August 24 2018
I recently attended the GTE Innovation Challenge program in Japan. It was truly an unforgettable experience. For 5 days, all of the participants took classes about marketing, business, finance and teamwork. In those 5 days, we were also assigned to a team and worked on a business plan together in order to present it at the end of the week. Throughout this experience I realized how much thought and work must go into a successful plan. From day 1, we tried out multiple activities and games in which we created business ideas in less than 30 minutes. Using methods such as the “lean business model canvas” we evaluated different companies such as Netflix and AirBnb in order to have a real world view of business. Our goal was to create a company or a product that followed the lean business model canvas. We wanted to be able to produce more value at a lesser cost. This would guarantee that our company could grow and be competitive in whatever industry it was a part of.
Each team was very competent. Of course, we all experienced some difficulties. In a team everyone should have responsibility. In my team, I was assigned as a CEO. We came up with Undo, a sports equipment rental and delivery service. We wanted to create a service which could help athletes and sports enthusiasts by reducing equipment costs. It was refreshing to be able to be a part of a program where everyone was incredibly motivated and so were the professors and assistants. Everyday, we worked on our startup ideas until 10 pm. Refining, adding on and changing our plan. It was like a simulation of what it would be like to create a real company. Towards the end of the program we started to feel a bit more pressure as we knew that the contest was arriving but everyone made sure to encourage each other despite not being teammates. The reason why everyone collaborated so well was because of how empathetic we all were. Since our business ideas mostly came from personal experiences, it was also fairly easy for us to determine our target markets. I personally really enjoyed the ideating process because every single activity allowed us to use our imagination and generate new ideas and product features for our service.
The last part of GTE was the presentation. This was the part that I was most excited for. For the last two days before the presentation, my team practiced endless times. We always made sure to comment on each others parts at the end to make sure we were speaking with the right tone, volume and body language. The final day, we all went to the presentation venue and presented our business ideas in front of various business owners. Although we were all extremely nervous, it was a great experience and we were able to gain a lot of insight through their questions and remarks. Following the presentations we held a small award ceremony to announce the winning team. Although my team did not win I am grateful that I received the Individual Award. Overall, I truly enjoyed my time at GTE. I am still surprised at how much I learnt in such a short amount of time and I would like to thank the staff and teachers for that.