Report: The 24 Hour Business Game

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Co-author: Antonia von Daniels, Kevin Ren On May 21st the 24 hour business game took place in Rotterdam. 18 teams built startups but only one could win. Find out who did and what happened!

Imagine you have got this great idea of a new business. But without actual experience, it is often rather difficult to turn this idea into a successful company. What are my first steps? What should I take into account? What value do I really want to deliver?

The 24 Hour Business Game is an event that tries to facilitate exactly these early steps. It is a startup marathon where the participants transform their ideas into feasible businesses. As the name already suggests, it is exactly 24 hours long, resulting in a compact timespan full of creativity, hard work, inspiring speeches, workshops and a lot of fun.

The 24 Hour Business Game dates back to 1999, but ECE Students has organised it since last year. Therefore, 2015 was the second edition and it was even bigger and bolder than the previous one. On the 21st of May, 18 carefully selected teams with different ideas and different backgrounds participated and fought in this battle where only one could win.

What happened during the 24hbg

The business game started off at 13:00 on the Erasmus University campus with motivational talks of the organising team, as well as three very different but very innovative entrepreneurs. To give you an impression, the port of Rotterdam gave a promising speech about the impacts that can be achieved in the shipping industry through innovation; here port related startups are being supported and accelerated by their port innovation lab. Furthermore, the founders of and Coco-Mat talked about innovation, the internet of things and how to seek success through simplifying our daily life.

Later during the day, these concepts were further investigated by growth hacking agency Rockboost. According to them, the motto “get paid, get laid, lose weight, and look great!” is everything people search for. You need to make sure you are providing a product that people need and these are the needs young startups should be thinking about. Now that you have all this inspiration and advice, how are you going to incorporate it into your business plan?
Well we can first take a look at how these 18 teams were able to mold their ideas into serious business plans! After the introduction at the campus of  Erasmus University Rotterdam, the 24 Hour Business Game moved to the ECE Campus. A party bus was organized to transport all the teams to the new venue where everyone could get to know each other better. After arriving and receiving a little snack, a presentation was given about business models. Building on this, various teams had to pen down their business canvas model with guidance from startup coaches. Many ideas were polished and a concrete business plan was created. Some teams had not yet pinpointed the exact value proposition that their company offers, but after a critical brainstorm session the teams were ready to start with the real work!

During the rest of the day, different aspects of a startups were payed attention to. Before teams started to work on a specific aspect, they received presentations in advance on the respective aspect such as innovation and product development. After which, the teams had time to develop their business plan in more detail. ECE Students greatly mediated this process by offering help in those different aspects such as IT, marketing and elevator pitching. Besides all kinds of snacks and drinks being provided, it was time for real food! All the teams took a short break to enjoy an extensive buffet to be more energized for the long night that was awaiting them.

The party did not stop at night, the startups worked non stop throughout the night. Sleep is for the weak! However, they did have some help. The teams made an appointment with the IT team and marketing team. Time to start visualizing what their start up would look like. They received a complete house style from marketing: a logo, colour scheme, fonts and brand personality. Using this the IT team coded away throughout the night to give each startup a personalized website. The night was busy with the Rotterdam Consulting Club there to help. Startups also had the opportunity to have their team photos taken. Besides that, they were asked to prepare a one minute pitch about their startup, which was filmed later in the ‘video hub’. This was good practice for the finals if they would make it to the final pitching battles. All this intense work can lead up to a bit of stress and muscle ache. So what better way to relax than receiving a Chinese massage! In a separate area, masseurs were waiting to revitalize the hard-working teams. The weak were granted small naps if really needed in an empty office room filled with inflatable beds and blankets. Although, most workaholics did not give in to their heavy eyelids and worked all throughout the night while wondering if overdosing on coffee was a thing. Nonetheless, the nappers were woken up at 5:45am for the morning gymnastics. The stiff muscles were brought into action again with some stretch exercises!

The Face Off

Each team had three minutes to pitch to an individual investor and show off the startup they had developed over the last 21 hours. Of this the top eight made it through to get in the ring: Welcome Package, Jute Nation, IntegralChain, Caraka, CofoundMe, Censoos, Gift Eazie and Artisto. For the first round each team pitched against another about who they were and why they should be chosen. The judges asked questions and things got quite heated in ring. From this, the top four made it to the semi-finals: CofoundMe vs. Jute Nation and GiftEazie vs. Artisto. CofoundMe pitched a platform to match business individuals with tech individuals to co-found start-ups,  whilst Jute Nation plans to provide eco-friendly alternatives for plastic and leather products. Artisto wants to help young artists find local buyers through combining online and offline channels whilst Gift Eazie aims to provide an integrated web-plugin to help customers bundle different products for existing retailers. It was great to see such different ideas, especially such a strong port-related idea that Jute Nation had in store.

The final teams CofoundMe and GiftEazie battled it off to become the winner of the 24 Hour Business Game. The underdog GiftEazie had made it this far, a one man army, battling it off against larger teams. However, in the end there can only be one winner… CofoundMe! With an existing platform in Switzerland their proof of concept pulled them through; winning access to a workspot at ECE for a full year, the ECE Get Started Program, two flight tickets with Turkish Airlines, consultancy from Symbid on setting up a crowdfunding campaign and a three-month subscription to the platform of Equidam. GiftEazie ended up as runner-up and Jute Nation was named the best port-related idea. The Port of Rotterdam awarded them access to the Port Innovation Lab, worth 15.000 Euros.

After an intense 24 Hours eighteen new start-ups walked away with a strong concept to pursue. But first, it was time to get some sleep!


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