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ENTREPRENEDU Mentoring & Coaching Programme: Insights from Luiss Guido Carli University

It was our pleasure to learn more about ENTREPRENEDU Mentoring & Coaching Programme with Paola Belingheri, Lecturer on Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at Luiss Guido Carli University.

Please, briefly introduce yourself and tell us more about ENTREPRENEDU Mentoring & Coaching Programme’ goals and benefits?

My name is Paola Belingheri, I’m a Lecturer on Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at Luiss Guido Carli, a university of social sciences located in Rome, Italy.

The mentoring and coaching program of ENTREPRENEDU is designed to support early-stage startups in acquiring some fundamental skills that will accompany them on their entrepreneurial journey.

The added value of the ENTREPRENEDU program is that it’s taught by an international cohort of universities, research centres and support organisations, all involved in entrepreneurship. The instructors thus possess different skills and espouse different perspectives, to which the young entrepreneurs are exposed. 

The Programme includes 6 mentoring modules and yours is about “Crafting a Unique and Competitive Value Proposition”. Can you tell us a bit more about the module itself? What mentees can expect from it?

Our module positions itself at the very start of the entrepreneurial journey, even before coming up with the entrepreneurial idea! Indeed, far too many startups throw themselves into the development of an innovation, without having a clear perspective of the value that their potential users are looking for, their constraints, and their needs.

Following the “Lean Startup ” methodology, we initially guide the students through a problem-definition phase where the aim is to acquire deep insights about their user’s behaviours, needs, pain points, current solutions and habits. We explain in detail how to conduct meaningful user interviews and how to strategize around the results effectively. Once this phase has been concluded, the startups then go through a solution validation, where similarly they try to learn as much as possible about the value that their intended solution could potentially provide to the users. Finally, all the information gathered is synthesised into a customer value proposition that will guide the remainder of the startups’ go-to-market path. 

The participants of the Programme are winning teams of three HackTheBusiness competitions organised by ENTREPRENEDU. In your opinion, what are key potential takeaways for our participants after they conclude the Programme?

The programme is a great tool to increase participant’s self-efficacy, i.e. the belief and conviction they have to be able to create a successful product or service on the market, which is a fundamental ingredient to increase the resilience of entrepreneurs. I believe the program informs them on some of the complexities of setting up a successful business, all the while providing them with tools and methodologies to manage the complexity and thrive. Given its action orientation, it really helps them to move forward with their projects. In addition, my feeling is that the entrepreneurs also are encouraged by the instructors and each other’s enthusiasm, and receive a big motivation boost to continue pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. 

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