the ground. Start to talk and concentrate on that part of your body that is touching the chair. Stand up slowly.” This might seem strange but the student is standing more calmly.
“I found the presentation workshop the most fun,” says the German Nikan Karimian-Pour (19), first-year student of International Business. “If you present yourself in a self-confident way, you create trust.” And trust is the most important thing in his field. He is working on an algorithm that can predict share prices. He realises that this is very ambitious. “Millions of people have already tried it,” but he has faith in himself. “The trick is to be more accurate than the competition.” He has been working at it for about eight months now, about twenty hours a week. He is not sure yet whether he will eventually sell the algorithm or start an investment fund himself.
He is sure that he will never work for a boss. “I have known this since I was in nursery school. As an employee, you work for someone else’s dream. Apart from that, I don’t want someone else telling me when and how much I should do. Sometimes there are days that I don’t work and then others that I am super productive for ten hours straight.”
Interest in the investment world grew when I was in secondary school. In 2016, he bought two bitcoins for roughly 350 euro each with some savings that he had, just to experiment. In 2017 he sold them for 700 euro a piece. “I had doubled my investment. I felt so clever, such a good investor. But one year later, bitcoin was worth 12.000 euro. Just imagine if I had been able to predict that in some way or other.”
Ecodot, the business owned by Elisa Vollrath (21, second-year student at SBE) and Pabita Kister (21, second-year student at UCM) is not about earning money, but in the first instance about the environment. “We noticed that a lot of people in our enviroment were looking for a more sustainable lifestyle, but didn’t know how to go about it,” says Kister.
Their enterprise consists of two branches. On the one hand, “there will be an app that makes having a sustainable lifestyle fun”, Kister explains. What to think off? “For separate themes such as ‘waste’ or ‘nutrition’ people can do challenges. We do it this way to encourage people to follow through in their sustainability goals. We deliver packages with products and information to succeed .” Initially they want to focus on their home country Germany.
In addition, they also want to start selling eco-friendly products. Things like toothbrushes made from bamboo, sustainable shopping bags with various pockets, sponges that don’t contain plastic, and beeswax paper. You can order them online and pick them up from three permanent collection points. “Those products will be sourced as locally as possible with as few middlemen as possible,” says Kister. Vollrath: “My aunt, for example, makes the beeswax.”
“Twenty percent of the profits will go to repairing coral all over the world,” says Vollrath. Kister:“I know someone at the SEA centre in Raja Ampat personally, so I know that the money will be spent well.” The domains for the website and social media have already been purchased, but the business doesn’t officially exist yet. Still, two hundred euro has already been donated. “A sign of confidence in our enterprise!”
This confidence is also apparent from the boxes of bamboo toothbrushes that Kister has in her student room. The two want to officially start in September. Kister: “Before we start selling, we want to take the time to build a community. We think that it will work well; we already have a list of interested parties.” They are working hard at building their business: they see each other two to three times a week and put in about ten hours of work a week.
Just how sustainable are the future entrepreneurs themselves? “We are, for example, both vegans,” says Kister, somewhat cautiously. “We are aware of the stigma on the matter, that vegetarianism is something for do-gooders and hippies. Through our business, we also want to work on that appalling reputation. Taking care of the environment is not just for hippies. It should concern everyone, whether you wear a three-piece suit or sandals.”
Interested in Ecodot or do you want to collaborate? Send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org