“They are trying to make improvements, but of course they are quite slow for my generation”, Vice President of JADE Victor Soto on another Sting Exclusive

Victor Soto, Vice President of JADE and Director of External Elections is interviewed by Carlo Motta at the Sting's pavilion at EBS 2014

Victor Soto, Vice President of JADE and Director of External Elections is interviewed by Carlo Motta at the Sting’s pavilion at EBS 2014

This revealing exclusive interview with Victor Soto, Vice President of JADE and Director of External Relations, was conducted by Carlo Motta at the European Sting’s pavilion during European Business Summit 2014. In the following interview Carlo Motta will be signalled as C.M and Mr Soto as V.S..   CM: We are pleased to welcome among us Mr Victor Soto, Vice President of JADE and Director of External Relations. V.S.: Thank you Carlo for the invitation and for the kind introduction. I am the representative of external relations for JADE, the European Confederations of Junior Enterprises. For many people that don’t know or are not familiar with the concept, JADE represents the network of entrepreneur students in 13 European countries, who run their own enterprises while at university. We promote the learning by doing concept, that young people should go for this inspiration, in order to develop their necessary skills, the relevant skills, and also be able to develop the entrepreneurial mindset that European needs so desperately. CM: Thank you for this introduction about what you do and who you are. So, given that JADE is an international organisation, I would like your insights on how developed is youth entrepreneurship in Europe compared to other parts of the world. Basically we would like to hear something from you about the differences between the US market and the European one among the young entrepreneurs. V.S.: From my experience the junior enterprise concept started in France, as filling a gap in our educational systems at the universities. Students are based on the way that there is not enough space for inspirational learning. Here to be able to bridge that gap, the gap between the experience the students need to develop and also the network to be able to contact, those businesses. And to be able to apply all those concepts that we learn in university. So compared to the US I think here we are very far away. In the US when you go to universities very much all the projects are practical and also you find out that many universities promote young people to be able to set their own enterprises. So you have people around 21-22, so actually when they graduate they have their own spinoff and actually they would have one or two failures. And they are ready to actually go and set up the business that will rocket. That is something that there is not in Europe; I think it is something that is taking off; entrepreneurship in education is becoming more adapted, it is been also promoted more by the European Commission, but again there is a lot of gaps. A lot of universities, which are sticking to the old ways so they are not so receptive of changes on the curricula. Also you have the challenges of having to retrain the teachers, because you cannot be taught entrepreneurship by someone that has not been an entrepreneur himself. So, there is one challenge there. The European Commission is doing efforts to solve this problem, but they are very long term. And I think here when we started the Junior Entrepresises concept a few years ago, students want to create this short term solutions. These are bottom up organisations, run by students, and at the end of the day, if there is going to be someone that is going to create the solution for youth unemployment, the youth entrepreneurship, it should be youth at the center driving this solution. C.M.: Do you think that the policy with young promising entrepreneurs is enough up to date in the EU and how exactly do you believe that this can be improved by JADE? V.S.: JADE is there to promote the entrepreneurial spirit, the entrepreneurial mindset. We see ourselves in a chain of entrepreneurship education. So you have other initiatives, like Junior Achievement in secondary school. Then you see at the university what students do. And we see the Junior Enterprises one of the best practices for students to be able to develop this entrepreneurial spirit and then of course we move on to what happens after you have moved to the university. So there are few initiatives like spinoff universities. Some of them are focused on having entrepreneurship in the curricula, having entrepreneurship courses to be able to support, for the networks to bring the mentors to the university. So by the time you finish actually, you come up with your startup yourself. However, still there is need for a better network, better network of mentors compared to the US at least, there is a better network of investments; so better investors coming to the universities could actually find those students with ideas that only need the seed money to be able to take those off. So I would say mainly the network for mentorship and the network of finance. C.M.: Also I would like to say, and this is quite a personal comment but maybe you will agree with that, it is not so even in the European markets. I think that in some countries, especially in the south, it’s still quite hard to get to your own startup in a few steps. And you need a lot of bureaucracy, you need a lot of confirmations and maybe expenses to be able to do it. Do you agree with this? V.S.: Yes I completely agree. I think that they are trying to make improvements, but of course they are quite slow for my generation. But I do see an expansion of networks, of entrepreneurial networks. Thanks to the internet, thanks to these global organisations, then there is a better opportunity for countries in the east for instance to learn from those networks that are taking place in London or Portugal. So these networks through the internet are also allowing for the learning process to give access to tools. That is something that has taken off, slowly but surely. C.M.: Is JADE addressed only to students or also to graduates? At what age you follow these people? Until what time do you say this is our business or this is not our business any longer? V.S.: The junior enterprises are run by active students. So as long as you study at the university; it doesn’t matter if you are doing your masters or your PhD, you can be a part of a junior enterprise. Normally this in terms of hierarchy you depend one year as a junior trainee and you move on to managerial and to president. So you have many stages of learning. I think that is the most important thing. And you will always have people that will be ahead of you so to teach you what they have gone through. The fear of failure is one of the main things that we are trying to target through our concept, because you do have to be able to go through this process to learn. So afterwards once a person has finished his university, he can go represent the national movement or he can go and join JADE. Myself I used to be a managing director of my Junior Enterprise in London and I had the opportunity to apply for the executive board in Brussels, and now relocate for one year. And of course after here I will keep promoting entrepreneurship. C.M.: Our readers would like to hear from you about one or a few suggestions you could give to young enterpreneurs. How to move? How to behave? V.S.: The most important thing is your network. We normally face all the time that we do not have a budget, we do not have enough money, there is not enough finance, but again as long as you can build a network, and then every person you meet is potentially someone that can support you. In your idea you never know how it is gonna be but networking is something very necessary for a young entrepreneur to be able to set up and get his business to grow. –

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