EO Members Reflect on Coaching GSEA Global Finalists for ‘Start It Up’ Season 3

Photo caption: EO members who volunteered to coach GSEA student entrepreneurs include: Divek Barathamanickam, Kate Hancock, Iffat Grecht, Marcelo Bernartt, and Kate Morgan (with Brent Wardrop on the far left behind Divek).

EO’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) is the premier global competition for students who own and operate a business. Nominees compete against their peers from around the world in a series of local, national, and regional competitions in hopes to qualify for the GSEA Global Finals.

In the 2024 competition, 62 finalists competed in the Global Quarter-Finals from February through April. In May, 20 Semi-Finalists advanced and traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, to compete for a spot in the top six Global Finalists with the ultimate goal to be named GSEA Global Champion.

As the students advanced toward the Global Finals, film crews followed the competitors for season three of the docuseries Start It Up, which provides an inside, in-depth view of the GSEA Global Finals experience.

In addition, EO members volunteer as GSEA coaches to mentor the global semi-finalist representing their region. These EOers work with the students to refine their pitches and provide insights and tips to help them succeed in the high-level competition. The coaches also gain firsthand experience of the GSEA program and its profound impact both on the students and on their own entrepreneurial journeys.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect, focusing on my own challenge, passion, anticipation, and concerns about how to contribute to the students and the program as one of the coaches representing Europe,” said Iffat Grecht, an EO Israel chapter member. “Little did I imagine how impactful the program and my personal experience would be.”

Kate Hancock, an EO APAC Bridge chapter member, agrees: “It was one of my favorite EO experiences, surpassing other high-touch events in EO. It was humbling and a privilege to be part of the students’ journey.”

As we anticipate the 28 June premiere of Start It Up Season 3 on YouTube — where the GSEA 2024 Global Champion will be named on 3 July — we asked EO members to share their experience as GSEA coaches:

How did being an EO GSEA coach enrich your EO journey? 

“Mentoring GSEA student entrepreneurs was one of the most rewarding experiences in my EO journey. It allowed me to connect with and guide aspiring entrepreneurs from my region and interact with fellow mentors and students from around the globe, enriching my perspective and enhancing my mentorship skills.”  — Ayush Bansal, EO Gurgaon

“Being a GSEA coach takes the EO experience to a whole new level. Sure, it is an opportunity to give back, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a chance to interact with members from all over the world, not in the audience or as a mere participant, but as a protagonist — figuratively and literally on Start It Up! And of course, to actively engage with the students and put to work the EO values we often regard as “theoretical.”  — Gabriel Kropsch, EO Rio De Janeiro

“Being an EO GSEA coach allowed me to connect deeply with young, passionate entrepreneurs. It strengthened my belief in the power of mentorship and the cohesive, supportive nature of the EO network. The experience reaffirmed the global impact of EO.” – Arshad Bholim, EO Uganda

What surprised you most about the experience?

“The depth of learning I gained from the students! Their innovative ideas, extensive knowledge, and fresh perspectives were truly enlightening, and I often felt that I learned as much, if not more, than they did.” — Ayush Bansal, EO Gurgaon

“I was glad to see the relatively high participation of women entrepreneurs in the competition.” – Iffat Grecht, EO Israel

“I was blown away by the level of commitment, expertise, and impact every one of the 20 semi-finalists displayed.” — Gabriel Kropsch, EO Rio De Janeiro

“I wasn’t expecting it to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I anticipated long, exhausting filming days, but they made it so enjoyable that it didn’t feel like work at all. I was inspired by the competitors, their presentations, and how much they want to change the world.” — Kate Hancock, EO APAC Bridge

“I was most surprised by the sheer determination and innovative spirit of the young entrepreneurs. Their grit, coupled with their fresh perspectives, was both inspiring and, at times, intimidating. Additionally, the vulnerability and synchronous thinking displayed by all the coaches, regardless of their backgrounds, highlighted the strength and unity within EO.” – Arshad Bholim, EO Uganda

What leadership lessons or inspiration did you gain?

“I learned a great deal about the motivations and characteristics of new-age consumers and entrepreneurs. The passion and drive exhibited by the students were incredibly inspiring and reminded me of the importance of enthusiasm and resilience in leadership.” — Ayush Bansal, EO Gurgaon

“It was amazing to see the transformational power of EO values when they are put to work in practical terms. Although every student had their pitch honed to perfection, there is always the extra mile to explore deeper meaning. The stories and experiences they shared were incredible – that goes for the mentees as well as the mentors!” — Gabriel Kropsch, EO Rio De Janeiro

“The experience underscored the importance of empathy, active listening, and adaptability in leadership. Witnessing the students’ resilience and creativity inspired me to approach challenges with a more open and innovative mindset. It was a powerful reminder that leadership is not just about guiding but also about learning and growing alongside those you mentor.” – Arshad Bholim, EO Uganda

Why is GSEA such a valuable part of the EO experience?

“GSEA bridges generations of entrepreneurs, fostering a dynamic exchange of knowledge and inspiration. It provides a platform for seasoned entrepreneurs to give back and for young entrepreneurs to gain crucial insights and support. This symbiotic relationship enriches the EO community and propels entrepreneurial growth and innovation.” – Arshad Bholim, EO Uganda

“I believe GSEA is the ultimate tangible expression of EO’s values and mission. It is a competition and a show. However, it is fundamentally a vehicle to demonstrate EO’s core values. GSEA shows how having an open mind and appreciating different points of view with trust and respect is essential. It highlights the importance of asking questions and trying new things. Curiosity about others, a thirst for learning, innovation, taking risks, thinking big and being bold are celebrated in GSEA. By growing together, we can make a real difference in the lives of each entrepreneur, their families, their teams, and ultimately, their communities.” — Gabriel Kropsch, EO Rio De Janeiro

“GSEA is EO’s way of giving back to the community and the world, contributing to the development of the next generation of entrepreneurs, and aligning with our vision to help people reach their full potential. We are cultivating future entrepreneurs, and the trickle-down effect of that impact is what it is all about.” – Kate Hancock, EO APAC Bridge

What should viewers expect from Start It Up Season 3?

“Viewers can expect an exhilarating journey filled with innovative ideas, transformative coaching sessions, and the relentless pursuit of entrepreneurial dreams. Season 3 promises to showcase the raw, unfiltered experiences of young entrepreneurs and the profound impact of mentorship, making it a must-watch for anyone passionate about entrepreneurship.” — Arshad Bholim, EO Uganda

“It is a tough competition with students who are champions in their own right. It will be a tight race, and some pitches will definitely inspire you and maybe even make you cry.” — Kate Hancock, EO APAC Bridge

“A lot of laughter, some tears, tension, celebration — we had it ALL!” — Gabriel Kropsch, EO Rio De Janeiro

What would you share with EOers interested in engaging with GSEA?

“Get involved! Help organize your chapter competition, spread the word among university and startup communities, participate as a mentor or judge, and support the local finals. Let’s take the EO message to every student entrepreneur out there – they need our mentorship, recognition and connections, but we gain so much more from them, from their energy, resourcefulness, and creativity!” — Gabriel Kropsch, EO Rio De Janeiro

“Volunteering for GSEA and attending the global competition is a must-do in EO. You will thank me later.” — Kate Hancock, EO APAC Bridge

“Coaching at GSEA allowed me to witness firsthand the incredible potential of young entrepreneurs while deepening my EO connections. If you have the opportunity to participate, seize it—it is a journey of inspiration, growth, and invaluable connections. Can I join the next season, too?” – Arshad Bholim, EO Uganda

Are you interested in getting involved with GSEA? Email the EO GSEA team to get connected and start your journey.

Watch the Start It Up Season 3 promo and read the press release about Start It Up and the GSEA competition.

Categories: Coaching GSEA members


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