Learn to foster and develop an entrepreneurial spirit, prepare for the future using the "learning by doing" method and inspire, innovate, create... These are the key phrases and words which embody the entrepreneurial education programme of the Jonk Entrepreneuren Luxembourg association which is already part of the curriculum in several schools. We spoke to Stephanie Damgé, the director, about the association’s programmes and values, and we showcase four companies that were created at school and grew into successful companies.
SOVI Solutions S.à.r.l.
SOVI Solutions S.à r.l. was created in 2019 by Alessio Weber and Gianluca Marinelli. The company's main activity involves developing software enabling people with specific needs, in particular with regard to communication, to express themselves in their everyday environment. Talkii is a downloadable app available via the Google Play Store, and a communication tool which is custom-made, pre-configured and distributed by the company. They also offer training courses to familiarise the persons supporting the user with the "alternative and advanced communication" of the program. These courses are vital to identify the individual needs of each user and, subsequently, to customise the options in Talkii.
After winning the final of the "Young Enterprise Project" in 2018, the young entrepreneurs signed up for several other competitions for startups, in particular the Impuls competition organised by Nyuko, Fit 4 Start and StartupsVsCovid19 organised by Luxinnovation and the Ministry of the Economy. At present, SOVI Solutions has about fifty clients at national level and is in the process of forging international connections.
It is vital to integrate Talkii into schools declares Gianluca Marinelli. People with communication difficulties can access their communication tool at any time (Talkii Tab). Also, it is essential to properly train the teaching personnel, parents and speech therapists who configure the tool according to individual needs via the configuration telephone (Talkii Supervisor).
As a result of the experience gathered over the past few years, the founders of SOVI Solutions have decided to assist and advise the winners of the "YEP" project in order to fully prepare them for the European final. They will help them to anticipate the questions regularly asked by the jury and give them concrete tips on how to win the competition.
Gianluca Marinelli: "The composition of the team is one of the key issues when launching a startup. It is important to be aware of one's strengths (soft skills & hard skills), as well as those of the team. Being an entrepreneur is an ever-changing role. You have to remain open to change, learn and perfect your skills and never believe that you have achieved your objective. Identifying a problem and solving it with a product or service is a winning formula. I bet everyone has had a really good idea but that's just the start of the process! Above all, it's the approach and your level of commitment on a daily basis that counts when creating the concept".
Neon Marketing Technology
Neon Marketing Technology is a hybrid company which combines marketing and communication services with the latest technological advances. The company is based on three pillars: a communication and media consulting agency, a toolbox in online marketing and an e-learning platform.
Neon's ecosystem has little in common with the former mini-enterprise with which Michel Strotz was involved during secondary school. He was the director of the mini-enterprise StyFly, a traditional advertising agency which produced business cards, flyers and other printed material. Today, he is the only member of the team who is still working in the field of communication, an industry which has changed immensely since then: 12 years ago, digital marketing barely existed and the term "social network" had just been coined.
The mini-enterprise allowed him to learn a great deal about the creative market, the demands of clients in the communications sector and the various dynamics of a team. He was able to acquire professional skills which remain useful to this day. Having gained self-confidence, the young entrepreneur was convinced that he could launch any creative company successfully. Moreover, his IT studies supplemented his broad range of skills. He has programmed several of his own social networks, experimenting with programs such as Depixit, a platform for transforming and encrypting images into pixel grids and Nightler, an app for night owls and travellers. He had a clear objective: to launch a new company, which he finally achieved in 2018 together with Karim Youssef, the co-founder.
At present, Michel Strotz provides assistance to Jonk Entrepreneuren by offering training and additional support to young people, in the form of sponsoring and other types of educational gifts. For him personally, the mini-enterprises programme was one of the most important experiences of his school career. He believes that it is essential to offer genuine experiences to young people in addition to standard education.
Michel Strotz: "When you're young, you're ambitious but inexperienced, and you risk getting insufficient support from people in your immediate environment. During this period, in my opinion, it is very important not to listen too much to your parents, teachers or friends, as they probably did not have the courage or the motivation to launch their own project. If someone has a good idea or is inspired to do something special, it is the best to do it when you are young and at university. Sometimes, this will be your only chance to get out there and experience things that are essential to your development."
Brainplug is a communication agency located in Colmar-Berg. Michel Logeling founded the company with his friend Jérôme Houdremont in February 2018. The agency essentially offers services in the field of content creation and digital media. In a digital world, the services offered help Brainplug's clients form closer ties with their customers. This bond is created by fostering empathy and embracing human behaviour and placing them at the heart of strategic marketing research.
Michel Logeling gained his first experience as an entrepreneur at the age of 17 in secondary school, during the mini-enterprise lessons taught by the Jonk Entrepreneuren association Luxembourg. Their group, a company with 13 pupils, developed a card game to play "Konter a Matt", a traditional pastime in Luxembourg. Their goal was to revive this tradition in Luxembourg, especially amongst younger generations. With their product, the young entrepreneurs impressed the jury and they won the first prize at the national competition of mini-enterprises.
This programme finally gave them a taste for entrepreneurship. Michel Logeling discovered his passion for communication and audiovisual content creation. During his university studies in Strasbourg, he founded a marketing agency, Brainplug and his still works there today!
In his opinion, the advantage of this educational project is above all its tangibility. Without a doubt, it was the first class in secondary school which gave him the liberty to express his creativity and enabled him to see the actual tangible result of his work. Also, these programmes, in contrast to many other classes, nurture skills such group work, creativity and problem solving. As an Alumni, he tries to stay in contact with the association and gets actively involved as often as possible in their programmes, either as a coach or speaker in classrooms.
Michel Logeling: "I take a great deal of joy from watching the development of pupils' projects. I would advise every pupil to take an interest in the programmes offered by Jonk Entrepreneuren and to get involved. The most important factor is to use the opportunity to turn your ideas into reality and develop a project with a clear objective. You gain a huge amount of experience and skills that you don't learn in the regular curriculum."
The FrëschKëscht adventure began in 2019, when seven students created a mini-enterprise as part of the Jonk Entrepreneuren programme with the goal of doing something positive for the environment and local economy. To achieve this goal, they decided to sell boxes filled with seasonal fruit, vegetables and other delicacies, 100% made in Luxembourg. Clients have the option to collect their FrëschKëscht each week in Steinsel or to have it delivered to their doorstep.
In July 2020, the small company was awarded the best mini-enterprise of the year and its founders decided to continue to pursue their goal. Thus, they transformed their student project into an independent company. Ever since, they have continued to sell their boxes, created with utmost care, and to develop their commercial activity. At the same time, they are continuing with their studies.
Gaïa Costadura, co-founder and head of the marketing department, believes the strength of mini-enterprises is, above all, about putting the theory into practice. In secondary school, pupils learn about the concept of economics but it is the mini-enterprise that enables them to discover the world of entrepreneurship from a practical and experimental perspective. The project also taught her to step outside her comfort zone, and made her realise that dreams can really become a reality if you work hard enough and if you believe in yourself. In order to pass on their experience to future entrepreneurs, they remain in contact with the Jonk Entrepreneuren association. For example, during the award ceremony of the final of the mini-enterprises 2021, Ivo Silva et Gaïa Costadura were invited on stage to share their experiences.
Gaïa Costadura: "My biggest piece of advice is to be yourself, stay true to your beliefs and, above all, believe in yourself! Two years ago, if someone would have told me that at 18 years of age, I would start my own business with four other young people, I would never have believed them. But, here I am! In my opinion, there is so much potential in each one of us that you shouldn't be afraid to use it. Just go for it and believe in yourself!"