Did you know that Maastricht was occupied by pirates once? You don’t have to go back that long in history and luckily it weren’t real pirates either. The annual entrepreneurship Pirate Week in Maastricht was held from 24-01 until 30-01 and turned out to be as amazing as promised. Unfortunately university deadlines prevented me from participating myself but luckily I was fortunate enough to drop by now and then to get a taste of it.
The concept of the Pirate Week is to bring young entrepreneurs together and work on their ideas from 9am until very late for seven days in a row. It goes as follows. In total, 30 people participate from which ten have an idea to develop, ten have technical skills and ten people have the creativity and knowledge to market and polish the image of the project. Teams are formed and during the week, these teams are guided by experts in the field. They receive training, workshops, lectures and personal talks. All in order to help them in developing their idea and pitch it at the end of the week for real investors who can provide them with start capital.
I attended the Pirate Week on Tuesday when they received a workshop explaining the business model and how to apply it on the projects. I immediately noticed the passion as teams were taking advantage of every minute to work on their projects. The heavy debates in some groups also showed the involvement of every group member.
After seven days of hard work, it is time to go to Campus Chemelot, located on an industrial park outside Maastricht, to present their ideas in front of ‘real’ business men.
The projects pitched varied from making sure you have the right shoe size when buying online to meeting the right people on events to a robotic arm which helps disabled people. All brilliant ideas and solutions to real problems, however, they did not win the first price. This honour went to Pales. Pales is a project that aims at reducing mortality among horses during birth. The project already won 10.000,- euro start capital at the Local Heroes Award 2014 and is now ready to take off with another 1st price. However, Sfitsy (shoe size solution) and City Quest (aiming to challenge tourists to discover a city interactively) receiving second and third place respectively, can both count on serious interest from the investors and might receive some start capital themselves.
After this week, which felt like a marathon for them, there was a mixture of emotions, there was excitement, happiness, relieve, satisfaction and of course disappointment of not winning the competition. However, as much as people were aiming to win, above all they had a great experience, formed teams with which they started to develop their ideas and only future can tell how successful they are going to be. One thing is for sure this week will last forever in their minds and I was happy that I occasionally be part of it!
More information on the Pirates: