Charles does look like a business man already. Wearing a shirt and a jacket – convincing and legitimate. Just like a real future entrepreneur. But talking to himself about a beer belly invasion, gesturing wildly with his hands, he does appear a bit odd. But there is a reason for this strange scenery of Charles talking to a wall. Only one hour from then he will have to present the team´s business model concept in public. How will they react? How will the jury judge their idea?

It seemed to work well.
Team GEAR UP is this year´s winning team of the Global Entrepreneurship Summer School! Will their virtual online game replace our CV one day? If team GEAR UP will actually implement their billion dollar business plan on the market, certificates and references will be a back number soon.

“In India five million people graduate from university each year”, explains Franziska. What sounds promising in the first place, often doesn´t go on that well. 66 percent of all graduates in India can´t find a job, despite their degree. Why is that? Coming from the academic every day life of a university student, the graduates are lacking practical experience and social skills to actually gain ground in the Indian labour market.

The entrepreneur team of GEAR UP has a solution for that!
“With our online game you can train yourself to be the perfect employee”, says Franziska. With scenarios like the beer belly invasion GEAR UP gamers can assert themselves on the job market easily by clicking through the challenges. (So much for the beer belly invasion Charles was talking about so passionately with his phantom listeners…)

As soon as a gamer has reached a certain competence level, GEAR UP enables them to work on real challenges that have been put out to tender by companies. For instance, the beer belly invasion level could be the expansion of a brewery to Asia for which there has to be carried out a market analysis before.

Instead of working on a perfect illusion called CV, graduates will have to face real challenges and as a matter of fact – they actually have to solve them. If they manage to do so, the companies and applicants can me matched directly via the GEAR UP platform. So both sides are benefiting in the end, says Franziska. The companies are paying for a database of undiscovered talents instead of falling out for someone who seemed to fit perfectly to the company when in reality not performing as their application has promised. Opposite to the companies, GEAR UP gamers don´t have to pay. They can continuously improve their skills and get feedback on how they perform. “GEAR UP offers a 360°- analysis of applicants“, explains Franziska.

The winning team managed to convince the jury made up of experienced founders, social ventures and experts in the topic of youth unemployment that GEAR UP is worth the prize. The Goethe-Institut invited the team to a conference in Weimar.

Will they continue working on their idea in the future? „Right now I am just looking forward to my bed”, says Franziska at the finals. In the last ten days she hasn´t slept for longer than 5 hours. “But we want to stick to the project”, she says. At least they already have a IT specialist amongst them: Charles from Myanmar studies Mathematics and Computer Science at Yale University.
“The team showed patience and empathy”, says Edward Taylor, team coach of GEAR UP. “That´s what many other teams out there are missing.” “I have always reminded them to focus on their big goal: sustainability and a positive change for our society.”

A minimum of sleep and a lot of passion and emotions instead. That´s exactly what the other six teams experienced, whose ideas where nothing less than innovative:
HiRef – a special trainee programme that matches young refugees with companies suffering skills shortage. Impact Travellers – an online platform for authentic travelling creating jobs by offering tours and accommodation in rural regions in India. Hub-Box – a mobile incubator with which youths in Ghana can gain entrepreneurial skills. #textEric – an SMS channel serving as a job platform for young people from Ghana. WEVU – a platform matching volunteers depending on their individual skills after natural disasters in India. And last but not least: Nisa Lab – a place for young women in the Middle East and North Africa that encourages women to step into the labour market.

„If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together”. With this African saying Eskinder Mamo, keynote at the finals, summarised the spirit of GESS in one sentence.
Together, the 35 participants of this year managed to develop ideas that could change the world. And the participants´ journey doesn´t end in Munich. Two former participants showed that it can be worth following the ideas developed at GESS: they have implemented last year´s project ideas “Binee” and “SmartLink” and showed that GESS can be only the beginning of it all…

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Who is Eric?!

How. Are. We. Going. To. Impact. A. Billion. People?
Laura speaks slowly. Pausing after every word. Savouring every single one of them. Christoph´s pitch training was obviously successful. Standing in front of the jury for the first time, Laura seems absolutely convinced that her team´s idea is going to change a billion peoples´ lives.
How do they want to do that?
“We are going to solve youth unemployment in Africa with one sms at a time”, explains Phuong from Vietnam.
Texting to change the world?!
How is that supposed to work?

This is where Eric comes into play. Eric lives in Ghana. Like many of his friends, Eric is currently unemployed. “But Eric feels he can be a hero”, says Sebastian, perfectionist at story telling.
Just like 94 percent of his friends, Eric would love to be an entrepreneur.
But what is separating unemployed Eric from being a superhero, is a minor gap:
Eric doesn´t know how to be an entrepreneur.
And this is where #textEric comes into play. #textEric is taking advantage of the fact that sms texting is the way most people in Ghana communicate and exchange information.
Eighty percent of the time a Ghanese uses his phone, he uses it for texting.
“So how can we take this sms to generate social impact?” is Sebastian´s question to the judges.
They have no idea. But clearly, the team who invented #textEric is about to let them know.

“I really like your idea”, says Andy Goldstein after the pitch, “but I don´t quite get it. It´s not crystal clear yet.”
Laura can see his point. “We´ve been working on the idea for days now”, she says. The team seems to be too involved right now to get across their main idea.
Simplicity. Concreteness. Not just story telling.

After all teams got their first feedback from the judges, it was time for a break.
The SAP Sponsor dinner was just what our participants needed to get a free mind, at least for a few hours. But then back to work.
At 1 am David sends the last message to their virtual participant Eric who is in Ghana right now.
Eric is doing customer discovery work directly in Accra.
The team already has results from 102 people who completed the survey.
So far it´s looking good:
95% would recommend #textEric to friends!

But what exactly is #textEric?
And again: how is texting going to change the world?

Find out at our finals TODAY!
Register on:
Get to know

Pitching starts at 6.30 pm
After that:
enjoy our catering & the poster gallery walk!


Anyone better than Barack Obama?

“I have a dream that one day …”
Everyone knows this speech.
Martin Luther King knew what he was doing.
So does Barack Obama. “Yes we can” is stuck in our heads, no matter what.
“Try to use a human in every sentence” recommends Christoph Burkhardt in his professional pitch training this morning.
Obama does it. So does King.
Managing Director Christoph is an award-winning speaker himself. This guy definitely knows what he is talking about. Every sentence is well chosen. His body language goes in line with what he says.
“Feel comfortable being yourself”, says Christoph. “If you are not 100 % sure you are funny, don´t try. Don´t be an actor.”
In the following three hours our participants realize: pitching is not as easy as it seems.
But if they haven´t before, they are certainly going to need this skill today. In the afternoon the teams are going to give their first presentation to the judges.
Are they going to buy their ideas?
“Make the audience imagine your idea”, says Christoph, “create a picture in their head.”
Not imagining something if we are asked to, is almost impossible.
Psychologists even observed that phenomenon in laboratories. Asking people not to think of a white polar bear will certainly make them do nothing else than that.
Even John Lennon realized that more than forty years from now:
“Imagine” is said to be the third best song that ever existed.
During the pitch training this morning, the GESS participants prove that they are not bad at story telling.
“Imagine George”, “Imagine Eric” – story telling works.
After practicing until lunch time our participants should at least know the theory behind it all.
It´s about simplicity. Unexpectedness. Concreteness. Credibility. Emotions.
What else? Yes, right: Imagining.
Will they be able to put all this into practice?
We will see how our participants are going to tackle this challenge only one hour from now …
Find out and stay updated!


A spider´s web for refugees

The rate of refugees arriving in Germany has not been as high since the Second World War. The numbers are increasing day by day, while Munich has the highest inward flow of all cities. The big majority of them are young adults between the age of sixteen and thirty five. Those are exactly the target group team “Löwenbräu” is aiming for. “We want to solve the issue of youth unemployment in Germany before it manifests”, says Hussam, whose home country Sudan currently has drastically higher rates of youth unemployment than Germany. But the rates of unemployment in Germany are on the rise. Preventing Germany from having a big problem in society is what team “Löwenbräu” is working on. After having been to the Octoberfest (who would have guessed?!) and exploring the Bavarian culture all teams are back on track. If you are able to party, you should be able to work. “Everybody is curios what is coming out of all this”, says Wolfgang Stark, “you are the best of the best of all applicants.”
The pressure is growing. Only 2 days left until the final event.
Wolfgang is one of yesterday´s experts the team could book appointments with to get input for improving their ideas. Wolfgang works as a researcher on the field of social impact at the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship. Researchers never stop asking questions. Neither does Wolfgang. And there are more than enough questions he expects to get an answer to by team “Löwenbräu.”
“How is your idea going to change the refugees´ lives? How is it going to change the companies´ lives? How is it going to change your life?”
Wolfgang is always keeping the social impact of the teams´ ideas in mind. First comes social impact then profit maximization. Rule number one when talking about Social Entrepreneurship.
But what is team “Löwenbräu”´s idea?
Rosi draws a rough sketch on the board. Looks like a spider´s web. But how is that supposed to help young refugees coming to Munich?
“We are working on a networking platform”, explains Nidhal from Algeria. Connecting the refugees with employees in Munich and volunteers who are mentoring the refugees is what team “Löwenbräu” is aiming for. “I would want to transfer our idea to refugees in Algeria as well”, says Nidhal. “More refugees mean more human resources”, says Hussan, “they are not just a burden”.IMG_1229Team “Fischer Vroni” at their expert session with Wolfgang

Change the world! Change your idea?

YouTube as a video dating platform? And flickr as a gaming website?!
What sounds like someone simply has no idea of the online world, is actually less absurd than it seems today. If the entrepreneurs would have followed their initial ideas, we would in fact be arranging dates on YouTube instead of tinder.
“The idea often completely changes”, says Jens Bosse Parra from the LMU Entrepreneurship Center who gave today´s input lecture about Customer Discovery together with Julia Klinger. Nothing else is happening at GESS.
“The winning teams in the last years never sticked to the ideas they originally had”, says Jens.
Is the same going to happen to team “Marstall”? Their idea so far: providing girls in rural areas of India with sewing machines and teaching programmes. Plus having a monthly collection of what the young women have produced and selling it in other countries.
At least that was the plan. “We might be changing now”, says Shantanu from Australia after the team has spoken to Jens and Julia who offered to give direct input to the ideas after their lecture. “It´s the first version of our idea”, Shantanu says, “at least that was what we thought we are going to do this morning”. They all laugh.
“Most startups fail in the first few months”, says Jens. Obviously team “Marstall” wants to avoid that. So they used the chance to talk to Jens and Julia, who have more than enough questions to ask. What about the logistics? How is the transportation going to work? Who is your target group?
“Only if enough customers want your product, you will reach a product-market fit“, says Jens. And that´s what it´s all about. People actually using your product. Jens and Julia have supported about 120 startups building up in the last few years. They saw people failing and succeeding.
“If you figure out that things don´t work out, you have to change the idea”, says Jens. Just like YouTube and flickr.
“You´re going to have a big problem on the cost side”, says Julia, “think about being sustainable as a business.” Otherwise the whole thing won´t work out.
Team Marstall seems open for input. “We´re going to change and change and change again”, says Shantanu without seeming to be too frustrated. The team is already thinking about new ways to get to the perfect solution. “We have to work really hard today”, says Shantanu.
“I feel like more discussion can help”, says Stephanie.
Jalal is counting on their virtual participant Paras from India to take them a step further.

Maybe this afternoon´s session will help team “Marstall” to improve?
Jens and Julia held their presentation looking traditionally Bavarian. Is that a hint?
Stay updated with GESS and find out what today´s surprise session is going to be!

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Impact maximization before profit maximization

Nidhal talks about a “very important treat” after hearing Oliver Beckmann´s lecture on Business Modeling Tools this morning. Oliver Beckmann, Co-head of GESS, provided the participants with a few principles a Social Entrepreneur should follow.
“Impact maximization before profit maximization” – Oliver kept repeating this sentence stressing the importance of what being a Social Entrepreneur means. Although his lecture did catch our participants – which can´t go without saying on a Saturday morning, 9 am – Oliver said he would hope not having to talk about Social Entrepreneurship anymore one day.
“Entrepreneurship should be social”, he said. And again: First comes social impact and then profit maximization.
This is exactly what Nidhal and her team colleagues are working on right now. “We are trying to find out how we can make profit out of our idea”, says Nidhal, while being secretive about the idea itself. “I definitely consider to pursue our idea in my home country Algeria”, she says. With this sentence she reveals at least one aspect of their business concept: it is focusing on Algeria, which has the highest rate of youth unemployment compared to the countries her team partners come from.
“I haven´t indulged myself in business modeling yet”, says Nidhal, “I have never had the experience with this kind of expertise before”.
Nidhal has been working on a few projects at university in the USA, where she has been studying Computer Science for a year now. “Me and my friends are constantly working on creating projects and initiatives”, says Nidhal, “at GESS I want to learn how to combine making profit out of those social impact ideas.” Oliver would be happy to hear that.
Back home Nidhal is working on women related projects. “I am a feminist”, she says. “We are trying to encourage women to dive into the world of STEM, which is a word for the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The percentage of women working in technology companies is about 3 %”, explains Nidhal.
But back to the secret idea team “Löwenbräu” is working on. “Right now we are collecting data and studies to back up our solutions we came up with yesterday”. So far they have a plan. And Nidhal is already thinking further to the time after GESS. “We put a lot of effort into the project. I don´t want to waste that”.
Two people that are already a few steps ahead of Nidhal and her team held an afternoon input session at the Creative Hall today. Philip and Ulrike from “JOBLINGE” and “ROCK YOUR LIFE!” have already solved the balancing act of profit and social impact at the same time. Fitting this year´s GESS topic of youth unemployment, they both support young people trying to gain ground in the employment market. Although they have different concepts and goals, they are contributing their part in fighting the problem of youth unemployment.
A level that Nidhal and her team mates still have ahead of them. But that is exactly what GESS is for. “We want to encourage our participants to start something”, says Oliver, “even though there is not always a straight way.”
Team “Löwenbräu” seems to be on track. But what is their idea to solve youth unemployment? And what are the other teams going to come up with?

Find out and JOIN OUR FINALS on 24th September!
Register on:


Project work has started!

Team “Weinzelt” is going for pink post its trying to find solutions for youth unemployment in the world.
“Make the school too expensive”, “Watch TV all day” – at the first glance all those ideas do not exactly seem to be the best way to tackle this issue in the future. “Have really bad teachers” – probably not the best idea either.
But what looks a bit odd from the outside – sticking post its on other people´s back – is quite a good way to get to the core problem of an issue.
“We are trying to imagine how you can manage to have as little people having primary education as possible”, explains Franziska from Germany describing their process work. “We are doing reverse brainstorming”, she explains, “with this technique we are trying to identify the main reasons why people don´t get educated.”
Their primary thesis: 200 million youths today have no primary education. Instead of dropping out of school to work and earn money, youths need basic education, because it will have a massive impact on their future employment prospects. Instead of working on a solution for this problem straight away, the team is actually trying to increase the scenario.
“Out of this we are going to generate a new idea”, explains Franziska.
Seems to work quite well.
“Make the school too expensive” turns to “Corporate Social Responsibility programs to sponsor education”.
“Watch TV all day” turns to “all TV programs should be educational in some sense”. In one hour and 15 minutes the group managed to get from no ideas to at least 60 ideas all together. By voting the best ideas and building up subcategories the team is further structuring their brainstorming ideas.
“Through this process we can see which ideas we want to work on in the future”, explains Franziska. Well, we will see what that is going to be…
“We are finding it kind of tough to redefine the problem right now”, says Jodhi from Indonesia, who is part of team “Schottenhammel”. But they already have a joker in mind. The team is trying to call their virtual participant Praful from India via skype. Maybe he will take the team one step further…

What are the teams working on? Where do they stand?
Read our blog and stay updated to be informed how the project work continues!

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Regain your creative confidence!

As a child we used to think we are able to do anything.
We did not care if people thought we are especially talented at singing. In our mind we were dreaming of being on stage one day. For the moment, our biggest concert was on Christmas Eve, but hey – you always have to be able to grow beyond yourself. At least our fans – our own family – were clapping enthusiasticly,
so it can´t be that bad…
But for most people, there was one moment in life where they realised: I am not going to be Madonna. Neither Van Gogh or Brad Pitt. Devastated by the fact that we might not be earning millions by being a prima ballerina or a singer, we stopped believing in our creative potential and started thinking. Realising that the adult world is characterized by thinking made us bring this ability to perfection– in school, in college, in university.

“I deeply believe in the creative power of human kind. And – I believe in you”, said Dora Panayotova, coach and trainer at the Technical University of Munich, who was holding a workshop for our GESS participants yesterday.
Brain, neurons, synapses – the world is not just about that.
“This workshop is all about Design Doing. Not Design Thinking”, said Dora and started off with one of those clapping games we loved as a child and for some reason stopped doing one day. Even though they were way more fun than sitting at the dinner table, pretending to be all smart and responsible.
Obviously our participants were a bit out of practice. But that´s exactly what the workshop is about, said Dora. Not about being perfect and doing things right.
Instead, the afternoon mission was to find an ideal job for your partner. By interviewing them the participants were supposed to find the future job that fits their partner best.
“What is your superpower?” asked Briam his partner Stephanie.
“I can speak fast” was the answer. “And I am good at learning languages. Actually I like talking to people in general.”
Second question: “What makes this GESS experience to special for you?”
Stephanie: “We have so many people from so many different countries in this room. I´ve never been in a group that´s so diverse.”
Briam from Colombia studies Industrial Design – will he be able to design the ideal job for Stephanie just by talking to her for a few minutes?
“You have to go deeper now”, recommends Dora. “Use a technique children have perfected.”
So there is only one word left now – over and over again: “Why?”
Gradually Briam is getting there.
“I like thinking about different perspectives to one topic.
People from other countries might be socialized differently. I want to get to know them better”, says Stephanie.
“I want to learn from them.”
“The more diverse people come together, the more interesting it gets.”
Stephanie studies Communication Science and technology management in Germany. Is that going to be any help for Briam?
“I am scared of routines”, says Stephanie. Another hint.
“Build a prototype of your solution” was the last challenge our participants were facing in their 3 hour design thinking journey. So what did Briam come up with?
If Stephanie would be following Briams future plans, soon she would be speaking even more languages than she can do already.
“You are going to be a digital mailbox, travelling around the world.” Quite an attractive future Stephanie has ahead of her, but how is she going to earn money?
“You get invitations from all over the world, offering you opportunities to work. For example, you could be travelling to South America teaching someone how to speak German. And they will let you stay in their house. You´re gaining experience, so you can be a translator to all those cultures and languages one day.”
So what does Stephanie think about her new job as a digital mailbox?
“We can work on it, I guess”, Stephanie laughs. Seems like an opportunity.
Briam has also already prepared a rhyme slogan for her new website:
“Stephanie – the ears of the society!”

If you imagine any job in the world, what would your ideal job be?
Share it with the community – either comment here or post it on facebook! #GESS2015

To get more impressions what´s happening at GESS:

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Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Everyone likes to know what´s going to happen. To know what´s next.
What oneself is supposed to do.
“We don´t know where it´s going to go”, says Prof. Dr. Klaus Sailer, executive director of the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE).
“But we can´t say no.”
In his lecture about Social Innovation and Social Impact the participants were hearing this morning, Klaus gave everyone a bit of theoretical input as a basis for working on their project ideas in the following days.
Social Innovations evolve out of challenges. Out of a major crisis in the world.
“In this case you have to overcome the challenge. Overcome the crisis”, says Klaus.
Searching for challenges in this world is not the issue.
“Problems are everywhere”, says Klaus, “you don´t have to find them”.
Talking about the SCE Alumni Start-up Freeletics and other projects the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship fostered and accompanied in the past, Klaus made clear to the participants that they will need to think outside the box.
“We don´t want you to start with a goal in mind. The guys from Freeletics had no idea what they wanted to do.”
What is really important in the process of innovating is that you are capable of adjusting fast. “You have to be open. Adapt to the circumstances”, said Klaus.
During the GESS our 35 international participants will definitely get to the end of their comfort zone. Even cross the line. No matter if this is because of collective team failure in one moment or internal disputes in the other.
In working on making this world a better place they will leave their comfort zone.
And start life.

Theoretical input from Klaus Sailer

Can you give Bill Clinton a call?

“Who of you would call Bill Clinton and tell him about your idea of solving youth unemployment in the world?”, asks Andy Goldstein, executive director of the LMU Entrepreneurship Center, during the lecture he gave for our GESS participants.
No hands, no calls.
Finally, one participant decides he´d call Bill Clinton.
Now you guys out there are probably thinking:
“How on earth is he going to do that?”
Fair enough. Here is the solution:
Do you know the theory of the Six degrees of separation?
If not…  Well, you should – at least if you want to chat with Bill Clinton.
According to this theory, it is possible to reach anyone in the world within 6 calls.
“Does anyone have Bill Clinton´s phone number?”, asks Andy.
Again– no hands, no calls.
But after a moment of thought, there is at least one person hesitating: “I could call someone, who has Bill Clinton´s number”, says Mariana from Mexico.
“So that means everyone in this room could reach Bill Clinton within just 2 calls!”, finishes Andy, proving this theory perfectly in just 3 minutes of his talk.
At the Global Entrepreneurship Summer School the teams should not think about not being able to do things, says Andy.
“Think about how you can make it work!”
The problem of youth unemployment is big. It´s global. It affects everyone in this world.  “It is definitely a breakdown”, says Andy. “But now you have to ask yourself: what´s the breakthrough in this topic?
We don´t have the answer. That´s why we brought you here.
Every breakdown is the opportunity for a breakthrough!”
So the next 8 days our participants are going to work hard on finding their breakthrough. On making things work.
Many people think that to start your own company you need loads of things.
People say you need a good idea.
People say you need money.
People say you need other people.
You have none of those things?
“No is only no for now”, says Andy. “The really important thing is what you think you need. That is the only thing that counts. You have to stand up for what you believe in. If you don´t believe, you will not make anyone else believe.”

What do you think that you really need to start your own company?
Comment on this blog post or share your thoughts with everyone on facebook: #GESS2015!

Andy Goldstein at his lecture in the Creative Hall