In the Master in Entrepreneurship Program, students participate in the Sprint2Berlin course as part of the core modules. An exciting course using the Google-Sprint Format and focusing on start-up culture, it culminates in a week of company visits, workshops and talks, and a final nerve-racking ‘pitch’ from the students to a panel with their own business ideas. We spoke to Gabriela Ivanova from Class of 2020 about her background, why she chose to study a Master in Entrepreneurship, and her experiences during the program highlight in Berlin.
“I completed my Bachelors at the Technical University Munich, leaving with a degree in Management and Technology. I felt quite lost afterwards and did not see an industry that was right for me: I was an economist but with no interest in finance. Even after my studies and internships with different companies, I left with the feeling I was lacking an in-depth understanding of the business world.
The Master in Entrepreneurship Program at WHU seemed like the perfect next step, simply to have the possibility to enter a field where I can be more creative and innovative along with a flexible framework of learning. The opportunities here just feel so much more open and varied.
The program equips you with the skills and confidence to start your own company.
Through the Sprint2Berlin classes, I discovered how the entire process of founding comes together. In different groups, we started by developing an idea, conducting interviews to validate it, and then thought about the financial aspect, feasibility, etc. This helped me fully understand all the different dimensions of what it takes to start a business. Once in Berlin, we implemented our ideas and the processes learnt in class, while interacting and networking with successful founders.
Sprint2Berlin provides a great opportunity to strengthen friendships among students.
During my bachelors, there were around 800 people in my cohort, so perhaps you get to know five to ten people. At WHU, the class sizes are smaller but you spend more time together and develop better connections to the professors and with peers, through cases and group projects. During the Sprint2Berlin course, we lived together sharing a room or an apartment in an Airbnb, and this made us even closer as a group. At night, we all sat together for dinner after a day of visiting companies, such as Scaling Spaces or Zalando.
It was fascinating to have this look ‘behind the curtain’ and gain an insight into the different companies, whether a glamorous name like Porsche or a smaller, lesser-known start-up. Vermietet.de is one that really stands out for me as it was the founder’s personal story, how he recognized a problem whilst helping his relatives, and how this idea grew from this into a serious business. His authenticity, honesty, and direct manner made him very relatable to us.
There is a special spark to be found in every idea and in every aspect of business.
Even if a concept does not sound so exciting at first, you begin to see that it is very important as a start-up to find an idea you relate to and enjoy. However, the biggest learning curve for me during the Sprint2Berlin classes was largely because I had never really engaged with the start-up scene before. We all quickly learnt this way of thinking used by start-ups, to seek opportunities in every situation. I think that was one of the biggest impacts on me from Sprint2Berlin, to always keep your eyes open to new ideas.
The key takeaway for me is that even if you ‘fail’, there is still room to learn and grow.
The pitch element was to a group of people including professors, members of the WHU Incubator and venture capitalists, with a strict window of ten minutes. Our group idea was not successful, but while I do not think the idea itself was bad, perhaps we weren’t prepared enough or we struggled with the execution. It was not necessarily a ‘failure’ – pitching to an audience and receiving people’s questions was a helpful learning experience. Now I am aware of the right approach in founding a start-up and the potential pitfalls.
The start-up scene is such a rich and diverse field, and people are so driven and determined.
The most inspiring part of the module is that you feel the people are ‘touchable’. You visit a start-up founded two years ago and perhaps the founders were WHU students previously. You learn that everybody can be a founder – it’s difficult of course – but not impossible. The whole experience was so helpful at lighting this ‘spark’, to help us find ideas where our interests lie, and to really become much more creative. This is what makes the program unique; the chance to meet start-up founders and visit companies directly in Berlin is such a big advantage. Now I think I would like to found myself one day as I learnt so much and in such a short amount of time.
Modules like Sprint2Berlin focus on connecting you to the right people.
The Sprint2Berlin course makes this Master in Entrepreneurship Program special as it teaches you the ability to adapt, but also to learn through experience rather than purely through academics. With so many WHU alumni that are successful founders, it is inevitable that the diverse community here motivates the next generation to also build, innovate, and create.”