The name given to the NEOMA BS back-to-school seminar for Master In Management students is 'Starting Days'. The idea is for the first-year students to create a social and community-oriented micro-enterprise. Over the 4 days, the students face the same challenges as true entrepreneurs: building a concept, drawing up a business plan, marketing the idea, communication… .
The Starting Days event has been so successful that some of the ideas are actually being turned into genuine start-ups. This is the case of Paye Ton Compost, a sart-up created last year by a trio of Neoma students. Paul Feix, project leader, talks about the adventure.
You won the 2018 Starting Days innovation prize in Rouen, and your success is a real pleasure to see. Do you think the Starting Days event had something to do with the emergence of the project or was this an idea you already had?
Paul FEIX : "Paye ton compost" is an idea that came about during Starting Days. The team was awarded the prize for innovation at last year's back-to-school seminar on social entrepreneurship.
The basic idea of "Paye ton compost" is really quite simple: to encourage students to eat better, by placing value on their organic waste. The waste is weighed and then converted into vouchers that can be exchanged for farm-produce. 1 kg of organic waste is equal to a voucher worth €1. The vouchers are accepted by a local Normandy farmer who sells produce at a stand at the Place Cauchoise market in Rouen every Friday. The farmer recycles the organic waste collected on campus into compost, which he then reuses on his farm as a natural fertilizer.
Today, the project is incubated by Enactus Rouen, which has really helped the project to grow. We were even awarded third place at the Social Cup (a French competition for social entrepreneurs. This success has continued on campus too, reflected by the fact that during the latest bucket distribution, we had to start a waiting list!
What memories do you have of your involvement in Starting Days?
Paul FEIX : Starting Days was really great. I didn't know anyone when I arrived at NEOMA. Being divided into small groups meant that I was part of a team and got to meet classmates straight away.
Throwing students straight into an entrepreneurial experience is really interesting. When I arrived I didn't have the slightest idea or know-how about how to create a project like Pay Your Compost. But the Starting Days event is really intense and you get to learn things quickly! The coaches set challenges throughout the week and the different steps we had to follow meant that we could structure our project.
My best memory was pitching in the big amphitheatre. This was quite scary, but an excellent way to overcome shyness. For me, the highlight of the event was presenting the idea to all the new students, which was the culmination of the effort we'd put in as a team.
What interest did you have in attending the Starting Days event this year and to being part of the Expert Village?
Paul FEIX : Our interest was in providing first year students with knowledge on the economic management of Social and Solidarity Projects. As we experienced the same thing last year, we knew the challenges they were going to be facing. And this also gave us the opportunity to talk to them about the projects Enactus is involved in. We wanted to inspire the first year students to get involved with the 'Paye ton Compost' project and thereby ensure the transition between ourselves and the new members, so that this success story does not end here!