I am here to…..

27th July 2015 –  @ the Hellenic Bank Head Office in Nicosia, 3 teams were selected to represent Cyprus in Amsterdam at the European Final. Before we reveal what happened at the finals, lets rewind and see what happened throughout the ClimateLaunchpad journey in Cyprus.

Determination to learn, evolve, teach and guide formed the key fundamentals of this year’s ClimateLaunchpad Cyprus boot camp that took place in the village of Kalopanayiotis this past June. “I am here: to gain valuable knowledge and experience, to become better, to make my dream come true, to create my future, to learn how to build a start-up, to learn as much as possible and become rich, to improve as an individual and an entrepreneur, to make my product a reality”, are some of the reasons cited by the team members whose applications succeeded in granting them a seat on this amazing journey.

Kalopanayiotis is a small village up in the mountains, very popular amongst city dwellers looking for a quiet getaway from the island’s busy life. That weekend however, the village’s tranquility was disrupted; and the country President’s arrival for the long awaited inauguration of the village’s ‘lift’ was definitely not the sole reason for this.

The LEAPsters (a term used for the Chrysalis LEAP team charged with organising the competition in Cyprus) had arrived on Friday morning, ready and pumped up for the weekend. ClimateLaunchpad preparations began with the placing of signs, posters, flags and banners all over the village, which led to many ‘whats’ and ‘wheres’ and soon the boot camp became the topic of conversation amongst locals and visitors. The weekend kicked off with a ‘meet and greet’ cocktail at the Casale Panayiotis restaurant terrace en face a breathtaking view. Ten determined teams, four devoted PwC representatives and the Chrysalis LEAP team had the chance to meet each other and mingle in a relaxed setting over a glass of wine. After a few chats and laughs, we called it a night and headed off for some needed rest.

At 8:45 the next morning everyone met on the bridge connecting the valley and walked up to the camp site to begin what would be the start to an exhilarating ride. It didn’t take much time and effort to get Alex on stage to introduce the team and the programme. Paris soon took the floor and the real work began as he presented the founder’s dream, explained the deal, beachhead market and customer value propositions. After all, “I am here to help Cypriot entrepreneurs learn how to convert their green ideas into investible opportunities” says Paris. The teams worked on their exercises, taking on board the valuable feedback, comments and advice from the coaches that circled the room. “I am here to inject passion, confidence and knowledge into ambitious entrepreneurs”, says Robert Langer, longtime friend and associate of Chrysalis LEAP from Germany. “I am here to work with intelligent idea generators and help them in any way I can in chasing their dreams”, says Socrates, a PwC consultant who along with three other colleagues became an invaluable addition to the coaching team.

In keeping with the motivational spirit of the weekend, Vasos Vassiliou of Viridom, a Chrysalis LEAP graduate from last year’s competition, was asked to share his experience with the teams.  His presentation and to-date success generated further discussion and Q&As until it was time to call it a day and have dinner. This meant it was time for traditional Cypriot meze, house wine and zivania shots for those of a stronger constitution.

Day 2 had come and what better way to begin the day than with an inspirational and passionate presentation by Ron Bloemers, Climate-KIC trainer and founder of Start-U-up, who engaged the participants instantaneously. Ron was here to “unlock the clean tech potential in Europe and help start-ups to reach their full potential”. After a short recap of the previous day, the teams were asked to present their deals and beachhead markets before getting all nitty-gritty with the financials and competitive advantage. After an energizing lunch, the teams used the entire afternoon to prepare their pitch deck trying to digest and incorporate all that they had learnt in the past 24 hours. Not an easy task, but with the help of the coaches, the teams were ready with their first attempt at a complete pitch.

That long-awaited time had come and it was time for some tough love. Ten excited, albeit stressed teams, pitched their ideas before a jury comprising of a Deano Symeonides (Chrysalis LEAP), Ron Bloemers and Mrs Androulla Pitta, a partner from PwC. There’s a wise saying that we can vouch for and it goes like this: “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. The teams were recipients to many tough remarks and attacks which certainly did not hold them back.

Whilst the boot camp had come to an end, all teams continued their pursuit to success and returned even more determined and prepared to the follow-up coaching sessions with the aim of perfecting their pitch.

Six weeks later the national final had finally arrived and our ten amazing teams pitched their inspiring ideas to a renowned jury panel of four esteemed judges and an audience of 180 people. “I have not seen as many people in one place, in such an amazing place, in such a smoothly organised and such an aspiring and inspiring event as this team has achieved today”, says Anna Maria Veltkamp of Climate-KIC.

After a difficult 30-minute deliberation, the jury came to a consensus. Everyone gathered in the foyer, with a glass of a wine as the three winners were announced. In no particular order the three teams that received their ticket to the European Finals were (*drumroll): Panemon, Fornelia and H2Move.  “I am here to participate in this great competition with the hope to win one of the three tickets to Amsterdam”, said Savvas of Fornelia when asked 3 months ago. Savvas is now on his way to Amsterdam as one of the winning teams.  We wish him and the other teams the best of luck .

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