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A car park pitch and Dragons' Den add an extra challenge to the Business Innovation minor

An elevator pitch in the car park and a real Dragons' Den. Those were two highlights of the minor in Business Innovation that took place in the autumn of 2020 at HAS University of Applied Sciences in Venlo. Over the course of 10 weeks, 30 students developed a business idea, guided by HAS University of Applied Sciences lecturers and experts from the professional field. Students Eva van Houtum, Wessel Sanders and Youri Timmermans talked to us about their experiences.

Before that, lecturer Esther Vennekens explains exactly what the minor - which ran for the 5th time - entails. “At the beginning of the minor, each student comes up with three ideas they would like to bring to market. They can also make contact with a company to solve a new business-related issue for them. In the following weeks, they continue to explore these ideas and issues. Based on this, the students choose one idea for which they develop a complete business concept according to the Business Model Canvas.”

Presentation moments

“There are two main presentation moments," continues Esther. “The first is the elevator pitch. We normally hold this in the Innovatoren tower in Venlo. We literally get into a lift with a student who has the 39 seconds it takes the lift to reach the top floor to pitch their business idea. Due to corona virus rules, this wasn’t possible this time, so we had to think of an alternative. This time we did a car park pitch: each student walked from the car park to Villa Flora, next to the Innovatoren, and pitched their idea to a ‘passer-by'.”

The car park pitch took place at Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo.

Valuable feedback

“The second presentation moment is our Dragons' Den, held for the first time this year. During this meeting, the students were allowed to present their plans to a panel of 7 entrepreneurs: Corine Fleuren (Fleuren Tree Nursery), Jos Tholen (Agrifirm), Jeroen Rondeel (Blue Engineering), Merijn Luijkx (Rabobank), André Boudewijns (ABC Tractors), Marcel Verdellen (Satori Holland) and Funs Ebus (Ebus Planten). In the space of 10 minutes, they were able to discover the professional field’s reaction to their idea and receive valuable feedback. This was a valuable experience for students and professionals alike and everyone went home full of renewed inspiration.”

A mix of students

About 30 students from various HAS study programmes participated in this edition. There were also 3 students from three other Universities of Applied Sciences: Hanze, Fontys and HZ Universities of Applied Sciences. Students Eva van Houtum (Food Innovation), Wessel Sanders (Food Innovation) and Youri Timmermans (Business Management in Agriculture & Food) were keen to tell you more about why they chose the minor and what their business idea entails.

“I'm very entrepreneurial and I applied for this minor because I wanted to find out if entrepreneurship would suit me. I really enjoyed working out my own business idea. My concept is about positioning companies and graphic design. Many companies don’t use the right communication tools to reach their target audience. Sometimes they are not even clear about who their target audience is. I want to help them position themselves correctly in the market, for example by determining what their identity is and what distinguishes them from their competitors. The Dragons' Den was really a highlight. Presentations generally don’t bother me too much and so it was mostly really fun to do and educational as well. I even ended up by making some contacts for the future. I will now carry on developing my concept during my individual professional assignment for my graduation.”
“This minor appealed to me because my specialisation in Design within the Food Innovation study programme focuses on developing innovative and creative concepts, not on how to translate them to the market. This was something I wanted to know more about. For me, the biggest challenge within the minor was the car park pitch. I have a tendency to explain far too much. It was a good lesson in clear and concise wording because you have so little time. My business concept is about desserts. It occurred to me that children’s desserts in the supermarket are usually not part of the Dutch ‘Wheel of Five’ food guidelines. I developed a concept for this and created a new dessert. I would love to continue developing the concept, but because I am currently an intern, I don’t have much time to spend on it. However, I am currently in talks with a partner who could put it on the market under their label. I hope to be able to come back to this in the future.”
“For a long time, I have been walking around with an idea related to crop protection that would help improve food safety, reduce emissions during crop protection and contributes to circular agriculture. During this minor, I finally had the opportunity of working on this idea for the first time. This was really fantastic. I learned a lot, discovered my unique selling points and found out who my idea would have an impact on. The 10 minutes at the Dragons' Den was a bit short for me to explain my idea which is quite complex and difficult to explain in such a short time. However, it was a fun experience and I was given positive feedback. I will definitely take my idea further. In fact, I'm currently doing a module on business and finance focusing on the financial side of my concept.”