Recent testimonies of successful business networking - Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme
Period of exchange: 09/2019 until 02/2020
Duration of exchange: 6 months
Host entrepreneur, Victoria Gosling's story begins, as many do, with failure. She had failed to sell a noveI she had written to a publisher. It would take her six years to write another. She was sick of her job. She wanted to do something she loved. With no experience of entrepreneurship and a loan of €1500 from her parents, she set up a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed - and The Reader Berlin saw the light.
What started life as a single creative writing workshop in the cellar of second hand bookshop in Kreuzberg has grown exponentially. Since setting up seven years ago, herself and a team of more than 20 tutors have worked with nearly 2000 aspiring writers, led workshops across Europe, held a writers’ festival in a ruined fort on the Polish border, established annual writing retreats in Greece, taught corporate storytelling workshops for international businesses and NGOs, published anthologies of their writers’ work, held events and workshops with high-profile, award-winning authors, run a competition that tipped two of the winners for the UK’s Booker Prize, and presented The Reader Berlin to the Duke and Duchess of Kent at the invitation of The British Council. Her writers come from all over the world. She offers them community, encouragement, support and networking and actively build bridges to the publishing industry.
"How much of this would have been possible without my participation as host entrepreneur in the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme is hard to measure. I was an ERASMUS student twenty years ago, spending an unforgettable year at the University of Amsterdam. So, when I heard there was also an entrepreneurship programme, I couldn’t wait to find out more. In the past five years, I have hosted ten young entrepreneurs and will continue to host more. What I can say is the support, skill-exchange and teamwork I have shared with the young entrepreneurs has been a vital component to The Reader Berlin’s success" said Victoria.
For Victoria, each new entrepreneur is unique and each relationship has brought something new to her. Entrepreneurs have taught her crucial skills – from Gijs Van Koningsveld, the first hosted young entrepreneur, she learnt how to create and market e-books. From Emily Roach Osborne, she got in-depth knowledge in PR strategies whereas Daniel Ayres shared his talent for creating viral content.
Rachel Margetts helped her build up The Reader’s events and Thomas Moore, the visionary designer, artist and film-maker shared his unique skill-set – and even when she sell off her bike and broke her collarbone, he stepped up and supported her to keep her business going during those first difficult, painful weeks. She has abilities now that she did not have before, not to mention friends and networks across Europe.
As well as benefiting from the new entrepreneurs' experience, she shared her own, and as part of the process of mentoring them, she became a better teacher and businesswoman, developing insights into exciting but risky task of establishing new entrepreneurial ventures.
"A hugely satisfying part of hosting a new entrepreneur is the time spent developing their business plans – anticipating obstacles, developing strategies, and advising pathways" said Victoria.
Four of the ten new entrepreneurs she hosted have created their own business since their participation in the programme. Anne-Marijn started a Dutch-language consultancy, Klare Taal. Tom now teaches art and visual understanding, via Ink & Brinks, a startup that replicated The Reader’s business model. Carly has founded a magazine, BLYNKT. And Gijs founder the November Editions, a publishing house that translates German Expressionist texts into English, is part of a pan-European collaboration that will bring an adaption of Karl Krauss’s play "The Last Days of Mankind" to the stage of the Leith Theatre.
Other new entrepreneurs chose to re-enter education, and – inevitably – a couple decided that the risks and stresses of entrepreneurship were not for them. This is fair enough. Far better to realise the weaknesses of a business plan, the unreality of the vision, or the difficulties of going it alone, before investing own life savings.
"The issue with success, however, is that people want to copy it. No one wants to copy failure. When I set up The Reader Berlin, there was nothing like it. Now my adopted city is full of writing workshops, and you can attend events and readings every night of the week. To stay relevant, we have to keep evolving, keep trying new things, and finding new inspiration. Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs brings me into partnership with people passionate to make their dreams a reality, and there is nothing more inspiring that that."
For more information, please contact the local contact points involved in the exchange:
New entrepreneur's contact point:
Hospodá?ská komora Jihlava (Jihlava)
Host entrepreneur's contact point:
inter.research Institut für interdisziplinäre Forschung e.V. (Fulda)
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