Achieving the dream of Destination Rio!

Posted on 10th April 2013

A group of students from the University of Chester has taken part in the business experience of a lifetime, travelling across the globe to present their ideas in Brazil.

Destination Rio party outside the event.
Destination Rio party outside the event.
Destination Rio has provided a truly unique opportunity for students of the University of Chester, and beyond, to engage in enterprise and entrepreneurship
Kirsty Badrock

Five students from the Chester Business School joined three students from Wirral Metropolitan College and jetted to Rio de Janeiro as part of the ‘Destination Rio’ programme.

Destination Rio was a new initiative, launched in the summer of 2012, which aimed to nurture and foster the next generation of entrepreneurs. It was designed to encompass two main global entrepreneurship dates; Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2013 (GEC2013).

In September 2011, teams of budding entrepreneurs from across the University and beyond were set the mission of transforming an initial investment of £10 into the profits necessary to fund travel to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Rio de Janeiro in March 2013 through a series of challenges designed to test their enterprise skills.

Destination Rio was launched during GEW in November 2012, with an initial £10 Challenge, encouraging 20 teams to generate as much profit as possible within a 48-hour window. From e-Commerce, an ‘Auction of Talents and Promises’ to bake sales, profits ranged from £15 to just over £1,000. The event has since received global recognition being acknowledged as ‘High Impact’ by the team behind GEW. To achieve the ‘High Impact’ Badge of Honour the challenge needed to meet four out of six criteria – promote the GEW campaign; provide practical support; provide role models, share success; develop enterprise capabilities and measure the effect.

Ten teams progressed and supported by a business mentor, developed their business ideas and concepts in a bid to raise the funds. Over the course of the next three months, teams devoted their time to developing and executing their business plans, raising sponsorship and engaging in entrepreneurial activity.

In an exciting finale, ‘Funders of Last Resort’ made up of funders Fran Hulbert, Chair of the RIC Steering Group; Neal Edwards, Wheatsheaf Investments; John-Newton Jones, Snowdonia Cheese; and David Pickering, Meadow Foods Ltd pledged to support teams who had not quite reached the finish line and sponsorship was subsequently allocated to teams who had impressed the most.

Four teams travelled to Rio de Janeiro in March to attend the Main Summit of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, in addition to a varied week-long programme. Those travelling took part in activities and events such as

  • Delivery of an official GEC Fringe Event attracting over 50 attendees including GEC delegates from around the world and entrepreneurial staff and students studying at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica (PUC) do Rio de Janeiro. The teams presented on their entrepreneurial journey under the theme of ‘failure’ associating their three main ‘failures’ with business planning, marketing and finance, followed by a networking session allowing the teams to connect with entrepreneurs.
  • An ‘Entrepreneurial Brazil’ tour including visits to creative co-working and accelerator spaces within Rio de Janiero, led by local entrepreneur Guilherme Lito. Spaces included student enterprise at PUC, 21212, Papaya and Luz.
  • A visit to the British Consulate to meet with Steve Graham, Deputy Consul and Head of UKTI in Rio with a Q&A session on Brazilian Business Culture.
  • The ‘Sights and Sounds of Rio’ including a visit to Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer.
  • A meeting with Jim Fielder, Environmental Sustainability Consultant with ‘BioRegional,’ who advised the group on environmental and sustainability issues in Brazil and Rio specifically.
  • Experience of the business culture of a city rising in stature and global importance with the backdrop of the upcoming 2014 World Cup and the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Destination Rio party made up over 20% of the UK delegation at the GEC2013; proudly representing the UK’s Higher Education sector.

Will Mason, President of Chester Enterprise Society, who partnered with the RIC on the initiative said: “Destination Rio was an invigorating business experience! The programme in Rio has provided me with international contacts, an insight into Brazilian business culture and I have had the fortune to hear several inspiring stories from the budding entrepreneurs at the GEC.

"It has been fantastic to share this experience with a group of people who aspire to be the business leaders of the future, and will be an invaluable asset on my CV and future business portfolio."

Kirsty Badrock, Innovation and Enterprise Co-ordinator at the RIC, said: "Destination Rio has provided a truly unique opportunity for students of the University of Chester, and beyond, to engage in enterprise and entrepreneurship. This multi-faceted initiative has had a great impact on our students taking part. The practical skills and knowledge gained throughout the fundraising process, in addition to the real-world experience of another business and social culture has been remarkable. This would not have been possible without the overwhelming amount of support from local business community; for which we are truly grateful."