With the financial crisis in full swing, where can you go to see challenges transformed into business ideas? And practice entrepreneurship as a way to prepare for your profession? At “Young Founders,” of course – a nationwide, online contest held by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The Steinbeis Foundation has lent its support to the initiative for years.
Now in its sixth year (the 08/09 school year), the “Young Founders” competition has broken another record. This time, nearly 4500 participants had plenty of fun learning business administration skills in a virtual setting and demonstrating what capable entrepreneurs they were. Last year, nearly 3300 students participated.
The team of Theresa Albrecht, Julia Beck, Theresa Eger, Yeliz Akkus, Matthias Oberbauer and Mathias Fromberger won first place in last year’s competition and, sponsored by the Steinbeis Foundation, recently embarked on a trip to Silicon Valley.
Group chaperon Dr. Nils Högsdal greeted the team with a hearty “Welcome to San Francisco!” upon its arrival in the US. The trip began with an excursion to Oakland.
On the way, the team made a stop in the TESLA showroom. Based on the design of a British sports car, TESLA produces lithiumion battery-operated electric vehicles that make you feel like you’re in a roadster – but without the liquid fuel. The team then visited the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. Exhibits there trace the path of technical innovation from early days and the high hopes of the eighteenth century right up to today. One innovation that laid the foundation for Silicon Valley to become what it is today? The computer.
The next day, the team followed the footsteps of some of the world’s most high-profile criminals at Alcatraz – they were kept on the island penitentiary years ago. Then it was on to the San Francisco’s famed Chinatown as well as a bohemian district that transports visitors back to the wild 1970s. Next stop: Stanford University and Jajah, a Silicon Valley- based company that paved the way for people to use the Internet to call each other all over the world for mere pennies. While there, the team spoke with Frederik Hermann (Director of Global Marketing) about emerging trends in telecommunications. The young founders also visited the in-house museum of one of California’s high-tech powerhouses: Intel, the chip manufacturer. And while at DETECON, a technology consultancy, the team met with a representative to discuss the latest in technology.
The trip wound its way through Santa Monica and Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, where the team saw the celebrated Walk of Fame and wondered at the cliff-set letters of the Hollywood Sign from a nearby outlook. The trip ended memorably with an excursion to the VW Design Center, where the group was treated to plenty of insight on upcoming automotive design studies and spent time chatting with the designers about “the cars of tomorrow and beyond.”