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Team Academy and the art of the entrepreneur

“There’s lots of bad reasons to start a company. But there’s only one good, legitimate reason, and I think you know what it is: it’s to change the world.” – Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote

The word ‘entrepreneur’ has far reaching connotations. For some, it paints a picture of the shy but brilliant classroom wiz, that tech-savvy genius you see but never hear, and so remain oblivious to their heaps of good ideas. Others would imagine the streetwise business brain with the gift of the gab, that guy or girl you always knew would go far due to their reams of charm and wealth of perseverance. Some might summon pictures of the happy-go-lucky, risk-taking player – the ‘try, try and try again’-type person who is also a firm believer of right place at the right time…

The truth is, an ‘entrepreneur’ doesn’t necessarily belong to a certain personality type.

Anyone with the right amount of know-how can become one. What you must possess, though, is great strength, stamina, determination and dedication, and the ability to know well how to fan the spark of a really great concept and turn it into a marketable and profitable business venture.

After all, entrepreneurship is not just about catching the ball; it’s about running with it and then going on to score that homerun.

According to Elizabeth Amini, CEO and co-founder of Anti-Aging Games LLC, to be successful as an entrepreneur requires much more than the seed of an intelligent objective.

“Most people think being an entrepreneur is all about coming up with an idea, but that’s just one part,” she told Business News Daily.  “It’s also important to know, right from the start, how you will reach interested customers in an effective and affordable way.”

And as a concept itself, entrepreneurship is steadily on the rise, with 65 percent of workers in the U.S. alone claiming they’d rather be a self-employed entrepreneur than an employee in an industry or in an office.

MJ Gottlieb, co-founder of consulting firm Hustle Branding, takes Amini’s point even further, telling Business News Weekly it takes a really special kind of person to truly make it as an entrepreneur.

“An entrepreneur is someone who can take any idea, whether it be a product and/or a service, and have the skill set, will and courage to take extreme risk to do whatever it takes to turn that concept into reality, and not only bring it to market,” he says, “but make it a viable product and/or service that people want or need.”

One leading institution that has made it its business to mould students into successful entrepreneurs is Team Academy in Amsterdam. Through its ground-breaking, business-centred curriculum, this school supports students around the world by constantly developing, growing and evaluating their unique business projects.

Their Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship (BBAE) is a four-year, full-time degree programme specially designed to boost students to the top of their business game.

At Team Academy, all students learn by doing, working in self-managed teams from the beginning of their studies so they can create real companies for the benefit of real customers. The first years immediately start doing this, for example, the school sent the group of 22 first year students to Romania to accomplish a money goal of €1000. In order to achieve this, the team has to come with ideas and action to earn their set moneygoal,  by selling f.e in this case, the inherently Dutch treat known as Stroopwafels.

“During the whole trip we learnt a lot about teamwork and each other,” said Derk de Vries, a participant of the trip. “I also learnt a lot from all the contact we had to have with companies and people from the business world…I learnt that doing business in other countries can be very different,” he adds, “and I learnt to present myself.”

All money earned via Team Academy’s principle of ‘learning by doing’ is then invested back into education all over the world, and graduates leave fully-qualified to lead the formation of new businesses, to work on development from inside a global enterprise, or otherwise continue to nurture their own private company.

As a testament to the school’s success in its entrepreneurial training, one of Team Academy’s most recent accomplishments was winning the Dutch final of the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards (GSEA).

Gonzalo Fernández García, co-founder of BeCiclos and fourth year BBA student, and his teammates Ana Larrea, Danel Viana and Saskia Schrijnen, won the award of Best Student Entrepreneur (GSEA) in the Netherlands in 2016, qualifying for the world finals that took place in Bangkok.

“When I applied to the GSEA Netherlands, I was very enthusiastic to have this opportunity,” Gonzalo explains. “We had the stage to share our idea and validate it with the jury and the rest of the audience.

“I presented BeCiclos, which is the company where you can adopt a second-hand Dutch bicycle. We sell high quality and affordable bicycles through our website that are produced [in] a sustainable and humanistic way,” he adds. “Our mission is to fight pollution and to change the way people transport. Both the jury and the public really liked it. This gave me a great feeling, and made me realise that what we are doing is actually creating a good impact, and people can see that. We ended up winning the Dutch competition after an intense and fun evening which was full of interesting people.”

Gonzalo proudly accepted this prestigious award, along with the healthy sum of €2.500 for the development of BeCiclos. On top of this, he was also able to seize the chance to become a world champion student entrepreneur, representing the Netherlands with his BeCiclos creation at the GSEA awards in Bangkok.

“…One of the key things I took out from the competition was that the context of what you are doing matters greatly,” he adds. “Your entrepreneurial story was 70% of your score and you didn’t [have] to have the company which was [producing] more money…but rather have a strong entrepreneurial personality and a life story which resembled your entrepreneurial journey with the ups and downs it had.”

Without his BBAE and the entrepreneurial foundations he received at Team Academy, Gonzalo may never have had the strength, knowledge, nor the innovative skillset needed to make his concept a fruitful reality. Without Team Academy, the prestigious title may not have been his, and BeCiclos would still be nothing more than a series of underrated neurons and synapses.

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All images courtesy of Team Academy

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