“Self-employment and entrepreneurship have fascinated me since my youth.”
She has been dreaming about having her own company for a long time: Now Laura won a start-up award during her semester abroad in Australia. The IUBH student, who studies International Event Management at the campus in Bad Honnef, and her team developed the “Readymealbox” – an inexpensive cooking box for foreign students.
My name is Laura and I am in the fifth semester of studying International Event Management at the IUBH campus in Bad Honnef. I was especially attracted by the international orientation of the university and the opportunity to spend a semester abroad. So, true to the motto “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”, I decided to leave my familiar surroundings and go to Australia for one semester.
The Australian way of life
Driven by my fascination for the country and by my Australia-crazy roommate, I applied for the IUBH High Achiever Programme and a chance to study in Melbourne, my dream destination. I was incredibly impressed by the scenery in Australia: it has everything from cities and oceans to beaches and mountains. I particularly appreciated the Australians’ openness and friendliness. The relaxed and casual lifestyle also appealed to me: the work-life balance is less important there than the beach or surf-life balance.
The “student feeling “at my Australian host university was completely different. Of course, our small campus in Bad Honnef is not comparable to the 35,000 students at Victoria University. More students also mean bigger classes and a less individual attention. However, since I didn’t only take event-specific courses, I got to meet a lot of great people from other fields of study and other countries.
An absolute highlight of my semester abroad was my participation – and indeed my success – in the Victoria University Academy Activator Programme. The programme took place for the first time that semester and is designed to teach students the basics of starting a business in eight weeks.
I was immediately enthusiastic, because self-employment and entrepreneurship have fascinated me since my youth. My parents are important role models for me because they work independently in various business sectors and are passionate about their profession. My interest in the start-up scene was intensified by Founders’ Day, an annual start-up event organized by and for students at the campus in Bad Honnef.
So it was only logical for me to take part in the VU Academy and enter the final pitch contest for 5,000 euros in start-up capital. My team and I convinced a jury of four representatives from industry with our “Readymealbox”, an idea that emerged during the VU Academy.
Start-up-Award for the “Readymealbox”
The Readymealbox enables international students to cook healthy, affordable and simple recipes. In a survey, we discovered that international students are often overwhelmed when they leave their home country for the first time and in terms of eating habits are confronted with new cultural situations. According to the respondents, limited budget, lack of motivation, lack of knowledge about healthy nutrition and lack of time are the biggest problems. The Readymealbox is intended to provide a solution to exactly these problems.
During the conceptual phase, we analysed the worldwide trend of “cooking boxes”. These turn out to be too expensive and too complicated for average students. The Readymealbox however impresses with simple, healthy recipes and its low price, making it a good alternative to fast food and unhealthy foods. In order to ensure a good cost-benefit ratio, we want to collaborate with local supermarkets, farms and suppliers, and with students of nutrition science or hotel management & logistics at Victoria University in Melbourne.
In Melbourne, my team members are working on the project together with our mentors. One or more Readymealbox(es) are expected to be tested in a pilot project this summer – with hopefully positive feedback from students.
Next step: graduate and gain experience with start-ups
For me, the next step is my bachelor’s thesis and hopefully successful completion of my bachelor’s degree in late summer. Then I plan to do one or two internships to gain work experience in the start-up sector. Afterwards I would like to earn a master’s degree in sustainability, project management and entrepreneurship. My big dream is definitely to become self-employed in the near future.