Uppsala network hosts entrepreneurship workshop

The Uppsala NFGL network recently held a workshop in entrepreneurship - and how to create a job instead of just looking for one. Network board member Maxim Vlasov explains what the team learned.

Uppsala network hosts entrepreneurship workshop
Photo: Mutasim Billah

It’s not a secret that finding a job in Sweden is not an easy task, especially for an international student without many contacts and with only foreign experience.

Imagine how instead of looking for a job, you could create a job for yourself and even for many others. The members of the Uppsala NFGL network took part in a creative workshop session on entrepreneurship led by Drivhuset, where they learned how to generate ideas and communicate them to others.

Photo: Mutasim Billah

Ideas are the root of any start-up. Ideas are everywhere – they come from research, news, books and even daily conversations, and success is in the ability to identify them. It’s not unusual that business ideas emerge from annoyance at certain routines like smelly clothes after a workout or ripped leggings, because there is room for improvement. 

Even more common are ideas that are just an addition to existing things. Remember – you don’t have to be unique, as long as you can detect existing problems and come up with an adjusted and superior solution.

Photo: Mutasim Billah

There are many ways to generate ideas. One of them is focused on problems: identify existing needs, narrow your target group and think of possible products and services that you might work with. Another way is to concentrate on yourself and see which experiences, interests, skills, resources and connections you have. If you are in a group, this technique can provide a precious pool of insights for generating new ideas.

Read also: Ten Swedish start-ups you haven't heard of

"The workshop helped me realize that it is not always big, new or unique ideas that make a successful entrepreneur," said participant Huda Muhammad Abdurahman, at Uppsala University. "From now on, I will be keeping my eyes wide open for even small things around me that can be turned into opportunities."

Photo: Mutasim Billah

Having a good idea is not enough though – you also have to get it across! A famous technique called pitching allows you to make an impression on listeners with a short (30 seconds to 2 minutes) message. Imagine you are in an elevator with someone important, and in a limited amount of time you need to convince this person to do the next step, be that exchanging business cards, booking lunch, or even buying your product.

A pitch consists of 6 steps:

1) Interest – create interest with a rhetorical question, metaphor, humor; good rhetoric is important

2) Problem – say what the problem/need is, what consequences and impacts it brings

3) Solution – offer your solution and say how it solves the problem

4) Benefits – elaborate on benefits/values that your solutions creates

5) Competition – show why competitors are inferior to your idea

6) Close – what has to happen after the pitch? (ex. sign-up for newsletter, visit your café)

The main rule is to stay clear and focused. It is important to create trust and to show your passion.

Photo: Mutasim Billah

Business is also about routines – how to protect your idea, secure funding, seek permits, choose a right corporate form and manage bookkeeping. We briefly went through these technicalities and learned about some recent start-up examples from Uppsala.

The entrepreneurship workshop was so inspirational, insightful and motivating," SLU student Jackson Musona said.  "We learned how one can start a successful business in Sweden and the likely sources of support for such.Thanks to SI and organizers, and I think that workshops of such nature should be organized more frequently."

There might be numerous realized ideas out there, but it doesn’t mean there is no place for you to enter the scene. Even if your first attempt fails, don’t give up. Never be discouraged and walk to your dream with your head up.

P.S. Did you know that as an international student you can get visa based on your own business? Read details here – Migrationsverket.

Text written by NFGL member Maxim Vlasov. All photos by NFGL member Mutasim Billah. 


The 14 struggling Danish towns given a break from regulation

Deserted town centres and struggling businesses are common traits in 14 Danish towns which will now be exempted from a number of regulations to give them a better chance of revival.

The 14 struggling Danish towns given a break from regulation

The 14 towns will be “set free” from certain rules and regulations in a trial scheme aimed at reviving them after years of decline.

The launch of the scheme was announced by the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs on Friday, and means that, for example, towns will be permitted to give extra subsidies to business owners who want to rent currently-empty town centre units.

They will also be allowed to cut down protected forest if it has taken the form of scrub and stops the town from feeling congruous; and to rent out empty commercial premises as housing in town centres.

The towns included in the trial are: Assens, Faaborg, Grindsted, Hornslet, Ikast, Nordborg, Nykøbing Sjælland, Odder, Otterup, Rødekro, Rønne, Sakskøbing, Støvring and Vamdrup, after their applications to the trial scheme were accepted.

A political agreement from 2021 paved the way for the new deregulation scheme the towns will hope to benefit from. The scheme is reported to cost the government 130 million kroner.

“I’m very much looking forward to seeing the result. I hope that this will be a part of what puts more life into the centre of medium-sized Danish towns,” the minister for rural districts Louise Schack Elholm said in a statement.

“This is a number of different initiatives, nine in total, that we are making as legal exemptions,” Elholm said.

Some 32 towns initially applied for the scheme.

“It’s incredibly good to see how many municipalities are interested in getting more life into their town centres. The plan was for 10 towns to be selected but there were so many good projects that we agreed on 14 towns,” she said.