Grove City College Entrepreneurship majors put their skills to the test this summer in Europe working with teams made up of students from around the globe.
Lindy Bowser ’19, Ariella Carter ’18, Jordan Hörst ’18, Benjamin Tobias ’19 and Madeline Williams ‘18 attended the European Innovation Academy (EIA) in July at Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy, along with Yvonne English, professor of Entrepreneurship and Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation at Grove City College. It was the first time the College has sent students to EIA.
Tobias and Bowser were on one of the winning teams at the three-week long international workshop, which took the aspiring entrepreneurs through all of the milestones of creating a startup, from conception to market. Team "Cardio Guard," including the pair from Grove City College, was one of 10 winners that emerged from a pool of 100 teams from 70 nations and dozens of universities and companies at EIA.
Tobias “rocked the final presentation” in front of a crowd of more than 650 people that included Silicon Valley venture capitalists, according to English.
A smaller challenge and a 100 € dinner gift certificate was won by Carter’s team “Travlr” during “Customer Validation Day.” As a way of validating their revenue model and customer base, Travlr took to the streets of Milan talking to locals and tourists from all around the world.
Working with students from other schools and cultures and accomplished mentors was eye-opening to the Grove City College students.
“Going into the program I expected myself to be at the bottom of the ladder as far as skills and expertise of the students there. I found the opposite to be the case, and this really surprised me. I realized very quickly how well Grove City College prepared me for this program, and how in-line my classes at school are with real world stuff, which was awesome,” Carter said.
“The European Innovation Academy is a once-in-a-lifetime international learning experience,” Tobias said. “The opportunity to pitch to actual investors from Silicon Valley and the possibility to actually receive funding is something that people will spend the majority of their career trying to achieve.”
He credited the College’s Entrepreneurship program for preparing students for the competition. “There is a reason that every Grove City College student made the top 40 teams this year,” he said.
Bowser said the program validated her calling to be an entrepreneur, and demonstrated that the College’s approach to entrepreneurship is unique – and needed – in the sometimes brutal world of business.
“We are different. We are different in how to pose ourselves in front of our peers, we are different in how we speak to mentors, we are different in how we view right and wrong … It has never been more obvious that the world is ready for kingdom‑minded entrepreneurship. We are so called to use our talents to spread the love of Jesus, even if that means showing another participant that respect is more productive than shooting someone's idea down,” she said.
“I didn’t know what to expect for my first trip abroad with GCC students to participate in a program with international students ranging in experience levels from undergrad to doctoral,” English said. “Our students performed remarkably well. I cannot adequately express how proud I am of these particular individuals. Yes, they proved themselves to be superstars, but they also represented our school and nation with grace and professionalism.”
The European Innovation Academy is a non-profit educational institution recognized for excellence in tech entrepreneurship education. Its educational programs are developed with professionals of world class partner universities and companies, including University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, Google, Amadeus and CA. Participants gain new experiences and skill sets by working with people from all over the globe in an immersive experience.
For more information about this program as well as others supported by the Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation at Grove City College, please visit www.gccentrepreneurship.com.