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H2020

MY-WAY Report Summary

Project ID: 644367
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MY-WAY (Strengthening the web entrepreneurship ecosystem in Europe for young people by creating a pan-European network of actively engaged student networks and student entrepreneurship centres)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2015-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

When the MY-WAY project was funded in 2014, the European landscape of web entrepreneurship was highly fragmented: although many support initiatives existed, they did not coordinate their efforts, information was lacking and young European prospective entrepreneurs were necessarily limited to their local options when searching for information and support. The idea of MY-WAY came from talks and confidence boosting speeches on how young adults should start and develop their businesses. We started with a few basic thoughts, such as startup business is about connections; you need to reach the critical mass to get your message visible; build on what exists; copy what works; you can do it. These messages are easy to understand but more difficult to implement. Listening to young people’s challenges, it became clear that connecting the stakeholders of the web entrepreneurship ecosystem (mentors, accelerators, VCs, incubators etc.) with the student networks; connecting the students with business people and connecting the available platforms and initiatives across Europe had the potential of providing all actors with an added value and increase the effectiveness of the web entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The project therefore set itself the following objectives:
• Enhancing coordination and collaboration between key actors in web entrepreneurship and developing methods of embedding and transferring good practices in different student support centres;
• Developing and activating a network of student support centres in web entrepreneurship;
• Structuring information on support services and initiatives on web entrepreneurship, identifying and disseminating good practices in student support and web entrepreneurship services;
• Promoting existing web entrepreneurship initiatives, creating synergies across these communities by engaging students and their social network resulting in improved services;
• Providing tailored information and guidance to –prospective young entrepreneurs, students and the student support centres on the web entrepreneurship ecosystem;
• Opening up possibilities for using an open innovation model by partnering with existing startups and SMEs looking for talent and discovering new lines for their business;
• Changing the mindset of the targeted young adults on web entrepreneurship by boosting their confidence, offering tailored information on web entrepreneurship.

In order to address the above mentioned challenges and to achieve these goals, Europa Media Non-profit Ltd., coordinator of the project, involved major players of the web entrepreneurship ecosystem from across Europe whose complementary expertise and knowledge will ensure the successful implementation of MY-WAY activities:
• Bar Ilan University, in particular the Graduate School of Business Administration, which offers MBA and PhD programs in a variety of focal areas, including finance, strategy, marketing, information technologies and systems, and organisational behaviour.
• The London Association of Enterprise Agencies Ltd. (Capital Enterprise), a not-for-profit membership group for organisations that deliver enterprise support in London.
• Sabanci University, internationally recognised as one of the most innovative and research-oriented universities in Turkey.
• AEGEE - European Students’ Forum, one of Europe’s biggest interdisciplinary student organisations, which runs the Youth Unemployment Project, including the European School of Entrepreneurship.
• EU-Startups.com, one of the leading online magazines covering European internet and mobile startups.
• National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE), a UK-wide network of enterprise societies that aims at making entrepreneurship an achievable career option
• YES-European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs, the main association of young entrepreneurs in Europe working for boosting entrepreneurial culture in Europe, improving entrepreneurial education and modernising the legal framework for entrepreneurship.
• Euclid Network, the European network of third sector leaders (i.e. civil society and social enterprise). This is a growing, diverse community of change makers, focusing on three main activities: capacity building, piloting innovation and advocating with institutional players for social change.
• H-FARM S.P.A is a Venture incubator, created with the aim of helping young entrepreneurs in launching innovative internet startups and supporting the transformation of Italian companies in a digital perspective. H-FARM is also launching its own educational pathway: H-International School (from early years to high school) and H-Digital Transformation School (University)

Twelve months after the beginning of MY-WAY, the landscape is starting to be reshaped: the project’s individual efforts, enhanced by its sound cooperation with other projects and initiatives under the Startup Europe umbrella, are starting to prove practical outcomes in the everyday lives of young Europeans who want to launch their web business.

Project coordinator: Gabriella Lovasz and Krisztina Varga-Toth, Europa Media Non-profit Ltd.
Project website: http://www.mywaystartup.eu/

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"MY-WAY has achieved all set objectives for the period. MY-WAY partners have mapped the web-entrepreneurship ecosystem and developed a dynamic map for prospective entrepreneurs; have defined the needs of the students and the capabilities of the student organizations. The project consortium has shared a set of European best practices on student support activities, which were analysed in the context of capability gaps defined at student organizations. During the first 12 months the MY-WAY consortium has organized one Stakeholder meeting in Brussels with the involvement of major players of the European web-entrepreneurship community and facilitated numerous discussions with local stakeholders in order to engage them and involve them into MY-WAY activities. MY-WAY partners have participated in several tech and startup events across Europe as speakers, panellist, workshop moderators and exhibitors in order to increase the visibility of MY-WAY and the Startup Europe Initiative as well as engage the future generation of web-entrepreneurs.

More specifically the project achievements in the first 12 months:

Mapping the ecosystem

One of the major challenges for young entrepreneurs is the fact that often they are not aware of the existing resources available to them, both locally and across Europe. In the implementation of WP2 – Ecosystem, MY-WAY partners have therefore taken the following steps to design, create and populate an online Map of European Web Entrepreneurship ecosystem:

o Defined a mapping procedure, detailing the steps and the data collection methodology, with an eye on ensuring data comparability. The method chosen was based on the Value Network Analysis methodology (Allee, 2008).
o Created a list of classes. In order to define the specific needs of web entrepreneurs, a pre-test was conducted among experienced web entrepreneurs, to identify the most important resources required in the first phases of starting and running a new business. Accordingly, the following list of classes was created: VC’s Accelerators/incubators, Angels, Crowd funding, Internet Service Providers (ISP), Technical web services, Web developers, Legal services, Accounting services, Student centres, Governmental support agencies, Patent registration services.
o Created an interactive web-based tool to support the dynamic mapping process of the entrepreneurial ecosystem population. Users should first choose a European city (we currently offer 80 cities). For each city, the map will show available classes, and within each class a list of single entities is provided, with relevant data.
o Began to populate the map, distributing ten cities (Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Dublin, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Milan, Stockholm and Tel Aviv) amongst partners. The following information was required for each entity: name, website, short description/comments, class type, country, town, address, list of services.

The methodology and the platform developed by MY-WAY are helping student centres to support web entrepreneurs in their endeavours to start and run a new business by understanding their immediate environment and to locate required resources. The mapping process is a dynamic, open to continuous updates and modifications. MY-WAY is already encouraging and welcoming new additions in terms of missing entities, as well as feedback in terms of user’s experience.

Survey and interviews: Better understanding current challenges of student support centres and of young prospective entrepreneurs.

In WP2, MY-WAY partners also conducted an online survey and face-to-face interviews to identify and better understand the needs and capabilities of the student networks and the young adults in different EU countries. A statistical analysis of the combined survey and quantized interview responses was performed via the Sequential Design method. The full analysis has shown that a variety of capability gaps persist in the current entrepreneurship support system within web entrepreneurship ecosystems, which can be broadly categorised into three groups: first, the structure, role and perception of student support centres need to be reconsidered, because currently they do not represent key actors within the web entrepreneurship ecosystem and young entrepreneurs are oftentimes not aware of their services; the majority of young entrepreneurs do not feel represented by student support centres located at higher education institutions, and it is vital to provide support services outside the educational sector as this may be considered too restrictive and may not address all groups of young entrepreneurs. Second, the organisation of web entrepreneurship ecosystems needs to be improved, as many of these do not provide easily accessible and coherent information for young entrepreneurs. Moreover, it is crucial to establish and strengthen partnerships among similar organisations within and across web entrepreneurship ecosystems. Third, student support centres need to provide services that are stage specific and in demand among young entrepreneurs. Particularly, mentoring, financial and tech skills support are required to support young entrepreneurs effectively.

The project team also provided suggestions to tackle these gaps. Measures like e-mentoring allow young entrepreneurs to access structured information and support via the internet, which is their key tool to find information. Secondly, a European list of foundations and programmes offering funding opportunities for young entrepreneurs may be the missing piece in TYAs’ need for a more structured and easily accessible place to find companies, venture capital firms, business angels, organisations and funds that are willing to financially support ideas or enterprises of young entrepreneurs. Finally, MY-WAY sees the benefits in establishing a European Platform of Student Support Centres, which could share best practices and collaboratively provide better services to young adults.

Stakeholders Engagement

MY-WAY partners have collected and analysed 24 best practices in total from their countries that can be utilised to identify commonalities and to provide potential solutions for specific issues and service gaps that student support centres and young entrepreneurs may face.

The results of this activity showed that student support centre challenges can be categorised into enterprise awareness, promotion of student support centre activities, access to enterprise skills, access to finance and confidence. Most student support centres tailor their services so as to help young entrepreneurs to overcome the challenges they face. The support provided by student support centres and individual initiatives can be split into entrepreneurship awareness and entrepreneurship support. Entrepreneurship awareness focuses on ensuring that entrepreneurship is promoted as a visible and attractive option for young people, whereas entrepreneurship support targets entrepreneurship skills and mentoring support for young and prospective entrepreneurs.

Moreover, the analysis of the case studies provides targeted solutions for problem areas and capability gaps, as identified in the previous activities, in young entrepreneurship support across Europe. The capability gaps include installing student support centres as key actors, increasing student support service awareness, caution in regards to the name and location of student support centres, lack of coherent information, strengthening partnerships with similar organisations and networks, creating networks in cities and universities, offering stage specific support, expanding mentoring support, providing financial support, teaching tech skills and providing hands-on entrepreneurial knowledge. One of the main findings of the best practices collection is that student support centres can position themselves as key actors within the web entrepreneurship ecosystem if they are connected with other actors within the ecosystem. By positioning themselves as central information points for young adults in their regional ecosystem, student support centres can also provide more coherent information and services that will help the prospective entrepreneurs to take the first step of their entrepreneurial journey. Competitions can be an effective tool to increase student support awareness on entrepreneurship and social media should be utilised to have a far reach across the ecosystem. In addition, networking events, one-to-one advice or mentoring, financial support and Entrepreneurs Boot Camps should be provided to young entrepreneurs to offer stage specific support. It is crucial to teach young prospective entrepreneurs with hands-on entrepreneurial knowledge and to create a safe haven in which TYAs can excel as entrepreneurs.

Another task related to stakeholders engagement was to develop a Stakeholder database including those accelerators, start-up mentors, business experts, student support centre leaders, web entrepreneurship platform managers, political lobbyists etc. who are willing to participate in the implementation of MY-WAY, and would commit to support the students networks in the maintenance after the end of the project taking into consideration the gender balance as well.

A Call for Expression of Interest was prepared and shared on MY-WAY’s website and social media, on EU-Startups.com, as well as with all partners’ networks. In two weeks, a total number of 47 replies had been received, and a database was created. Individuals in this database were then contacted to better understand potential collaboration agreements to improve our support to student networks.

The database was also used as basis for invitations to two Stakeholder Meetings. The second Meeting could not be held within the first year, but only two months later than expected; however both meetings resulted in quality discussions and new ideas. The ultimate goal of the Stakeholders Meeting was to establish connections and understanding between the stakeholders, resulting in collaborations between the student support centres and business actors. Such collaborations are taking place in the form of formal cooperation agreements (information exchange) and joint actions.

In order to achieve this goal, the two meetings aimed at:
o Informing different stakeholders/business actors about the needs of student support centres and about MY-WAY’s plans to execute support schemes in four cities (Budapest, Zaragoza, London and Istanbul).
o Identifying opportunities for cooperation and common service provision with web entrepreneurship stakeholders ready and willing to sustain cooperation with student support centres.
o Discussing agreements with existing initiatives and platforms on web entrepreneurship regarding.

These meetings also enabled student support centres to discuss additional topics in terms of web entrepreneurship support. On the one hand, the first Stakeholders Meeting focused on discussions about the services provided by student support centres and how they can be improved, while keeping an eye on the role of student support centres, their connection with the University and the role that the MY-WAY project plays in it. For the first Stakeholders Meeting it was very important to get input and new ideas from all stakeholders. On the other hand, the second Stakeholders Meeting focused on the development of concrete action plans in four pre-established cities and other ecosystems. The event was meant to facilitate networking, collect new ideas for collaborations and activities, connect stakeholders with student networks and student support centres and test reaction of stakeholders regarding the action plan proposed by the partners.

European Disruptors’ Network

The Young European Disruptors Network (EDs) is a European community of entrepreneurs established by the European Commission with the goal of catalysing the next generation of disruptors, learning from each other and with each other. The contact centre of the Network, directly linked to EDs, European Commission and Startup Europe initiatives, is a virtual secretariat, held by the Project MY-WAY. The Secretariat is in charge of the organization of the activities of the Network, in order to make it grow in a EU perspective. Being able to articulate and focus on an “innovation path”, filtering the most valuable initiatives and creating new connections with new “disruptive entrepreneurs” are the main priorities of the Network. Specific virtual meetings were organized by the Secretariat and held also with the help of mentors and Ambassadors connected with the European Commission. In order to ensure well-balanced stakeholder participation, the Secretariat also contacted several key stakeholders – innovators, pioneers, change makers, disruptive minds and projects. As a real network, the Disruptors’ Network is also open to new members chosen through a case-by-case approach, based on a qualitative selection.

Currently, the members of the Network are:
• Robbert Jan Hanse - HollandStartup – Netherlands
• Arnie Sriskandarajah - Rocket Internet - UK
• Oskari Lehtonen - Koppi Catch - Finland
• Tobias Martens - “30dna” - Germany
• Balázs Szabó - Smart Drive - Hungary
• Inês Santos Silva - Startup Pirates - Portugal
• Miguel Arias - Chamberi Valley - Spain
• Bogdan Iordache - HowToWeb - Romania
• Andreas Tschas - Pioneers – Austria
• Erik Van Rompay - Directeur Général PNO Consultants- France

Following MY-WAY’s responsibility of maintaining the virtual secretariat for the EDs, a dedicated subpage was created on MY-WAY’s website: http://www.mywaystartup.eu/disruptors_network. This is the main access point to information on the network for all interested parties, as well as the central site to launch coordination and collaboration activities. In order to increase visibility of the network and, consequently, to boost prospects of cooperation, the Disruptors Network was also publicised on the website of Startup Europe Club (http://startupeuropeclub.eu/european-disruptors-networks/) and at F6S the largest platform of the startup community.

The first online meeting of the Disruptors’ Network took place on July 15th 2015; which has been a real milestone for the Network not only for gathering together really interesting and motivating expectations on the Disruptors’ Network but especially for the positive feedbacks on the upcoming activities. Unlike what was happening some years ago in the EU, today a greater attention is given to web entrepreneurship and to all the possibilities connected to it within the European panorama. Among the main feedbacks gathered during the meeting, the great majority agreed on the need of sharing resources and joint events for a growth in an EU perspective. Being able to articulate and focus on an “innovation path”, filtering the most valuable initiatives and creating new connections with new “disruptive entrepreneurs” should be the main priority of the Network. A great emphasis from the European Commission was given on the quality rather than the quantity, especially for the expansion of the Network. One of main features of this Network is that each participant can be easily associated with successful initiatives and that’s the reason why the potential at the base, if properly unlocked, can lead to disruptive joint actions and plans.

Based on the suggestion and the need of the DN members MY-WAY decided to focus on online mentoring session covering “hot issues” suggested by the DN members. The first edition of the Disruptors’ Network online mentoring session was organized on 12th of October 2015. Lecturer from EASME Agnieszka Stasiakowska introduced the SME instrument to the participants and provided valuable information concerning the application procedure and the success metrics. Following the first edition of the online mentoring session DN members confirmed t
hat session was useful for them and would like to continue participating at the next editions. Next edition of the online mentoring sessions are scheduled for the first quarter of 2016.

Dissemination and exploitation activities

Several activities were conducted by the project team in order to maximise the project’s visibility, in particular that of the role of student support centres in the web entrepreneurship ecosystem. A distinctive graphical identity was created for the project, which helped to create and reinforce a familiar and consistent image of the project towards the audience.

A strategic document was developed in the very beginning of the project, to provide guidelines to partners in terms of individual responsibilities, timeline of tasks, emphasis on cooperation and better understanding of existing tools to tailor the message to the target group. This document, together with the graphical elements created for MY-WAY, is publicly available on the project’s website.

In the first year of the project, MY-WAY partners have taken part in nine events:
• Startup Europe Summit (12-13 February 2015, Berlin)
• NetFutures2015 (25-26 March 2015, Brussels)
• #EUTechWriters (25 May 2015, Helsinki)
• EYEC 2015 (3-5 June 2015)
• G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance 2015 (7-9 September 2015)
• Startup Olé (9-10 September 2015, Salamanca)
• Inclusive Entrepreneurship in Europe: Creating Sustainable Employment and Growth (24 September 2015, Brussels)
• Networking Session at ICT2015 (21 October 2015, Lisbon)
• First Stakeholders Meeting (12 November 2015, Brussels)

Each event was largely supported by a strong online communication campaign and by the production of dissemination materials (brochures, flyers, roll up banners, posters...)

They provided a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the project objectives, to engage new stakeholders with a view of expanding the stakeholder’s database, as well as to strengthen an already sound cooperation with other Startup Europe projects.

Each event was further accompanied by wide press coverage, thanks to several articles, press releases and blog posts published on a number of media outlets.

Concerning in particular online media, efforts have been channelled into different online platforms:
o Regular articles on EU-Startups.com, one of Europe’s leading startup blogs (about 60,000 page views/month), and the creation of press releases which were distributed to other startup related online publications.
o Social media activities, as the project has an active account on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
o The project’s mobile-friendly website, which provides useful news, events, as well as ad hoc articles on each single initiative.
o Close collaboration with the Startup Europe initiative as a whole and the other projects individually.

Moreover, the task foresaw the goal to achieve additional visibility through articles on other tech/web related online publications. The project partner Menlo Media (EU Startups) leveraged its network of existing media contacts and curated an extensive list of highly relevant tech journalists. Menlo Media created press releases for each project milestone and distributed them within a personal email to each of these journalists. Despite the endeavours made until now, the online dissemination activities have not lived up to their full potential yet, partly due to the reluctance of some publications in providing visibility to such projects as a general rule. However, personal connections have already been established with editors of several relevant publications and it is expected that single initiatives and the first results, which MY-WAY will produce in 2016, will be more appealing and fitting to their editorial strategies and will therefore find larger visibility.

More information on our dissemination efforts can be found on the project’s website, under the report on Online Media."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

MY-WAY activities have already started to demonstrate their socio-economic relevance on for target groups: young adults, student support centres, business actors and policy-makers.
Moreover, the solid collaboration with other projects under the Startup Europe umbrella has served as a multiplier, particularly in terms of network that could be reached for awareness raising, invitations to stakeholder meetings, overall better understanding of the European tech and entrepreneurship ecosystems, and finally for the design and signing of potential collaboration agreements.

In its first year of business, MY-WAY has certainly acquired an increasing attention, and has successfully raised awareness on current challenges of young entrepreneurs and of student networks willing to support them. MY-WAY has already strongly affected four target groups, and will continue to do so in the coming year. In particular:

The Online Map and the results of our Surveys and Interviews have affected:
Young adults, who have started to better understand the European web entrepreneurship ecosystem, learned to map it and to take actions in it. They have also received easier and more direct access to relevant information, having the ability to directly contribute to it.
Business actors, who are represented on the map and will have easier access to talent.

The Stakeholder Meetings have had a positive impact on:
Young adults, who have had the unique chance to discuss face-to-face with relevant actors whom they would have never met otherwise. They have also acquired more relevant information and access to training and services, while at the same time gaining negotiation strength on the stakeholders themselves, since the discussions took place in a very informal and multilateral way, encouraging networking and a free exchange of views.
Student support centres (student network members, their alumni and student entrepreneurship centres at HE organisations), who have acted as multipliers and channelled more tailored support for the represented young adults through the beginning of a systematic cooperation. They have also started to become more engaged in the web entrepreneurship ecosystem and to represent better the young adults.
Business actors have also received the unique chance to better understand the needs of young adults and the existing gaps in the European ecosystem, thus benefiting from the opportunity to offer more tailored support. Furthermore, new collaboration agreements with student support centres, designed and discussed during the stakeholder meetings, have the potential to further increase business actors’ access to talent across Europe.

MY-WAY’s overall dissemination and communication actions, on social media, during events and in collaboration with Startup Europe, have:
Encouraged young adults to start a web-based business, given the broad and positive outlook on entrepreneurship which has been promoted.
Helped business actors and policy makers better understand existing challenges, needs and gaps on part of young adults and student support centres across Europe in the field of entrepreneurship.

In a longer term perspective, MY-WAY will:
1. Further contribute to increase the likelihood of young adults finding the necessary startup financial support;
2. Support policy-makers in receiving understandable messages from young adults and share their messages with the young adults;
3. Facilitate the uptake, by policy makers, of our research and activities results to further improve the actions of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiatives.
4. Facilitate and enhance the communication between the policy-makers, decision-makers and the young disruptors of the European web entrepreneurship ecosystem so that they collaborate more effectively

Related information

Record Number: 186600 / Last updated on: 2016-07-14
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