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HSUP: Build a startup from scratch

Innovation

Júlia Sohajda, the co-founder of Vespucci Partners venture capital fund and Krisztián Kölkedi, the founder of the Hungarian Startup University Program (HSUP) were guests at Hibrid Startupper, Spirit FM’s entertainment radio show where the conversation is centered around innovation, ideas for the future and potential investment opportunities. This time listeners were introduced to a program that wants to introduce university students to the world of startups while they are taking part in their studies, as well as motivate students from different universities and majors to create their own startups.

The Hungarian Startup University Program is the first online university startup program in Hungary. It was created with the goal of introducing university students in Hungary to the world of innovation, modern entrepreneurial skills, and how startups work, all through a shared educational platform with interactive, entertaining material and personalized content, so that students can learn at their own pace. As was stated by the co-founder of Budapest based venture capital fund, Vespucci Partners the program now includes universities from the Carpathian Basin and Hungarian Universities. This means that through a two-semester e-learning course, students in the region can learn how to build a startup from scratch (the course starts as a university subject, meaning students will receive credit for completing HSUP).

The idea itself as a startup initiative

As mentioned during the radio show, the people that implemented the idea conducted surveys at multiple locations, the results of which indicate that almost 80% of young adults are interested in startups, but only 20% have any knowledge on the subject. The younger generation is keen on starting their own businesses but because of a lack of financial resources, only a few have the means to do so. After analyzing the sector, they came to the conclusion that although there are some specialized programs on the subject, they do not have a generalized approach.

The first semester of HSUP focuses on innovative thinking methods and an introduction to the world of startups. During the second semester, students will receive practical knowledge on how to build up a startup. If all this wasn’t enough - if students successfully complete the first semester and continue with the course in the second semester -, students will receive an HSUP scholarship which entails 150.000 Forint a month. To successfully complete the course at the end of the second semester, the first working variation of an idea must be demonstrated. To help with this task, students will receive aid from the teachers at the university and entrepreneurs from Hungarian startups who take on a mentorship role. So far, nearly 500 students have received the scholarship, and some received investments or took part in an incubation program.

Educational material that can be expanded with personalized content

As stated on the program’s website, the program begins by completing a test, based on which you will receive a recommendation regarding which role to complete the course in. The four roles are CEO (chief executive officer), CTO (chief technology officer), project manager, and designer. The complete course material can be expanded with personalized content based on the role you choose. In addition, students can receive experience points when studying and can thus track their progress. Community approach is also rewarded in addition to personal development as those who actively cooperate will receive community points. A ranking system will be implemented based on experience points in which you can view your own performance and the performance of other universities as well, which means that students will not only compete with each other, but also contribute to their university’s rank.

HSUP strengthens the entirety of the startup ecosystem

“The program is important not only for us as a venture capital fund but also for investors as the program provides the opportunity for more startups to introduce themselves. The HSUP program comprises the ecosystem of innovation, universities, and students. Students participating in the course will learn a method of thinking that will allow them to internalize the fact that starting your own business is indeed possible," said Júlia Sohajda, who as the managing partner of Vespucci Partners listened to 10 projects in January out of which they now offer four startups mentoring services.

Krisztián Kölkedi: There were some brilliant ideas

According to Krisztián Kölkedi, the founder of the Hungarian Startup University Program, there were several projects where they came up with brilliant solutions. “One such project recycles plastic waste and makes 3D printer material from it, a second is making “hangover-free” beer, a third is developing a veterinarian solution while a fourth is designing an innovative shopping cart with which you can pay without having to queue up. There was also a project that wanted to digitize in the area of metalworking. - said Krisztián Kölkedi.

The HSUP program is still open to companies for application. Thousands of students will work to find effective solutions to existing needs and problems through the “partner challenge” service. This new option makes it possible for companies to reach out to thousands of students with their problem and in line with the principles of HSUP, support the team and solution they choose with a scholarship of up to 3.000.000 Forint, mentorship and any extra services, thus creating a type of MEGA think-tank that contributes significantly towards the supply of Hungarian incubator programs.

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