Hubcelerator of Impact Hub
There is one part of my education I am terribly grateful for and that is Hubcelerator.
Just what is Hubcelerator exactly? It’s a business incubation program from Impact Hub that happens yearly (this year they have reached the fifth edition in Bucharest and the first one in Cluj). It lasts for a little more than two months and it helps entrepreneurs test, develop and grow their businesses through specialized lectures, practical and interactive exercises, brainstorming sessions, etc.
It all sounds very dry, maybe a bit pompous, like something you’d read in a brochure about a business school, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not, because behind Hubcelerator there is a cool team who acts as a family. The people are laid back, patient, helpful and … well … cool.
I have spent eight years in gymnasium, four in high-school, five in the university and four as a PhD student; plus another year or so enrolled in numerous other courses. But after all that I still believe that the two and a half months at Hubcelerator have been, by far, the most enriching.
After giving up aerospace engineering in Germany, I came back to Bucharest with big plans. I wanted to find my place. Eight months had passed and nothing. Finally, in August 2015 I had started a mind numbing job in a corporation, a compromise way too many talented people make these days in Romania.
Observing the eating habits of some of my colleague at lunch, I realised there is room for improvement. The idea was to combine the needs of nutritious tasty food of corporatists, like myself, with the spare time grannies have. Yes, you read correctly – grannies; retired elderly women who cook anyway because, well … it’s a lifestyle for most of them. Or so I thought, thinking about some of the grandmothers I know.
This is how Carroș was born – a foodie project with a social twist, if you will.
I heard about Hubcelerator on Facebook, I submitted my proposal, got interviewed and accepted.
The Hubcelerator experience
From the beginning on I had promised myself I will be conscientious and go religiously to all the courses. I’ve always been a nerd, but this was more than that. This was coming out of my comfort zone. Entrepreneurship means having balls. At Hubcelerator, they call it “being a superhero”, but I say is “having balls”. And this is not something I have been known for, especially in an unfamiliar territory. Hence the promise to myself.
There were around 15 projects in Hubcelerator 2015. Some of them more established than others. Some entrepreneurs more confident than others.
Over two months we had all kinds of courses that would help any person who wants to start a new business: accounting, legal stuff, branding, social media, business planning and strategy, pitching – and these are just from the top of my head, the list is much longer.
No matter the stage of our projects, we were walked through all the steps necessary to launch a business. That’s the first time I heard about a business plan and actually made one. That’s when I first learned to do market research and conducted some myself. That’s also when I thought I can learn something about accounting, but I am hopeless. I even flirted with crowdfunding.
All efforts culminated with a pitching session. At the end of Hubcelerator we presented our business ideas in front of investors. I don’t know how many of us struck gold, but the pitch definitely was for realz. The only time I was so nervous was when I had my engineering diploma presentation.
What was I left with?
No, Carroș never made it on the market. Personal reasons. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have enough money to start a fully equipped kitchen. The dog ate my homework. But none of these reasons had anything to do with Hubcelerator.
Funnily enough, almost everything I learned there I am applying now. Social media, market research, business planning and marketing, the way a business can be tackled in order to be understood and communicated to the consumers.
I am a copy/webwriter now.
More than that, Hubcelerator didn’t just provide the necessary information for starting a business. It also provided the support. The debates, practical exercises, advices, brainstorming sessions – they were all part of the process, if not, the most important part of the process. It’s crucial to get feedback on ideas, especially if you are new at something. And what is also important is the way this feedback is given. We were all friends, trying to help each other, expressing constructive opinions.
Which brings me to the next point.
The real value I got from Hubcelerator 2015
There are at least four successful stories from the 2015 edition of Hubcelerator. 2016 was a good year as well and I can only hope they had such a nice gang like we did in 2015.
Even now, two years later, after I moved abroad, we still meet, have beer and chat about our endeavours. We have a Facebook group we sometimes use for feedback on things. We support each other with advices and good vibes. Hell, I even changed my dentist after I went to Hubcelerator.
One important non-business lesson I learned is that in order to succeed at something you have to do, beside knowledge, hard work and all that, is to surround yourself with the right kind of people. And that was my biggest achievement with Hubcelerator.
So yeah, practical advice and friends, what the hell would you want more from school?
PS – The picture is taken at Atelier Pinion in august 2016, the gang’s usual meeting place. The usual suspects from the left: Olivia, Flavia, Ioana, Marius, Andreea, Nicu, Adrian, Caty, myself and Rusanda. Some crazies are missing … Andreea B, Radu 🙁 …