An experience of an extremely steep learning curve, an enormous amount of coffee ingestion and sleep deprivation, and incredible personal growth. An experience of an extremely steep learning curve, an enormous amount of coffee ingestion and sleep deprivation, and incredible personal growth.
When I first stepped into the Estoril Congress Center to start my journey at the European Innovation Academy (EIA), I did not know what to expect. Was I going to find a good team? Were the speakers going to fulfill my expectations? Was it going to be just like any other three weeks of my life, which I would forget within a few months? Was I going to build a successful business, or simply “play” with the idea? I did not know. I only knew my expectations were high, and I was excited about what was going to happen, the people I would meet, and the knowledge I were to acquire.
However, what I encountered at EIA was by far, more rewarding than I ever imagined. During the most intense weeks of my life, where we worked over 12 hours every day, I met invaluable people, learned to take myself to new limits, and had one-on-one conversations with some of the brightest minds in the world. I learned to work hand by hand with people I had never met before, I learned to trust them, and most importantly, I learned to trust myself, and everything I am capable of doing.
Along with people from all over the world, all of them with different backgrounds and abilities, we were instructed on how to go “from an idea to a tech start-up in 15 days”. What did that mean? It meant we had to push ourselves. Drink several coffees a day. Eat more takeout pizza and Chinese food than ever before. Learn to delegate and be open-minded. Absorb as much information as possible. Understand and listen to our teammates.
Nevertheless, we were not alone. We had outstanding lectures every morning, industry specialists every afternoon, and dedicated mentors helping us around the clock to make sure we were on the right path. To both my excitement and surprise, my team reached the Top 10 startups of the program and we pitched our idea to several investors and Venture Capitalists, people who challenged us and encouraged us to move forward. And although the path is still unclear for us, we all returned home with the satisfaction that we became stronger, grew personally and professionally, and that the network of incredible people we made during EIA will be one to last forever.
Natalia Pineda Uribe