To those of you who signed up for Unipreneur but didn't show up on the day: thanks for the pizza. We used your unreturned deposits to make a huge order at Domino's, and it was tasty. I'd also like to extend my condolences, because you missed out on a massive learning experience and a really great week.
To the 25 of you who did make it, I think we can all agree that the event was a resounding success!
Unipreneur is the brainchild of Nikolay Piryankov, ME alumnus and founder of diamond retailer Diamonds In Africa. The idea of the event was to teach 25 ambitious students, in 6 days, everything they needed to know to start and run their own successful online business. The course was comprehensive, intensive and, apart from a refundable £20 deposit to make sure you actually showed up, completely free.
Topics covered included:
- Buying a domain and hosting
- Keyword research
- Landing pages
- Google Analytics
- Lean startup (all attendees were given a free copy of the book.)
- Google Apps
- Content creation
- Affiliate marketing
- PPC and Google Adwords
- And much more.
Don't let me take too much of the credit, because it belongs almost entirely to Nikolay, who really did an outstanding job and deserves a ton of credit for putting on such a great event. He really went out of his way to make Unipreneur an incredibly valuable experience for the participants, not to mention taking a week off from his own business to do so. Big thanks are in order.
Unipreneur originally appeared last academic year under the guise of "The 50 Day Challenge." The idea then was similar, but less intense, with sessions spread out over several weeks. In the 50DC, participants (including myself) attempted to create our own online businesses as we worked through The Challenge, a course by Australian Internet marketer Ed Dale, together. None of us had much success (although it worked out nicely for me as I ended up getting a job for Diamonds in Africa), but a lot was learned and the stage was set for a bigger and better event this year.
Some crucial changes were made: firstly, the course was much shorter and more intense, running all day for six days. Participants gave up lectures to attend, although they were allowed to sneak out briefly if they really had to. Secondly, rather than getting people to come up with their own business ideas (a major stumbling block in the 50DC), all participants would work on the same idea, each creating their own informational site about diamonds, aiming to make affiliate sales on DiamondsInAfrica.com. No-one did make a sale by the end of the week, but in fairness this was a pretty lofty goal. Still, the main aim of the event was not to make money but to learn, and everyone did learn a lot.
Other people who need thanking:
- Karlis Zilmanis for helping with the arrangements, and for the photography.
- Andres Mejia for giving up a Friday night to stay up late drinking Red Bull and performing repetitive, tedious technical work with Nik and I to get everyone's various websites and accounts ready for the event.
- Tony (sorry, I don't know your surname!) from UMIC for providing the venue, funding, prizes and, of course, all the free food.
- Amman Ahmed of a7records for the informative and interesting presentation about his business and the lessons he's learned.
- Kickoff Labs for sponsoring the event and providing free trial accounts to all the participants!
- Last but not least, big thanks are due to the 25 attendees for putting in so much effort and really making the most of the experience. It wouldn't have been the same without you! You guys are probably more knowledgeable about diamonds than me now, and I'm the one who actually works for DIA. I'm sure I'll be seeing you all again at future ME events.
(I hope I'm not missing anyone. If you think your name should be on this list and it's not, rest assured I'm not ungrateful, just forgetful.)
Hopefully by now, if you didn't come to Unipreneur, I've made you wish you had. Fear not! The event will be back next semester, new and improved with all the lessons we've learned from this time. Keep an eye on our newsletter (or on the Unipreneur site itself) for news of the next Unipreneur, not to mention our upcoming events Inventorpreneur and Student Startup Weekend which promise to be just as great.
by George Millo, ME Technical Director
(Part of) the crew.