Get set to involve yourself in the next big startup

A new seminar series will help CBS alumni thinking about getting involved in one of the hundreds of startups working away each year in Denmark’s largest incubator, Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship (CSE).


Photo: Bjarke MacCarthy

By: Mikala Gyllinge and Jakob Vesterager

How can alumni go about becoming an investor? How do you make your skills available? How do you find the right startup and how should you manage the fine print when deciding on a specific investment opportunity?

Find the answers during a seminar series focusing on what it means to be an investor and how you as an alumnus can become involved in a startup. During the seminars you will participate in a pitch event in which startups ready to make the leap to hit it big internationally make a pitch for potential investors – including perhaps you!

- We hope that the seminars will arouse broad interest among alumni to invest in or be a mentor for a startup. You don’t have to be a millionaire, serial entrepreneur or professional investor - or business angel as they are also called. Perhaps as an alumnus you have knowledge or experience you would like to pass on, either as a mentor or by investing your services in a startup. Or perhaps you’re looking for an alternative way to invest your money in something with more of a purpose than bank bonds, explains CSE Project Manager Dorthea Haldrup Nielsen.

Ideas turned into success at CSE
Each year more than 500 ideas are tested in Denmark’s largest incubator and startup environment for entrepreneurial students: Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship (CSE) at CBS. More than fifty percent of these young entrepreneurs achieve success with their startups, which are helped along not only by their good ideas and enthusiasm but also by CSE, mentors and investors. Since CSE’s inception in 2007 its startups have generated USD 33 m in financing achieving revenue totalling USD 98 m.

One of the ideas is the startup REC Watches, which sells unique timepieces crafted from used car parts. Many people are familiar with REC Watches from the Danish equivalent of The Dragon’s Den, where entrepreneurs get the opportunity to present their business ideas to some of Denmark’s most successful business figures, called dragons.

Be part of the success as an investor
Good ideas and elbow grease are just some of the ingredients that lead to success as a startup. Investors bring startups the equally important factors of experience and resources to the table in exchange for a percentage of ownership. The investor’s role, though, is not limited to investing financially. You can also invest time and experience. No matter what you invest, working together requires a clear agreement between the parties. The seminars will provide insight from the experiences of seasoned investors and point out legal issues you should be aware of.
Pass on your experience as mentor
You can also get involved by becoming a mentor for a startup by passing on your experience more informally. As a CBS alumnus you have professional knowledge and practical experience that can be brought into play concerning the specific challenges startups face, for example, how to sell their product and market it online or how to hire employees.

CSE has a network of more than 50 volunteer mentors associated with one or more startups. Mentors meet with their mentees four to a dozen times while the startup is part of CSE. During the seminars you learn to be a mentor and gain insight into the mentor’s role and the challenges mentors face.

Alumni can be of critical importance
The Scottish University of Strathclyde has had great success in creating entrepreneurship among its students, which has led to numerous highly successful companies. Professor Jonathan Levie, director of Teaching and Knowledge Exchange at the university’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, has found that alumni add essential aspects to startups, stating:

- Alumni have the contacts and the experience, which is incredibly valuable for startups. If, for example, they can provide knowledge about a specific market or a part of the business, it may just well be what makes the company successful.

Levie continues:

- It also represents a great opportunity for experienced alumni to contribute to a new, fresh project, consequently becoming part of all the excitement a budding company entails. Alumni have an incredible amount to pass on to startups – and in my experience, they also enjoy participating and being able to give something back.

Registering for the seminar series
The seminars provide a way for CBS to activate and involve its alumni meaningfully to create value via investment earnings, but also professionally and personally.

Seminar participants will:

-    Be introduced to how to get involved in a startup
-    Have the chance to work up close with new, innovative talent and perhaps the next big successful startup
-    Acquire new knowledge and have the opportunity to develop personal and professional competencies
-    Have the opportunity to pass on their experience to students with good ideas
-    Gain access to a network of others interested in entrepreneurship

Preliminary dates for the upcoming seminars (updated January 2016):

23 February 2016: How to invest in a startup. With Business Owner Christian Stadil among others (confirmed)
10 March 2016: Finding the right startup – from the beginning
30 March 2016: Pitch event at CSE Investor Day at CBS
7 April 2016: Invest your time and talent in a startup
28 April 2016: Reading the fine print once the startup is identified

Registration for the individual seminars will be possible as soon as the detailed programmes are made public. 

Sign up for more information about the seminars when they open for registration

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact Dorthea Haldrup Nielsen, Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship or Mikala Gyllinge, CBS Alumni.

Sidst opdateret: Alumni // 17/12/2017