Kera Cheney finished the eLab Complete program, starting in Berlin and finishing in London. During this time, she co-founded her business Aphy with her brother and they are working together on producing a CBD based medication to help reduce inflammation, pain, and recovery time for injuries sustained by amateur athletes.
Why did you choose eLab?
I’ve always been interested in starting my own business because I feel like it gives you more freedom to do what you want to do and you’re not restricted, I never knew how to make this a reality though. I had studied abroad with CIEE when I was in college and then got an email from them and saw this new program for entrepreneurship and decided it was exactly what I needed.
What did you initially expect?
I expected to be given opportunities for networking and meeting people that would push my business and product to the next level, which was available to me while on the program, plus there were a lot of good resources and advice. These networking opportunities also brought together lots of different people in other industries besides my own which was really interesting.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the course itself. I didn’t know they offered business modeling, design thinking and impact studies, so I felt that it was all really valuable knowledge. I already knew most of the theory on business models, but the impact and design thinking courses were totally new to me and really cool to learn.
Did this course help you prepare for your career? (Confidence, ideas, etc.)
Yes. I came here with an idea but I was unsure of how to go about it and what the next steps were. eLab helped me build a foundation to further my business goals. It gave me resources and opportunities to reach out to people, including investors, to help keep everything moving forward.
I’ve been able to build this company out of my idea and now I even have a finished prototype! It finally feels like I’m actually moving forward now instead of feeling stuck and I’m looking forward to continuing to evolve the project while in London. Also, it was good that whenever I had a problem and started to get frustrated, I could change my perspective with the help of others from different backgrounds than myself, so I enjoyed the very valuable diverse team backgrounds.
What did you enjoy most about this program?
It’s a double-edged sword, a love-hate relationship, but public speaking. I personally hate public speaking, but when you’re pushed to repeatedly pitch it really helped me learn how useful a skill this is, especially when it comes to pitching. Even though it’s a bit scary, it was good to put myself out there, plus it was one of the most rewarding experiences and it really helped build my confidence.
How did eLab help you with your business goals and needs?
I had a lot of different opportunities that I was presented with that I didn’t have before I came to eLab. I met a former participant who was working in agriculture and I was very interested in collaborating with them. One of the instructors even got in touch with their husband who works in the pharmaceutical industry and the final pitch judge talked to me about how he has connections with a big CBD company that is coming to Germany.
All of these connections are extremely valuable to me because the pharmaceutical and medical cannabis industry is extremely difficult to get into. All of these connections and networking have helped to propel me forward.
What was your biggest takeaway from the program?
It’s hard to pick just one because there are so many and all in different categories!
Giving me the confidence to pitch my idea was definitely a big one. I was very nervous to pitch my idea, even to classmates because it seemed so controversial, which made me feel uncomfortable. As the weeks passed I became more comfortable and confident with my business thanks to the help, support, and teachings of the instructors, coaches, and my peers.
The networking resources were also really valuable for me. I didn’t know how to get access to the right networking events in the US, but Berlin screams entrepreneurship. It was a great environment to get involved in that I didn’t have the opportunity or ability to find back home.
Coaching and teamwork building also really helped me and brought things to my attention that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered. Honestly, the whole program offers a well-rounded approach.
Would you recommend eLab to aspiring entrepreneurs? If so, why?
Yes and you can read the above for the why. The way the program is designed is very fast-paced, which means it propels you forward quickly. If you take advantage of everything offered here, then you can take your company fairly far, but if you don’t put in the effort, then you won’t get anywhere. If you’re really serious about starting a business, then you have access to all of the opportunities, resources, and networking events/connections that you need here.
Any final thoughts on this experience and the start of your entrepreneurial journey?
When I first came here I wasn’t sure whether this was going to work or not. It was just an idea inside my head with no prototype to show. While on the program I learned that an entrepreneur is not gonna succeed the very first time, they’ll fail, but then they get back up and try again. You have to expect to fall and get back up again. Just keep trying. This was really helpful advice.
Also, in the beginning, I was always asking myself: Is this really realistic? Am I out of my league? This program gave me more confidence to push the limits and move forward. I now think it’s realistic and I know that I just need to push hard and work hard to make it a reality. I have to take any negative or constructive feedback I get and learn from it, but I also know that I shouldn’t try to completely change myself or my business just because one person says no.
I felt really successful during my last week here in Berlin because we were working really hard on the prototype and we were even able to get it finished! At eLab, everyone was openly collaborating together and we all wanted to see each other succeed. It was nice to have a supportive community and it feels like there is just a really good vibe here.
Ready to start your business, but don't know how to move things forward? Well, eLab is here to help! Check out our Programs page to see how we can fast track you towards the path to success.