2 September 2019
An aspiring entrepreneur who enrolled in Business at USC Sunshine Coast six months after finishing high school in Sweden has networked with highly-successful global executives and politicians at the European Innovation Academy (EIA) in Portugal.
Carin Erikson, 21, of Parrearra, said attending the three-week EIA program in Cascai, west of Lisbon, was a wonderful experience in the final semester of her USC Bachelor of International Business, majoring in Entrepreneurship.
The EIA’s 2019 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Summer Schools, in partnership with Google, University of California Berkeley and Stanford University, were held recently in Portugal, Italy and Hong Kong.
More than 500 applicants from 80 nationalities worked in small teams to create startup companies in 15 days, participating in workshops with top tech speakers and mentoring by investors.
“I found my passion for entrepreneurship after enrolling in International Business at USC in early 2017 and attending the EIA this year has been a big learning opportunity,” Carin said.
“I pitched my business idea on the first day of the event and a team of five formed around my idea of a digital tool to link small businesses with student freelancers. I was the CEO.
“We worked on market validation and investor pitches with real venture capitalists and angel investors, and listened to speakers from Microsoft, Google and Adobe and a motivational speech from the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.”
Carin said the chance to practise her management skills in such a realistic environment was invaluable, given that she will soon finish her USC degree and seek a business career.
“I made so many friends and overcame a few challenges. Because I was the CEO, I had to do the investor pitch. I was scared but I nailed it.
“My goal is to start my own business and although it may be a long, hard journey, I feel well prepared by USC and the EIA.”
During her degree, Carin participated in Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast and interned for seven months at USC’s Innovation Centre with a sunscreen applicator company called Bakslap.
Another USC International Business student, Johannes Kellner, attended the recent EIA school in Turin, Italy, and was excited to be part of the winning team. He has since returned to his home country of Germany.
USC’s International Business academic Dr Saskia de Klerk and Entrepreneurship academic Dr Retha De Villiers Scheepers said they hoped there would be more students from USC attending the EIA schools overseas in 2020.