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Léopold and Dario, 4th year MGE students at NEOMA BS, were part of the multidisciplinary winning team that won First Prize at the Startup Weekend organised by the Ecole Polytechnique from 10-12 October.

Startup Weekend an international organisation that promotes entrepreneurship by organising weekends of the same name.  More than 1000 weekends have already taken place in nearly 500 locations.

Hi Léopold and Dario. Could you introduce yourselves?

Hi, we’re Léopold Rossye and Dario Sarango, two 4th year students on the NEOMA Business School Master Grande Ecole programme, on the Reims campus.

Personally (Léopold), my syllabus has concentrated mainly on international trade and strategy.  After an internship in a start-up company as Business Developer, I wanted to know more about entrepreneurship.

As for me (Dario), I have followed a multidisciplinary programme combining finance and entrepreneurship, and I am a member of the school’s Social and Solidarity-Based Economy chair.

Tell us exactly what the event involves

Startup Weekends are sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs and Coca-Cola in particular. Their aim is to inspire, help and support projects. The founding principle is learning by doing: you come with or without an idea, you get into teams, you test your project and you leave with your own start-up company!

We took part in the Startup Weekend organised by the Ecole Polytechnique. In 54 hours, we presented our initial idea, formed our team, shared ideas, built a prototype and won the first prize. Throughout the weekend, we were coached by Polytechnique alumni or former McKinsey consultants.  Their feedback was extremely useful! On the Sunday evening, we presented our start-up to a jury made up of Ernst & Young associates, managers of innovative firms such as Critéo and business angels.

We want to stress the fact that you don’t need to be a “serial-entrepreneur” or mad about innovation to take part. You just need to be looking for a powerful experience, to want to meet other young people with the same commitment and not to be afraid of presenting your ideas to a lecture theatre full of curious people!

Well then, what was the project that won you the First Prize?

The idea is simple: to provide a solution for urban mobility by bike. Our solution for this need is a bike accessory that is beautifully designed, portable and flexible. It’s a practical, robust tool everyone can use.

Among so many projects for mobile/web applications, our project “WHEEL’IT,” stood out. We didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Our value proposition wasn’t an innovative product but an innovative way of using two everyday products.

What the jury liked was the simplicity of the idea, its feasibility and its practical, innovative quality.

How did your NEOMA Business School Master Grande Ecole studies help you to win the competition?

We were in a team with five engineering students and two designers. Whilst the engineers built the prototype and the designers developed the products identity, Léopold and I were responsible for developing the start-up’s business model, and the marketing, sales and overall strategy.

As business school students, we contributed genuine added value in these fields, and our skills put us at the heart of the project.  We also got the help of the NEOMA Business School community to carry out a mini market study, and they reacted very positively (thanks once again to all the students!)

What do you remember most about the weekend, and would you recommend other NEOMA Business School students to take part as well?

It was unbelievably intense intellectually, emotionally and physically. We are proud to have won first prize thanks to the work of an amazing team. We didn’t know each other before, yet we managed to work perfectly together.

As for other students at the School, whether you are just curious or already have an idea for a project in mind, go for it, get out of your comfort zone! You’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to win. We can guarantee you won’t be the same after taking part.

Finally, we hope that a Startup Weekend will be organised at NEOMA Business School. If there is an enthusiastic team of students and Alumni, we’re ready!

More about StartUp Weekend at "Polytechnique"

Find out more about the NEOMA BS Master in Management-Grande Ecole programme