Frontpage News 2014 Interview with the...

Interview with the winners of the Danish EBG final

3 July 2014

They did not believe it themselves, that something so simple as a small plastic thing helping weak people tighten their shoelaces could win the Danish final of the European Business Games.

When Sidsel Dahl Knudsen, Thomas S. Elkjær Hansen and Nikolai Hyldgaard Thomsen were presented with EBG on Midtfyns Gymnasium (upper secondary school on the island of Funen), they found it a fun project, which was something different from the everyday theory based tuition.

At first, they had not even considered making an actual product. Instead, as many of the other EBG groups, they worked with ideas within IT such as Apps and websites.
’’In reality, we were a little sceptical of our product from the beginning of the process, and we really did not believe, that something so simple would be able to compete with the modern Apps and new technologies that continue to be developed today. However, mostly though market analyses and dialogue with potential buyers, we have been confirmed in the fact that our product is realisable,’’ explains the three students, who are currently on their way to Italy, where they are to participate in the European EBG finals.
How long did it take you to come up with the final idea of EasyLock? 
‘’We actually spent quite a while on ending up with our final idea. In addi-tion to the product development during the process of EBG, we had also, before we reached the right model, worked with many other different ways to solve the problem which our final product does. We considered many different products along the way. The process of finding a product took us at least a couple of hours where we talked back and forth. Moreover, we have, since the first drawing and right up to the final 3D printed model, repeatedly changed and improved product. "
How was it to get out of the classroom?  
"We have been in contact with several operators in our field, and we have both received positive and negative feedback on the product. We have even been told that it was not a good idea and that it would not sell. But it has only strengthened our product, since it has forced us to improve it. People have been very helpful, and it has been very informing to talk to those who work with products like ours in real life. It has taught us to think like the business community, and has reminded us of all the challenges we can meet along the way. "
How did the EBG process run in your group, were there a lot of ups and downs or did it all go smoothly from start to finish?  
"For a long time, we were much divided on whether our idea could be used for something, and we have repeatedly discussed whether we should put it away and start on something else. Some of us were initially not very positive about the idea, but it has only made us more self-critical, and it certainly helped improve our project throughout the process. We have several times met resistance, both in relation to the product, but also in relation to accounting and pricing, which we had to work our way through. So it certainly has not been an easy process, but it has been an experience trying to work with a product as realistically as we have done.


What we have learned from EBG

When asked directly about what they have gained from being part of EBG, Sidsel, Thomas and Nikolai are not in doubt. It is easier to understand the theory when you also have the opportunity to work with it in a practical context. In addition, they argue that working with EBG has given them a better understanding of the business community, a great deal of knowledge about entrepreneurship and the many factors that come into play when you have to manage a business and bring a product to the market.
Have the experiences from EBG caused you to consider becoming entrepreneurs and starting your own businesses?  
"Yes, we have all thought about going that way. It is very exciting to see what you can get from an idea, and what it takes to start a business. It is a very exciting world, which we could imagine ourselves to be a part of at some point. Whether it is as economists or product designers, we do not know. "
Do you feel that the EBG process has prepared you to become entrepreneurs? 
"Definitely! We have gained an understanding of how many things you have to take into account if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur. We had probably never really thought of how many things you have to take into consideration if you want to start up a business or the options available for help and inspiration. The process of EBG has definitely helped us to better cope with the start-up of a business."
Would you recommend other students to participate in EBG?  
"Yes, if you want to try your hand at entrepreneurship and business, EBG is a really good way to gain insight into the world. You must be prepared to be pushed back and be presented with new challenges. But it is a really good and fun way to get a greater understanding of and knowledge about business. And it is especially exciting to challenge yourself, and discover how to work and act in a team. "
What about Easy Lock, will you continue with the idea and try to get it realised? 
"We obviously hope that the product will be realised, because we can now see how many people will benefit from it. But we are not currently able to start up the business, as we will be located in different parts of the world in the next few years. Therefore, we hope that there is someone with capital and the right drive that might help us get the product out on the market, so that people can benefit from it. "
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