By Elina Agrawal (Medium)

Europe’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has long been trying to compete with that in the US, but without the community and network of student entrepreneurs, that has yet to happen. This is where edventure comes in.

“Startups and Entrepreneurship drive change”

Edventure is the first pan-European venture builder, on a mission to launch startups that tackle the world’s biggest issues. Zara Zaman, Ragnor Comerford and Fynn Comerford started edventure the summer of 2020. Each of them are incredibly passionate about startups, and wanted a way where they would work on and help as many as possible at once. They built the accelerator with an industry agnostic cohort model and have since helped founders from 50+ degree paths. Their vision: to scale the model and apply it to other universities across Europe, so that universities don’t have to build their entrepreneurship infrastructure from scratch.

Like all startups, it started small, with one pilot cohort made of students only from Scottish universities. The team managed to attract and coordinate all three of Scotland’s unicorn founders to share their knowledge to the cohort, Gareth Williams of Skyscanner, James Watt of Brewdog and Nigel Eccles of Fan Duel. Their second cohort was open to students across Europe, in line with the vision of a pan-European network of student founders tackling global issues. It attracted students and researchers from 18 different universities across Europe, over 22 different startups, ranging from the world’s first ecological and nutritional software like Goeconut to a student-led management consultancy for social impact organisations in regions impacted by crises. The cohort was so impressive that the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University then contracted edventure to run a data-driven incubator programme for their PhD students.

Before starting edventure, Zara, Ragnor and Fynn had pursued various entrepreneurial projects. Zara founded a university application mentorship platform to support students outside of the UK, and Ragnor and Fynn together created software that allowed individuals to personalize magazines they received, which was eventually bought by a publication house. As prior founders, they were aware of the gaps in resources for student founders. Predominantly they saw how difficult it was to form multidisciplinary teams, especially in the UK. Data shows just how important diversity can be in startup teams for future success. The team at edventure didn’t want to see students make that mistake, so they built in co-founder matchmaking into the programme.

The confidence to execute

European founders in general, let alone student founders, simply don’t have the same resources as their American counterparts. There’s a lack of guidance and support at the very beginning and aspiring entrepreneurs don’t know what to do. The result: people don’t think entrepreneurship is for them.

Startup experience provides the confidence that you know how to build something people need. Students are bright-eyed enough to dream up solutions, but the confidence to execute the ideas is missing. It’s a first-step problem, where people have the most trouble getting started. Too many students are discouraged because what they’re building doesn’t look as good as the products that are already existing. What these new founders don’t realize is that every startup starts small; Skyscanner’s co-founder shared with the first edventure cohort that they were just an excel sheet before it was a unicorn.

A diverse, dynamic and driven community.

Edventure hopes to demystify the first step of building a company, as every unicorn started off as a simple MVP. But making the MVP can also be incredibly lonely for founders. Edventure is there to plug that gap and is curating a motivational community centred around building startups. Student entrepreneurs generally feel like they have to drop out of school to pursue their startup, but it’s possible to do both — that’s where a strong community behind you becomes important. In edventure’s most recent cohort there were so many synergies where founders across industries were supporting each other with market research and network connections. To facilitate this, edventure will be releasing its platform — Edventure OS — which will be a one-stop-shop for student founders, aiding with every step of the journey from finding co-founders, right up to meeting with investors.

It’s never been easier for students to create an impact and build tools to make people’s lives easier as well as make money doing it. Edventure is the perfect place for proactive, committed and engaged student founders to build the ideas that will change the world.

The first pan-european university venture builder and accelerator. Building startups for a better future.