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2016-12-15

Future businesses grow here

Students at Halmstad University are very interested in starting their own business. When the University student incubator in November invited external lecturers to give students professional advice on how to make their business dreams come true, many wanted to listen.

– We had hardly opened the registration until the course was full, says student coach Mikaela Hellström.

The students are familiar with the environment and take their places in the chairs in front of the projector screen. It is the third and final occasion in the incubator’s 'start your own business course'. The first topic for the afternoon is patents. The students take out their notebooks, listen and ask well thought-out questions. It does not take long until the discussion is under way and you can see that the students have a great interest in business.

About 20 students joined in on each course occasion.

The student incubator is, just as the name implies, a place where the students’ business ideas get a chance to grow. Although the course itself is in Swedish, the student incubator helps both Swedish and international students.

– We begin with a so-called coaching meeting that is booked by the student, during which we work according to known business models focusing on the client. The main goal here is to discover possible problems with the business idea early on. The student receives assignments and then we book a new meeting, talk about the assignments and give the student new ones and so on. This way, the student continuously moves forward, says Mikaela Hellström.

Student coach Mikaela Hellström would like teachers to make educational visits at the student incubator with their students. ”We want to make use of the students’ project assignments so they do not just leave the good ideas behind when they get their grades.”

”Starting a business is not difficult”

Every course occasion is based on two external lecturers who talk about certain fields in business: idea and the importance of getting to know the customer, marketing and packaging of a product or service, social media, economy, patent with trademark and sale.

– Many students have the view that it is difficult to start their own business and that they need to know a lot beforehand. We hope that the students feel more secure and dare to try their ideas after this course, says Mikaela Hellström.

She herself has an education in Project Management and has started and run two companies. She emphasises that the most important thing is to have the courage to try – not that the first project succeeds.

A change of environment is a good thing

Together with her colleague, Sandra Johannesson, Mikaela Hellström also works for the municipality of Halmstad’s incubator Highfive. She says that the creative setting initially surprised several of the students taking the course. Many expected a typical, confined lecture hall with dull walls and uncomfortable chairs.

That is not the case on the second and third floor in the Trade center building, where the two incubators are located. Here students and non-students get access to an office space within the colorful walls and floors and become part of a large network of entrepreneurs.

– It is important for the students to be in a different environment compared to the usual premises at the University, at home in the student flat or at their parents’ house. This becomes their work space and here they are doing nothing but working with their ideas, says Mikaela Hellström.

Karolina Olsson thought that the lecture on social media was especially interesting. ”For example I did not know that you can specify your target group and that you can see statistics on how many people the posts you publish reach.”

Karolina Olsson studies at Halmstad University and takes individual courses. She is one of 20 students taking this business course at the student incubator and she is pleased with what she has learned.

– I do not have a fixed business idea yet, but I think I have learned a bit about how business works and where you can turn in different matters, she says.

A business idea is not necessary

Mikaela Hellström points out that you should not let the fact that you don't have a business idea stop you – you don't actually need one.

– If you are clever and want to know how to start a business, you belong at the student incubator. If you don't have your own idea, you can always join in on someone else’s.

”I like the fact that you get a glimpse of how businesses work. It is inspiring to hear what others who are in the business world think and to get a professional point of view on what you need to know and think about when you first start”, says Marcus Sahlman.

Former professional football player, Marcus Sahlman, studies the Construction and Real Estate Business Programme at Halmstad University. He would prefer to start his own business someday.

– I am interested in economy and think that it was interesting listening to an accountant talking about his line of work with such great commitment. I would consider working as an accountant, but my dream is to manage properties.

Mikaela Hellström is more than satisfied with the outcome of the course and is already planning a similar setup this upcoming spring.

– We have come in contact with several students who also wanted to take the course. We want as many as possible to have the option to join the course, she comments the plans.

Text and photo: EMELY NIEMI JONSSON

Facts: The student incubator at Halmstad University

Re-opened September 16, 2016.

HH Innovation AB (part of the University's holding company) is the owner but the student incubator operates on behalf of Halmstad University.

Shares premises and cooperates with the municipality of Halmstad’s incubator Highfive, which gives the students access to a large network of entrepreneurs.

Two student coaches, Mikaela Hellström och Sandra Johannesson, guide students who want to start their own business. Both coaches also work for Highfive.

The students have access to the student incubator during their studies plus three months after.

Updated 2016-12-15