The Entrepreneurial Challenge-Mendoza

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Last friday, May 19th I was one of the juries of «The Entrepreneurial Challenge», the final activity of an international program of the Faculty of Economical Sciences (Uncuyo) with Belmont University (Nashville, United States). This challenge involved the presentation of a business plan by three groups, formed by students from US and Mendoza, mixed. Therefore, it was in english, which meant an extra effort for local students, some of them talked it with profficiency, some struggled, but managed

The local director of the program Verónica Linares giving certificats to students

This was a new experience for me, and I was pretty excited about it because around 2008 I was in the same place as the students I was evaluating were: I went through a business challenge (I was one of the three finalists of Endeavor experience in Mendoza, the first one). This time, I had to give feedback in english and punctutate teams. Besides the entertaining part it kept me thinking about so many things and contrasts between entrepreneurship and science. For example: the times of presenting an idea. In this challenge, participants had 10 minutes to pitch the idea! It was so fast, at least for me, I’d been used to listen presentations of more than 30 minutes to 1 hour In fact, my comments were: “I think you went too fast on this slide”, but maybe is my age now, lol. Think about it: my dissertation defense took 45 minutes plus questions from the committee.

Also, students had to follow certain guidelines besides the financial or profitable one, such as viability, creativity, contribution to society CSR (Corporate Social responsability, etc.). The winner team, «Momentos» (translated as moments) was a photobooth for wineries, and it was the most doable even though it wasn’t super duper crazy. In times of social media, printing a photo might seem useless, but it product (a card or álbum) actually, it’s a great gift, and more practical for planes than wine or chocolate. My feedback was towards making them understand that they could actually charge for the pdf version of a photo to send via email (hey, i payed 1000 pesos in Bariloche for those who had the monopoly at Cerro Campanario). So, I don’t want to make this too long, and tell everything that happened there, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how they would benefit for the knowledge of every aspect that social sciences are researching about entrepreneurship The critical tone might be excesive towards entrepreneurs and the tech sector, but some point quite be beneficial for them, and inversely, some social scientists have never been close to how technology and business are actually made in order to recognize real value.

Also, there’s nothing more exciting than watching young students making an effort, having curiosity and interest in what can they do in their future, specially in this province and in this doomed country. It is such a petty that here entrepreneurship means neoliberalism, and science means anticapitalist adoctrination. But this “siloed” way in which business and science work is not only due to Argentina’s “grieta” (division or polarization). But this seems to happen everywhere, it is a trend, because we are now seeing different aspects and effects of new businesses. For instance, the technology industry went from having the best reputation, to be seen now as one of the guilties of almost everything in our societies. And the logic of entrepreneurship, risk taking and profitability, as well. However, this shows a strong need of interdisciplinarity and seeing this phenomena with different lens in order to really understand its advantages and pitfalls. In academy, we can see a lot of this trend now, for example, a very fresh interdisciplinary college at the University of Berkeley, College of Computing, Data and Society. This is not new, but this kind of colleges and research centers are emerging in other universities as well In their Instagram profile the University was celebrating this new achievement, while a couple of users asked: “Why that name?” , and even one asked: “why society?”. It is clear that the tools with which we build new things for society (computing, startups) need to address problems and specificities of that society

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