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Venture Club Münster (VCM) is a non-profit association devoted to the topic of entrepreneurship. What makes it unique is the fact that it is not only initiated but also run by a group of dedicated students who believed Münster universities alone were not sufficiently addressing the topic of entrepreneurship. The aim of the club is, therefore, to activate the entrepreneurial potential of students in the region by organizing a wide variety of events that bring together students, experts, accomplished entrepreneurs, and other relevant stakeholders.
How does the VCM promote entrepreneurship?
VCM promotes the topic of entrepreneurship by organizing a number of events out of which two take place on a more regular basis: ‘Let’s Talk’ speeches and Workshops.
Let’s Talk speeches are organized as a 2-3 hours’ event, where entrepreneurs from corporations or start-ups share their stories with an audience. At the end of the speech, the audience will be given a chance to ask questions. The events are normally open to anyone interested in participate. The objective is to inspire participants to embark on an entrepreneurial journey.
The workshops, on the other hand, address more specific aspects of entrepreneurship. Moreover, the number of participants is limited to a maximum of 30 people. The workshops are normally divided into two parts: mentoring and action. The mentoring phase familiarizes participants with the technical aspects of the topic of interest, while the action phase gives them the chance to put what they have learned into practice.
In order to facilitate the smooth running of its events, VCM follows a standard procedure consisting of four steps. The first step is defining the general theme of its events. Here an attempt is made to develop a theme that is not only interesting but also broad enough to attract a diverse audience. Secondly, a suitable expert/entrepreneur is invited to speak at the event. Once the speaker has expressed his/her willingness and availability, the VCM teamwork on the practical details of the event, such as scheduling, advertising, sponsorships, and catering arrangement. Lastly, at the end of every event, feedback is collected from both the speakers and participants, and is used as an input to consistently improve the quality of subsequent events.
How is the VCM organized?
The VCM does not receive any financial support, neither from the universities in Münster or from the government. Rather, it is funded by membership fees from its student-members and sponsorship from external organizations. Currently, VCM has around 150 active members who collaboratively work to handle the various tasks associated with hosting an event (from advertisement to arranging food and drinks). Once a student joins the VCM as a member, he is allocated to one of its six departments (HR, IT, Finance and Law, Sponsors & Relations, Marketing and Operations). Here, an attempt is made to find a good fit between the student’s field of study and the department they work for.
Positive impact for the region and for VCM team members
Although difficult to quantify, it is fair to say that the activities of VCM are positively contributing to increasing entrepreneurship awareness in the Münster region. Additionally, participants and other stakeholders not only get inspired to start their own business but also acquaint themselves with relevant principles of entrepreneurship. Also, the entrepreneurs giving speeches as well as the corporate sponsors use the events as a platform to promote their businesses.
Last but not least, according to VCM’s CEO Friedrich Grimm, perhaps the main beneficiaries of this initiative are VCM members themselves, who get a chance to put the knowledge they acquired from their field of studies into practice as well as gain a range of relevant competences associated with organizing large events (teamwork, raising funds, and conforming to legal requirements). As Mr Grimm put, by being part of the VCM one is also an entrepreneur.
This article is based on a case study originally written by Andre Perusso (Münster University of Applied Sciences), developed as part of the WEXHE Project.