A look back: CEMS Startup Challenge

The Student Board and CEMS Entrepreneurs organized the annual CEMS Startup Challenge at the Career Forum in Budapest on the 2nd and 3rd of November 2017. The Startup Challenge was initiated last year to give entrepreneurial CEMS students and alumni the chance to connect with one another, mentors, and Corporate Partners. This year, ten teams competed in two stages and received one-on-one mentoring to help develop their ideas and startups.

CEMS Startup Challenge picture

Ten teams competed in two stages of the CEMS Startup Challenge: Idea Stage for teams of CEMS students with an idea for a startup and Early Stage for CEMS students and alumni already running a startup. Teams spent the two days working one-on-one with mentors from CEMS Entrepreneurs and LVMH, who helped them develop their ideas and pitches. They were also able to participate in a Skill Seminar given by Christian Winkler, Principal at btov Partners, on entrepreneurship and basics for building a successful startup.

On the final night of the Startup Challenge, teams had five minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges from Salesforce, Gartner, LVMH, CEMS Entrepreneurs, and an audience of CEMS students, alumni, and friends. They were then allowed five minutes to respond to questions from judges. After all teams had presented, judges convened to choose a winner from each of the two stages. Afterward, teams, mentors, and judges were treated to a networking evening and champagne tasting event, kindly sponsored by LVMH.

Idea Stage

Team Passingo won the Idea Stage competition with their public transportation app. Through this mobile public transportation wallet, students will be able to manage their local transport card balances and, if the city infrastructure is ready, plastic and paper cards will be eliminated. As their prize, they will travel to one of Salesforce’s European headquarters to learn more about how entrepreneurial mindsets and experience can be harnessed to drive growth in a corporate environment.

“As an Idea Stage team, it was really useful for us to be able to work with such experienced mentors and to have their reviews about the execution of our newly born idea. We are aware that we have a lot to learn and so excited because we will begin our learning process with the support of Salesforce,” said Zeynep Karakaya, a member speaking on behalf of Team Passingo.

Early Stage

Codela, a cloud-based platform where developers improve their skills with online coding challenges and companies assess developer applicants, won the Early Stage division and will benefit from further mentorship from VCs and their portfolio companies.

“I got so excited when I found out Codela was amongst the finalists for the early stage category. Although we could not be there in person due to some inconveniences, CEMS Challenge team was so incredible that they came up with the idea of online presentation. We talked to our mentor on the phone and did the presentation on Skype. We already got in touch with European VCs and will continue our sessions,” said a team representative from Codela.

The Student Board would like to thank Salesforce, Gartner, LVMH, and CEMS Entrepreneurs for their support in this successful event. They look forward to building on this year’s success for another great Startup Challenge in 2018.