I’m Silvia from Caparica, Portugal and I’d like to talk about the amazing experience I have had with eLab London and eLab Berlin. Although my business won’t be based in London, England’s capital is an incredibly inspiring place with every possible resource available including training, mentoring, access to investment and working spaces and it was fantastic to be able to spend time there.
“Inspirational, formative, sometimes overwhelming, and very rich”.
My career so far has been in architecture with a focus on sustainability. I’m currently Project Manager for the Water & Habitat Department of the Internacional Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Prior to this, I spent a year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working on a field mission for the ICRC where I managed a team of Congolese engineers in building water wells to provide vital clean drinking water to the remote villages. This kind of work is incredibly important to me and I have been involved in a number of humanitarian projects in Myanmar and Central Africa.
The start up
Although I have always enjoyed my current work, I’ve always dreamt of opening my own guest house by the sea in the South-Lisbon region. As well as providing a fabulous place to stay for visitors, the guest house will be very much based around an ecological and social philosophy. I believe that ecology and social justice can contribute positively to economical wellbeing and, that a profitable business can contribute positively to the environment and to society. I want to successfully combine the three elements in one business idea.
Although my work so far has delivered many valuable experiences, I felt that I did not have the business knowledge or background to fulfil my dream. I wanted to learn how to create, test, implement and manage a successful business from scratch at the same time as gaining an insight into entrepreneurship, business ideation, marketing and finance. I was looking for a hands-on approach to learning and eLab’s courses definitely fitted the bill. As an added bonus, I was able to enroll in the eLab Complete course which meant that I got to spend time in London for the eLab Emerge course then I was off to beautiful Berlin for the eLab Advance course. Not only were these courses the perfect solution for me but, I got to spend time in both of these amazing cities.
eLab plays a huge role in connecting participants to opportunities; During the course we visited incubators and accelerators, co-working spaces and successful start ups. We also got to chat closely with entrepreneurs, CEO's and knowledgeable professionals in the business world from whom we learned how to develop our business from idea to investment readiness, and prepare a "killer" pitch deck.
One of the best parts of the eLab course was the amazing, open minded and knowledgeable people with whom I shared these past 12 weeks. The eLab staff (awesome job, guys!), the facilitators (inspiring people!!) and the program colleagues, have all massively contributed to expanding my horizons, refreshing my ideas and ultimately, making me a better business founder and manager.
For anybody who is confused about the many different options out there, I would highly recommend eLab. The course helped me to filter the information required for my business as well as teaching me to learn from others - and from my own mistakes. The mentoring from professionals has been invaluable; particularly in showing me how to create a framework which clarifies the road map for my entrepreneurial journey. From the training, mentoring and common sense knowledge I’ve received from my eLab course, I now feel ready to embark on what, I’m sure, will be the adventure of a lifetime.
Armed with what I’ve learned at eLab, I now plan to purchase the farm for my guest house within the next six months. I will set up the guest house and apply for a grant to install the ecological features and recruit my staff. I hope to be open for business within the next 12 months and, within five years, the guest house, farm and restaurant will be run by a small but efficient team of professionals - leaving me free to pursue my next dream! Ready to leave the 9 to 5 behind? eLab programs have helped hundreds of people realise their dreams and achieve the freedom of running their own business. Find out more here