When you live in the western world, it’s sometimes hard to understand what it means
to live in an emerging market. Until you get to visit one.
Recently I had the incredible opportunity to build and lead an entrepreneurial bootcamp for about 100 students in Albania. Luckily, I wasn’t alone. Managing a class that large on my own would have been a whole other challenge! 20 year-old Jordan Agolli, founder of the popular podcast called Teenage Entrepreneur was right there with me, as a shining example of all that you can achieve when you start young.
Two schools – one vocational program in Durres and a prep school in Tirana – served as hosts to us and large classes of aspiring entrepreneurs. The most profound takeaways? Here are 5 of my top:
1. There is a ton of opportunity for entrepreneurs in emerging markets to develop and deliver new products and services.
2. As good as any entrepreneurship classes may be, there is no substitution for real experience bringing a product or service to market. All else is conceptual.
3. Sometimes, getting to proof of concept (vs. full scale launch), is a good enough goal. Proving that a business idea is viable and financially sustainable is a strong early milestone.
4. Students are hungry for opportunities to grow, work, collaborate and travel. Finding projects to partner on, even abroad, is an excellent way to bridge the gaps and build wonderful new relationships.
5. Exposure and context are everything. Sometime we all just need to step out of our comfort zone, and hear and see what’s really possible to build confidence around who we are, what we’re capable of, and how far we can go.
There’s so much more to share, but let me just close out by saying these students were beyond incredible. We wish we’d had more time to spend getting to know them, learn about their ideas, mentor them, and solicit their help in sculpting the new offerings for upcoming programs.