From attendee to organiser

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Applying for an intensive program like Cambridge Venture Camp will require some courage and commitment, but you can be ensured – it will be worthwhile! If you’re still trying to make up your mind about whether to apply, continue reading. Have a look at this brief story written by our last year’s attendee Mariia, who now works as one of the organisers of Cambridge Venture Camp. 

“It all started with a coffee break. One average winter day, as I was on my way to the cafeteria for a much needed cup of coffee in the middle of an intense study day, my attention was caught by a poster hanging on the cafeteria doors. The advertisement asked me whether I was into a once in a lifetime experience at the University of Cambridge. “Yes, ad, yes I am”, I answered (not out loud, don’t worry). “The workshops are going to take place at the University of Cambridge? The Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton Cambridge? The alma mater of Lord Byron, Alan Turing and Stephen Fry, that Cambridge? Say no more, I’m signing up!”

The application process couldn’t have been more straightforward – in order to apply for the Cambridge Venture Camp, all you need to do is to fill out an online form where you say a few words about yourself and briefly explain what your business idea is all about. Thankfully, by that time, I had been working on my idea for quite a while, albeit mostly in my head, so all I had to do was sit down and verbalise it in a structured and organised way. After the online application I was invited for the interview, where I and other applicants were asked to present our ideas in further detail. I will be frank though – although I did believe in both myself and my idea, I was very doubtful about the outcome of my application, especially after the interview. I was convinced that my idea was too raw and that others were much more qualified and deserving of being accepted. However, much to my surprise and joy, several weeks later I received an email, stating that I was one of the 17 people who had been chosen to participate in the program.

Some time later it was finally time for the most interesting part. The first week of the program takes place in Helsinki, but before you all roll your eyes and say “Boooring!”, let me say that this week is just as fun and exciting as the one that you get to spend in the UK. Our Helsinki week was full of really inspiring and empowering lectures and workshops: we were learning how to raise funding and build a Minimum viable product (MVP) and how to do a good pitch – all the crucial steps if you want to see your idea come to life. We got to familiarise with the Helsinki startup environment, visit the incredible Microsoft Flux and meet a bunch of entrepreneurs who shared their inspiring stories with us. Several weeks later, we continued our exciting journey to Cambridge.

After an exciting flight from Helsinki to Cambridge, we settled in the beautiful Downing College which was to be our home for the week. And what an amazing week that was! We attended lectures taught by professors of the Cambridge University, talked business with local entrepreneurs and continued honing our pitching skills and working on our ideas. We also dined at the famous Christ’s College, went punting along the city canals and even had drinks at the pub, where the Nobel Prize recipients-to-be Francis Crick and James Watson announced that they had “discovered the secret of life” after they had come up with their proposal for the structure of DNA. The week flew by and we all left with our heads buzzing with ideas and inspiration, and great memories too.

After another few weeks, we gathered for the Demo Day – a festive occasion with final presentations where the participants could showcase all their newly acquired skills, supplemented by great food and conversation. A perfect ending of a perfect Venture Camp.

I can’t stress enough the importance of the Cambridge Venture Camp experience for my personal and professional development. What I thought would be just an interesting and beneficial way to spend several weeks of my life, turned out to be the highlight of my year in so many ways. The Camp doesn’t just provide you with important skills and know-how in the field of business and entrepreneurship, but it also gives you a great deal of inspiration and confidence, and makes you a part of a welcoming and supportive community. If I had a chance to relive this experience all over again, I would go for it with absolutely no hesitation.

I believe that Cambridge Venture Camp truly is an amazing opportunity for the students of Laurea, Haaga-Helia and Metropolia UAS’. I believe it so much, that almost a year after my camp experience I decided to become a volunteer and join the organisational team. I want to share my experience with other students and tell them how important it is to participate in such projects, how much they can give you and how much you are missing out on if you don’t take advantage of such opportunities.

In conclusion, let me leave you with this advice, or rather, a call to action – go and sign up! If you’re scared that your idea is not good enough, don’t be – I was in your shoes last year and by now we all know that all of my doubts were unsubstantiated. It’s worth a try, I promise you. You’ve got nothing to lose, but a great deal to gain.”

During the intensive accelerator program you will improve your entrepreneurial skills and accelerate your business idea through workshops and mentoring from experienced industry experts and inspiring keynote speakers. This could be the major turning point of your professional career, not to mention your personal development. The application is open until Sunday, but don’t leave it to the last minute. Apply today!

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