Simonas Kukšas is a young start-up founder. Two years ago he gave a chance to participating and pitching the business idea in Futurepreneurs 2017 – sustainability pre-acceleration program for young people willing to become entrepreneurs. At that time Simonas did not win any of the prizes. However, the possibility of flexing his business strengths against professionals gave him valuable and practical knowledge about start-up business which enabled Simonas to develop his idea.
Obstacles are inevitable
Simonas notes the importance of Futurepreneurs program which is running the third year in a row – school graduates often underestimate their abilities and take the typical career path. In his opinion, Futurepreneurs organised by Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park is a great place where young adults can take the risk and try creating different career paths.
“When I have first joined the program, I have had minimal knowledge about business development or where to start all of it. But I consider the critique and failures as the best lessons towards improvements and self-development.” – said Simonas. Despite these rough lessons, he is now a co-founder of an online platform providing information about charging spots for electric cars. Platform unites public charging spots (e.g. restaurants, shopping malls, gyms), manufacturers of equipment for charging spots and users of electric vehicles.
“Futurepreneurs program has helped me to find my own passion. Also, I have gained courage, knowledge and skills such as decision making, critical thinking and problem-solving. All this is exactly what is needed for business development.” – continued S. Kukšas.
The number of young entrepreneurs is increasing
Director of Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park Laima Kaušpadienė highlights the main participants’ experiences: “A three months long sustainability pre-acceleration program gives an opportunity to gain knowledge in five training workshops with experienced lectors. Together they have an opportunity to analyse and set the business goals, identify potential clients and partners, draft their business models and search for ways to attract the investors.”
“This year we have received almost 200 applications of which 16 teams were pitching in the final Demo Day. We are happy to see the program is not losing the popularity” – says project coordinator Julija Maslinskaitė. She claims Futurepreneurs program receives new participants each year, but also previous participants are coming back with new ideas.
Variety of products
Maslinskaitė notices that ideas differ each year. Last year program participants have generated business ideas in ICT sector (mobile apps, web platforms, etc.), whereas this year most of the teams have decided to develop physical products (smart benches that measure air pollution; smart bracelets with integrated full-time heart rate tracking that indicate various health issues; smart lockers, reusable shopping bags, etc.).
This year the finals took place in Creativity and Innovation Centre VGTU “Linkmenų fabrikas”. The main prize of 1000 Euros was dedicated to the winning team KIDnGO, who presented the sharing economy platform for travelling parents – platform should help them reduce the number of luggage items while travelling as they could rent childcare items from local parents. This way parents could also earn extra money by listing their own items for rent – baby strollers, bikes, child seats or even toys. Most sustainable business idea was shared by team Ekoperal and it was nominated with the prize established by Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park. Team is manufacturing reusable shopping bags made from recycled material.
Event hosting LinkMenų Fabrikas has established the prize for the best hardware solution and it was dedicated to the Assembly Point team creating the smart bench for public spaces – it would have the integrated air pollution indicator, CCTV and modular design that enables parking for bikes or scooters. Same team has also been nominated as the best idea in smart mobility with the prize established by the Contrarian Ventures.
Recycling electronic and plastic waste to nanoparticles and 3D printer plastic supply was nominated as most promising Futurepreneurs program idea. Restart team has received Katalista Ventures’ prize for this idea.
Mentors and business professionals guided and transferred their knowledge to the program participants. Demo Day jury was comprised of representatives from Sampo Accelerator (based in Finland), Katalista Ventures, Contrarian Ventures, Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park, LinkMenų Fabrikas and Western Union.
Laima Kaušpadienė from Sunrise Valley STP says they are already planning to continue the program in the coming year: “We are planning to continue the program in 2020 – each year we are improving it, adding new mentors and lectors to the team. Additionally, Futurepreneurs program will be officially integrated into Aeronautical Engineering master degree in Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.”
Futurepreneurs pre-acceleration program was launched in 2017 and became the first sustainability pre-acceleration program in Lithuania. The general sponsor of Futurepreneurs 2019 in Lithuania is Western Union.