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…