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Pitch Nights as a tool to strengthen entrepreneurial networks

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Written by Dunja Buchhaupt, Project Manager at Youth Business Germany

Starting out in 2016, the Youth Business Germany (YBG) programme provides scholarships to entrepreneurs between 18 and 35 years old. These scholarships help young people to acquire entrepreneurial know-how and support in building up their own company. YBG is a member of Youth Business Europe , YBI’s regional programme, supported by the Citi Foundation as part of its “Pathways to Progress” initiative. This enables us to provide youth with opportunities that enable them to realise their entrepreneurial potential.

A crucial component of our scholarships is matching an entrepreneur with a voluntary mentor. We quickly noticed that it requires more than trust and closeness between a mentor and mentee in order to foster well-functioning mentorship and entrepreneurial programmes. The “bigger picture” matters immensely as well - we can only enjoy the real value of a network if we are able to establish authentic relationships between the YBG team, mentors, partners and supporters, current scholars and YBG alumni. Therefore, we began trying different ways to connect all participants and make them exchange ideas and content regularly.

One of our magical recipes for creating strong connections among all mentors and entrepreneurs became the “YBG Pitch Night”. The ingredients are simple: invite all your mentors, local partners, entrepreneurs and everyone who is interested in joining. Afterwards, select up to 10 entrepreneurs to present their business in an elevator or finance pitch, depending on the stage of the business. Then, let the rest of the participants give feedback evaluating the pitch. The addition of music, snacks and drinks after the program help to perpertuate an environment for collaboration and discussion. 

The YBG Pitch Night takes place several times a year and allows everyone to come and enjoy a great evening full of entrepreneurial spirit, stories and inspiration. Our mentors, among them several from Citi, enjoy these evenings, as they serve as an opportunity to connect with our entrepreneurs.

In December we hosted our last YBG Pitch Night of 2018. To make the event a little more special, a YBG entrepreneur had the opportunity to share his story. Lorenzo Scibetta, a Speaker and Coach, presented his new song in front of the whole YBG group, which is about what’s it like to be an entrepreneur and create something new. Afterwards, he was interviewed by Maxine Schiffmann, the Mentoring Manager at YBG, and shared his experiences and the challenges of creating his own business. Consequently, the Pitches and Feedback Session started, enabling mentors and entrepreneurs to interact, exchange and learn from each other.

Our scholarship programme has gained a lot of value by adding social events like the YBG Pitch Night. It has become a fantastic opportunity for potential mentors or entrepreneurs to get to know the programme and the people who are involved. Moreover, we use these kinds of events to thank our active mentors and hand out Mentoring Awards for their voluntary work and wonderful engagement.

We are extremely proud of our achievements over the last two years and a half and the strong community we have established since then. For this reason, next time when visiting Germany, we encourage you to join our next YBG Pitch Night to find out more about our work supporting young entrepreneurs across the country.

 Dirk Luenzer, Managing Director of YBG, said:

 “Our scholarship programme has everything a strong family needs: there is support and advice in times of doubt and struggle. There are people who understand your motivations and share your vision; and the hours spent together while eating, discussing and developing a business are the moments that will stay with you forever”.

 





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