By: Francis Adereti – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2016.
It was an awesome feeling when I was selected to be one of the 8 participants (out of over 300 applicants) to attend the SE Outreach Accelerator in Stockholm, Sweden. My 18 hour flight from Lagos, Nigeria to Arlanda, Sweden was full of excitement and trepidation. I had such high expectations for the trip – meeting and mixing with other participants from various parts of the world, touring one of the most beautiful cities in the world (Stockholm) and most importantly, expectations about the programme itself.
On arriving to Arlanda airport, I was welcomed in a very frosty way by the very cold weather. Svitlana (one of the programme coordinators) was holding a placard and had a hug ready for us (yes, us, two of us came over from my country). The second person from my country, Tosin, is an amazing lady that runs an organization that empowers women by converting Trash to Treasure, literally. Imagine!
We had a scenic ride to the apartment we were allotted to. Later that weekend, I met with Fikile (from South Africa), Joyce (from Uganda), Anja (from Malaysia), Sibjan (from Nepal), Derrick (from Uganda) and Luciana (from Brazil). All wonderful people with very fantastic ideas that they are working on. I knew we had a lot to learn from each other.
The next day Annabel, one of the programme coordinators, took us on a tour round Stockholm. From the Royal Dramatic Theater, to the Old town in Stockholm, to the old Parliament House, to Stockholm Palace, to the Stockholm City Hall (home of the Nobel Prize banquet). So many amazing places, my eyes got so big with wonder. Even more amazing though, were the sprawls of old and classy structures in the city, extremely organized transport system and, funny enough, the guard that always stand in front of the palace (come snow come shine!). I have never seen a city as beautiful and organized as Stockholm.
The whole of the first week was spent in a town called Sigtuna. Lena Ramfelt, a lecturer at Stanford University (who was our Lead Trainer for the programme) taught us about the core of having a business opportunity, that is, understanding the pain, painkiller and the customers. I also got to understand the concept of storytelling – how to make a proper presentation.
One of the high points of the week was my meeting with students of Sigtunaskolan Humanistiska Läroverket (SSHL) and my discussion with them about what Social Entrepreneurship is, using Redbank as a model. Oh, and Redbank is my health solution. It’s a platform that connects hospitals with blood banks and blood donors. The students gave very good suggestions and inputs. I was amazed at how smart and knowledgeable they were.
The following weekend, we visited the home to Scandinavia’s largest cathedral and the oldest center of higher education in Scandinavia – Uppsala! The Architectural design of the 119m cathedral blew my mind (I am still trying to piece them together). I wonder how the Architects came up with such design and how they made it stand, ingenious!! The University of Uppsala’s library is the largest I have ever seen and that is saying a lot. There’s no way you’ll study in such a library and not assimilate! The credit goes to Svitlana and Dani (an MSc. student at Uppsala University) for playing the role of a gracious host, taking us round all these places and explaining the history of each one of them as much as they could, a tour guide could not have done a better job.
Our next week in Stockholm, we went to Impact Hub. Lena, showed me how I can improve my Business Model i.e. make money out of the service I am rendering (through the proper understanding of the pain and the pain killer concept I had learnt initially). I was able to identify non-paying customers as paying customers through the additional value I will be creating for them.
Ruth, one of our instructors, helped me understand what “Impact” actually entails and how to measure it. The one-on-one session I had with her helped me apply the complexity of “Impact and Impact measurement” to my business. The second week also saw us present at the “SE Outreach 2016 – Stories from Around the Globe”. I was able to meet with people from the community who suggested great ideas and features I can add to the platform we are building. I also met with people who scheduled appointments with me to take me round various blood banks in Sweden so I can experience and understand how their blood banking system works. It was all a very rewarding experience for me, professionally.
The following week, I visited 2 blood blood banks in Stockholm, one at Hötorget station (with Simon from Impact Hub) and the other at Danderyds sjukhus hospital (with Monica from Stockholm). I was able to experience the blood donation process in Sweden and also acquired new ideas about what we can add to the platform to make the blood banking system in my country as functional as the one in Sweden. I also visited one of the largest and most prestigious medical hospitals in the world – the Karolinska Institutet – to meet with one of the programme’s business heads to discuss about the technical aspects of my solution.
I can honestly say, my three weeks in Stockholm were some of the best and most rewarding weeks in my life. I believe the objectives of the first part of the programme were fulfilled through me. The city of Stockholm was immersive, the people, the culture, the architecture are some of the things I will never forget. The equality culture in the city made me rethink a lot of my own ideas (in a good way, I might
add). I made several lifelong friendships, interacted with different individuals from different cultures, schools of thought and learned a great deal from them. Business-wise, my startup benefited so much from all the intense business sessions, the one-on-one mentoring and the several interactive sessions. I came back brimming with new ideas and the knowledge to implement them.
Special thanks to our hosts for making a young man from a city in Africa feel welcome in a city halfway across the world. You all made our experience meaningful. I can’t wait to come back to Stockholm for the second part of the programme. But before September, when I’ll be going back, here are the 4 goals I want to achieve:
- Finalize my pricing model and define a pricing point for my customers (based on the parameters I am to find out)
- Secure new partnerships with organisations that’ll help increase my revenue and sustain my customer’s delight
- Design and Implement new features for the platform… and also
- Learn some Swedish language 🙂