Brand You: Build your legacy by choice not by chance! A review of the 5th edition of the Maastricht Week of Entrepreneurship

After a full year of preparations and five exciting days of exchanges and inspiration, the 5th edition of the Maastricht Week of Entrepreneurship (MeWeek) has come to an end.

A yearly initiative of the Maastricht Centre for Entrepreneurship, MeWeek brings together over 200 students and entrepreneurs for a stimulating programme featuring world-class speakers.

This year, under the theme “Brand You”, some of the programme highlights included speakers such as Paul Campbell, the Senior VP of Innovation from Philips, Michael Cawley, Ryanair’s COO and Fadi Bishara, the founder of Blackbox, a reputable incubator from Silicon Valley.

Michael Cawley, Ryanair’s COO

Promoting entrepreneurship

MeWeek 2013 started in full swing on May 14, with a startup fair, networking drinks and Entrepreneur Talks. Mieke Damsma, Maastricht’s Alderman of Education opened the Entrepreneur Talks by encouraging young people to pursue and develop their ideas. Jan Cobbenhagen, the founding director of the Maastricht Centre for Entrepreneurship, promoted the value of entrepreneurship while the keynote speakers of the day brought shared their insights on current developments in entrepreneurship and business .

Fadi Bishara, founder of Blackbox, gave a well-received keynote talk about founder-market fit. He was followed by Ryanair’ COO Michael Cawley who spoke about the business expertise he acquired over 30 years of practice and revealed Ryanair’s strategic advantages and business outlook.

Google workshop: Business Tools for Startups, by Andy Serdons

The next three days were structured around the same pattern of panel discussions in the morning, workshops in the afternoon and inspiring Entrepreneur Talks in the evening.

Additional activities took place on Friday, such as a Google workshop on Business Tools for Startups, a viewing of the popular “Startup Kids” documentary and a panel discussion on regional development. The day ended with some wine tasting at Thiessen Wine Shop.

Pitch your idea!

MeWeek also included Startups Pitches aimed to give young startup teams the possibility to share their concept with the wider audience within three minutes and receive feedback. For next year’s edition, the organizing team plans to expand the activity to a full day of pitches and involve investors as well as other organizations to judge the concepts and provide constructive input.

The final day was set aside for a few outstanding speakers who reiterated the messages that the participants had heard throughout the week: “You are good enough”; “Start your business around what you love doing most”; “Pick the right battles to fight”; “Create your own success stories”; “Don’t wait, do it!”

Ketan Makwana, founder on Enterprise Lab, candidly told the audience how he became a key leader in empowering UK’s youth after losing his job – a great example of how entrepreneurs always find a way to overcome obstacles and to shape the enviroment they live in.

Last but not least, MeWeek featured a three day workshop on Personal Branding and competency building which enabled participants to constructively think about who they are, what they love doing  and what competencies they need in order to make their life goals come true.

The MeWeek13 Organizing Team

Get involved!

The feedback from both participants and speakers was very positive. The organizing team is already working on putting together a new list of high quality speakers for MeWeek’14 and hopes to promote entrepreneurship to an even larger group people.

Events like MeWeek not only add to the cultural richness of the Maastricht region but are also very important for students who want to activate their entrepreneurial skills. An entrepreneurial mindset can help both professional and startup businesses.

MeWeek aims to get even more students and entrepreneurs involved in MeWeek 2014 and will reach out across the world to find the most inspiring speakers to guide the new generation of doers.

The Maastricht Centre for Entrepreneurship is working on several other events and activities to inspire and guide students through the initial stages of business creation. In August, two summer schools will be organized in collaboration with Startup Pirates: The Social Entrepreneurship Summer School, from 19-23 August and the Entrepreneurship Summer School from 26-30 August . November will see a new edition of the Global Week of Entrepreneurship in Maastricht, with an Entrepreneurship Conference and the second edition of the Local Heroes Business Plan Competition. Sponsored by the University Funds Limburg, the Local Heroes Competition will award € 10,000 in seed money to allow the winning team to develop their concept.

Thus, as one event ends, Maastricht can get ready for the next initiatives that will inspire and guide future entrepreneurs on their path towards success.

Stay updated on activities of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and get involved! There are many opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of!


By Ana Mihail

Ana Mihail is the President of the MeWeek Team and Chief Inspiration Officer at the Maastricht Centre for Entrepreneurship.


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