Supporting Brazilian students who want to study abroad by providing information and services to reduce barriers.
Interview with Jessica of "Idee"
Interview with Jessica of “Idee”
Moving to Germany to study is a big step for young foreigners. To facilitate this, information and guidance should be easily accessible, something that "Idee" wants to provide.
We talked to Jessica Szendzielorz, student of the study course International Relations in the second semester at Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences about her start-up “Idee”. She is part of a start-up team out of five members from different universities and backgrounds, that won the Gründerstipendium NRW in 2023. We asked Jessica about their start-up journey, the merger of the initially two start-ups/ideas and what they have planned for the near future.
StartGlocal: How did you come up with the idea of "Idee"?
Jessica: It started during the pandemic when many people, including myself, began exploring new projects, hobbies since everything was still uncertain. However, the desire to bring this idea to life had been brewing within me for quite some time. It all began even before coming to Germany. I realized there was a huge challenge to find appropriate information to study in Germany. And besides the relatively low cost of attending a German university, two significant obstacles stood in the way: learning the German language and the requirement of a blocked account for foreign students, which currently is approximately 11.208 euros per year to cover living expenses.
Motivated by my own experience, together with my best friend we thought, "Why not assist other students who will embark on the same journey as us? By sharing our knowledge and experiences, we can make their path smoother." Initially, our idea was basically sharing information on YouTube. However, as we delved deeper into the project, we spent nearly two years in leadership positions within AIESEC, an organization that provided valuable insight into how real organizations operate. This experience changed our perspective and made us think a bit outside the box on how we can develop our project on something sustainable, helpful, and also innovative.
StartGlocal: What exactly is "Idee"?
Jessica: "Idee'' represents the power of creativity and determination to inspire meaningful transformations within small ideas. It serves as a reminder to explore different perspectives, harness potential, and take action to create positive change in the world.
At Idee, we are a group of five young students with the mission to transform the Brazilian education system. Our goal is to provide equal opportunities for students to study abroad, irrespective of their financial or social backgrounds. We strongly believe that education should be accessible to everyone, as it forms the fundamental pillar of our society.
StartGlocal: How did you find/get to know each other as a team?
Jessica: Forming our team was quite fortunate, as everything fell into place smoothly. Initially, my best friend and I were already passionate about our idea, so we decided to work on it together. However, doing university, work, and the project became overwhelming, and we needed extra help. We tried collaborating with two different people briefly, but it didn't work out due to everyone's busy schedules and joining the project at an early stage.
Fortunately, after a few months, we connected with three like-minded individuals online. They had similar educational backgrounds and a product targeting the same audience. We had several meetings to align our goals and discuss plans, which led us to decide to team up. Although the beginning was a bit challenging and required adjustments, it was definitely worth it.
StartGlocal: What kind of support do/did you receive?
Jessica: We initially started out completely on our own but as we progressed with our project, we realized the importance of seeking guidance from experienced people in navigating the startup world. During my time in Münster, we got consultations with the TAFH, which provided valuable insights into the start-up ecosystem in Germany. We dedicated significant effort to developing our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) at the beginning of last year.
After moving to Kleve, I reached out to StartGlocal for insights on enhancing our business plan and pitch. Christina from StartGlocal became a motivating force who believed in our idea, especially during the skeptical early stages. I received valuable feedback on my pitch during my first pre-pitch at Startplatz Köln, and I took it to heart, spending two weeks refining the pitch for the actual presentation.
Currently, as we progress through the NRW Gründerstipendium process, we receive support from the team at Startplatz. This journey has taught me the significance of having a supportive network. Going it alone is challenging, and having a strong support system has made a significant difference for us.
StartGlocal: Where are you now, and what are the next steps?
Jessica: For now, we have successfully developed and tested our MVP, built a strong audience base, and gained recognition through participation in renowned incubators and competitions. Our website is in place, and we have a dedicated team. Looking ahead, our next steps involve enhancing our website, targeting marketing efforts towards universities to attract more international students, and establishing strategic partnerships with universities and companies. Additionally, we prioritize team building and management for continued growth. Overall, we are excited about our progress and the opportunities ahead.
StartGlocal: Thank you for the insights, Jessica. StartGlocal wishes you and your team all the best for the future! We are already very excited about what will happen next.