Road To Beijing: 5 business lessons from Enactus journey

And the winner is…

6 months ago I joined a team of students with an amazing idea to bridge the generational gap while meeting two needs in society — providing companionship for the elderly in society as well as affordable accommodation for matured students ready to give a helping hand.

The team — Enactus UCD. The idea — Generation Accommodation.

It has however gone from an idea to a running project, in fact, business already getting traction in Ireland with endless limitation since it is a very simple business model applicable almost anywhere and addresses two global problems.

No surprise Generation Accommodation went ahead to win the Enactus Ireland prize of representing the country at the world cup — attracting other national champions to Beijing, China in October.

In retrospect, here are my top 5 takeaways from the 6 months journey:


No resource is more valuable than people

Having joined a team that started with just 3 people, it was awesome to see it grow to 18. The lesson was not in the numbers but the value and talent and skill set that every member brought to the table — who they knew, what they said, the technical know-how, eye for design, and simple things as cheering others up and motivating the team.

It is really a fantastic team — 18 students from post graduate and undergraduate, 4 continents — Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America, 6 Countries, and backgrounds in Commerce, Engineering, Business, Management Consulting, Art, Arts, not forgetting our Board of Advisors from KPMG (Katey), IFG (David), Aurthur Cox, and Faculty Representative (Kathy).

One problem can be a solution for another

Generation accommodation proves the above. On one side the elderly living alone with loneliness and financial woes their top 2 concerns, and on the other side matured students looking for accommodation. Match this two and you have two problems solved as the student now offers companionship and extra income to the elderly while getting a roof and a chance to have social impact.

It would have been more complex looking for a solution first for the lonely elders in society, and then another for many students in Ireland with the problem of having a roof over their heads. These are two different issues that when put together offers a solution that is simple and sustainable.

To find out more about the project, join the Facebook and Twitter community.

Having a plan B can be detrimental

Of all the teams that presented in the final round of 4, it was only UCD that had one project to pitch. Others had 2 and even up to 3, which according to one of the judges made the evaluation process complicated for them and easy for us.

Like I also said in my post here (#3), avoid the temptation of juggling more than one ball because you end up splitting focus and resource ending up with half-baked outcomes. We had 1 team, 1 project, 1 focus, and we delivered a top-notch outcome.

Storytelling is the best form of marketing

Don’t pitch me bro! Rather tell me a story. Everyone loves a good story so I was not in a bit worried at our presentation at the Enactus Ireland finals. We had stories to tell — one of a lonely woman captured in an audio interview, and another of Patricia who was an embodiment of the solution we proposed.

Yes, numbers and forecast are cool. Tech is not a bad idea. Business models are needed if you are looking for funding. However it’s the story that brings any stakeholder to the table in the first place so get that right and you have yourself an audience for what comes next.

Team UCD announced winner of the Enactus Ireland competition.

Success is the biggest validation

Just like after Alex Keany and I were announced as winners of the Accenture Leaders of Tomorrow Award 2014, it is safe to conclude that success is the biggest validation for any venture. We had top level managers from Facebook, PaddyPower, Irish Times, Accenture, NDRC, and Brand Fire tell us our idea was the best. Booom!

Same with Generation Accommodation, the end totally justified the means, and like my dear leader, Aoife Buckley said in the Irish Times interview

Participating in Enactus has been a fantastic experience for the whole team and it is a great feeling to be acknowledged for the hard work we put in throughout the year.

We’re thrilled to present the continued success of our project, Generation Accommodation, on a global scale at the Enactus World Cup

For now we celebrate and then get back to work for we have only a few months left on this road to Beijing, China to represent Ireland at the Enactus World Cup.

Road to Beijing was first published on my Medium.



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