After months of hard work, yesterday finally the day had come: the day of our Conference - the grand final of the Entrepreneurship Avenue event series. Under normal circumstances, we would have expected over 1000 visitors yesterday on the WU premises but as we all know, things are not normal at the moment.
In March, the entire EA organization team had planned to visit a conference in Switzerland, which was also organized by students. Two weeks before the event, the news reached us, that it had to be canceled due to Covid-19 and strict regulations for public events in Switzerland. We felt very sorry for the many students who had worked so hard for months and then everything was in vain.
At this point in time we had no idea what extent everything would reach and that the same fate would threaten us. Over the following weeks, however, it became increasingly clear that Covid-19 was not a guest who would only be in our lives for a short time. We knew we had to (re)act - immediately. We threw all plans for our event series, which was already pretty perfectly planned, overboard and came up with a completely new format within 2 weeks. We didn't want to cancel the Entrepreneurship Avenue. We wanted to make it bigger and more international than all the years before.
Due to Covid-19, the entire event series had to be digitalized. But this did not detract from popularity among students. 35 teams from 9 countries participated in the whole Lab series including Idea Presentation, Mentoring, Pitch Training and our Demo Day.
The pinnacle of our event series was the Conference, where more than 2500 visitors experienced an afternoon full of inspiring keynotes and panel discussions from and with speakers from the Austrian and international startup scene on 4 stages, a startup fair and corporate fair, workshops, a job chat with startups and well-known companies and a lot of networking opportunities.
One of the highlights was the Pitch Award, where Epiclay was able to prevail with a modular solution for greening walls, just before C:aire, who pursue the mission of a new process for cleaning air using biotechnology. QuestEd was able to win the audience voting (in which more than 1700 people participated) with its idea to provide software and hardware to schools to engage students through gamification.
The organizing team, consisting only of students, was overwhelmed by the lively interest of the audience. Some weeks ago, we never would have thought that it is possible to reorganize such an event at this scale within this short period of time.
We learned one more time that giving up is never an option and with an amazing team a lot is possible. We are already looking forward to new challenges!
Text: Isabella Egger