On 1 March 2021, EWOR kicked off off another round of its prestigious EWOR Fellowship program.
“The concept,” its founder Daniel Dippold explains, “is uniquely designed to help corporations realize disruptive innovation and individuals to start ventures of global scale.” This March, an exciting mix of people, including former Miss India UK, who holds a Summa Cum Laude degree in law and a former Swiss math champion, join EWOR and a German real-estate fund with 3 BN assets under management to create outstanding ventures. We were interested in finding out what makes this concept so promising and how it attracted so many exceptional individuals.
EWOR was founded to empower individuals all over the globe to build outstanding ventures and innovations. Its fellowship is a blend of venture building, education, and networking, as shown below. Corporations are joined by a series of innovators with backgrounds in science, business, and computer science. EWOR is responsible for creating an ecosystem and educational approach in which all stakeholders thrive to build ventures of a global scale. Every year, an EWOR fellowship is awarded to approximately 10-30 individuals all over Europe.
From our interview with its founder, we were amazed by two critical components of the program.
Machine Learning to Accelerate Talent Discovery
Firstly, machine learning played a role in this process. Daniel Dippold wrote a thesis titled ‘A Machine Learning Analysis of the Impact on Cognitive Dimensions on Success in Entrepreneurship,’ part of which was an algorithm that filtered non-successful entrepreneurs correctly in 97.1% of all cases. The thesis was awarded a distinction from Cambridge University. The founder explains that he could use a variety of factors that machine learning can turn into an ‘entrepreneurial potential map.’
He explains further that, opposed to standard IQ tests, many of the factors identified by EWOR’s algorithm are indeed malleable. It helps identify where an individual needs to develop and are by no means a fixed number, such as IQ, that cannot be altered over time. EWOR has built an entire concept around this notion of malleable entrepreneurial potential, incorporated in its platform ewor.io.
“The gist is,” Daniel explains, “that school teaches us only one important dimension of intelligence and neglects others that are essential for starting a successful business.” At the University of Cambridge, Daniel researched what are called “environments of unknown unknowns.” Such environments are so complex that it is impossible to factor in every component necessary for making a good decision. There are not only factors one knows are unknown but also factors that one isn’t even aware of. In such environments, things work differently. That is why EWOR has developed a new educational concept that discards concepts essential to ordinary education, such as having a curriculum.
A Win-Win-Win Situation
Secondly, the EWOR concept is designed to create a win-win-win situation for EWOR fellows, EWOR corporations, and EWOR itself. Partnership companies, who offer their expertise, office space, and other resources to EWOR fellows, benefit from being exposed to innovations it could not possibly create in-house.
Having conceptualized both incubator and accelerator programs before, Daniel is convinced that both concepts are not ideal for corporate innovation. Instead, an approach needs to be chosen that allows corporations to innovate around their core business but at the same time avoid paralyzing the entrepreneurial spirit of founders. This is a common problem with incubators, where corporations exercise too much control – or are forced to do so because of compliance reasons – which ultimately stymies entrepreneurs.
An Outstanding Network of Advisors
A look at the advisory board of the company supports our confidence in the program. Personalities such as Alexander Grots, the former Managing Director of IDEO Europe, the world’s largest innovation agency that invented the world-known term ‘design thinking,’ helped co-design much of EWOR’s education platform. Chris Coleridge, Professor at University of Cambridge, founder of multiple accelerator programs and founder of Europe’s first Master’s degree in entrepreneurship, helped design EWOR’s learning map.
Individuals such as Daniel Marasch, former Executive Board at Lidl, and Alex Schwörer, Owner and former Executive Board of 6000-employee firm PERI, represent large corporations’ voices in EWOR’s programs. Finally, serial inventor and unicorn founder Mattias Bergstrom co-developed and challenged many of their assumptions around building global-scale ventures.
The Partnership Company
The partnership company, Project Gruppe, is a Germany-based real estate fund and developer with over 25 years of track record within the industry. Project manages over 3 BN €s of assets and owns the entire value chain from raising capital to developing and selling properties. The exclusive partnership between the fund manager and real estate developer allows Project Gruppe to operate efficiently and thus deliver a high financial return to its investors. Christian Grall, CEO of Project Vermittlungs GmbH, states that ‘he is excited to see the EWOR fellows challenge their status quo.’
Lastly, we were impressed by the talent EWOR was able to attract with its program. This year’s fellowship awards the following candidates with an EWOR fellowship:
Suhani Gandhi holds a Summa Cum Laude Bachelor’s degree in Law and is a scholarship awardee at Imperial College Business School, where she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Strategic Marketing. Suhani founded the first-ever online Hindi school, Holiday Hindi, facilitating language learning through Indian arts and culture. She is an award-winning actress who has appeared in projects on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Suhani was titled Miss India UK in 2014 and nominated by Times Now as NRI of the Year for her contribution to the arts sector.
Yannick Müller is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Sciences at ETH Zurich. He participated in over 10 Hackathons, of which he won some. Yannick developed AI solutions to classify web attacks and conceptualized a solar house with a rooftop that allows solar beams to enter during Winter. He is a Swiss math champion and is currently preparing for an Ironman.
Ayoub Boukir has a Summa Cum Laude bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is enrolled in a Master’s Degree in Finance and Accounting at the University of St. Gallen. Ayoub founded a project which used drones to map agricultural land. He is the VP of Finance and Fundraising at World Merit Morocco and has consulted companies and funds investing in Africa.
Clarissa Heidenreich built up Afya Nutrition, a social startup that tackles malnutrition in African countries with the microalgae Spirulina. She has a degree in Business Law and is pursuing a second degree in Corporate Law. Clarissa received multiple recognitions, such as being picked as a McKinsey Firsthand, an EY Future Female Talent, and more. In 2018, she won the National Championship with Enactus Mannheim. Clarissa received several scholarships and awards for academic excellence and has gathered practical business expertise as CEO of Begapinol Dr. Schmidt GmbH.
William McSweeney holds degrees in History and Human Rights. In his work at a LawTech company, he has automated a data protection e-learning solution, which netted £200k within 18 months. William led a research project and developed a solution to reduce barriers to access digitized legal advice. His work focuses on bridging the gap between technology and law and increasing access to justice through innovation.
Gatsby Fitzgerald holds a Bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Chemistry at Imperial College London and is now enrolled in a Joint Honours Management program at the Imperial College Business School. Gatsby has developed a technology to recycle Li-ion batteries during a 12 weeks competition and frequently competes in Marathons and Ironmans.
Sebastian Rappen focused on Cultural Studies of the Middle East and Philosophy at Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, studied design thinking at Stanford in cooperation with the SUGAR network, and graduated with an interdisciplinary Master in Organisational Design from the University of St.Gallen. Sebastian is the former Content Lead Design Thinking for EY and is a Lecturer for Digital Company Culture at BVS St.Gallen. He is a consultant for human-centered design in the health care and finance sector.
Jivan Navani is currently pursuing a Master’s in Entrepreneurship at the University of Cambridge and holds a Bachelor’s in Management from the London School of Economics. At the LSE, he served on the court of governors and was the President of the Investment Society. Jivan has founded numerous successful businesses and has been part of the 2019 cohort of the Y Combinator Startup School. Additionally, he is the former Head of Operations at London Blockchain Labs and former Head of Venture Investment at European Student Startups.
Melanie Preen is a fresh student at The University of Manchester, where she is enrolled in the Information Technology Management’s honors program. She co-founded a 3D printing prosthetics club and was recognized for the International School Awards 2021, where she built a prosthetic hand for a girl born with amniotic band syndrome. She is the demo day innovation winner for the LaunchX Entrepreneurship Program in South East Asia, where her team ideated a gamified, remote-controlled biomimicry fish that consumed plastic. She has fundraised successfully for her Cambodian School via VR and has curated and co-hosted the first public TEDx event in Phuket to give a voice to the community.
Aldiyar Semedyarov is pursuing a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies from ETH Zurich. He co-founded the startup Qoqys to address the waste management challenges in Kazakhstan. He won the ABC Incubation program by Nazarbayev University Research and Innovation System and the Fostering Research and Innovation Potential program by Nazarbayev University Young Researchers Alliance. Aldiyar has received a certificate of appreciation from the mayor of Aktau city for the city’s socio-economic development and is a gold and silver medal winner of Kazakhstan’s national physics olympiads. He co-authored two publications that were presented at esteemed international scientific conferences.