Howdy, EcoGardeners! Did any of you know that since July, while everyone else was off somewhere exotic on vacation and soaking up the sun, we’ve been participating in something really exciting?? Well, we have! It’s called the EIT Food Accelerator, it’s put on by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology and is specifically geared towards startups within the realm of Agrifood. The aim of this program is to mentor, teach and enable promising startups to be successful and bring about positive change in the food and agriculture industries.
There are a total of 54 startups participating at 5 different locations around Europe, and we were selected to participate in the Bilbao, Spain location (a pretty nice treat for us Northerners). Since the program began, we have attended workshops and met with subject matter experts in everything from securing investors to building a team and brand strategy. And this past week, I (Kirsten) was lucky enough to go and learn about all things marketing (as well as eating my weight in tapas and gelato). Now that I’m back in chilly Sweden, I thought I would share a little about a “day in the life” at the EIT Accelerator in Bilbao.
6:30 am: Alarm goes off. It is really dark in Spain in the mornings! They are totally on the wrong time zone. But then again it’s super warm here and almost freezing in Sweden so I’ll take it! I get ready for the day and eat a Spanish breakfast at my hotel. I leave my hotel in the old town around 8 and walk to a bus stop that will take me to the “Technology Park.” The bus winds through beautiful mountains as well as industrial parks, embodying the contradiction that is the city of Bilbao – at times feeling old and antiquated and other times high-tech and modern. It is a beautiful place to visit and for sure to live.
8:45 am: I arrive at the EIT Food office, which has a modern but environmentally-minded architectural style. I settle in amongst the other participants, try to nagivate which of the many trash/recycling/compost bins my tea bag goes into and enjoy feeling the warmth of the Spanish sun.
9-11:30: Part 1 of the day’s workshop. We meet with two journalists with seriously impressive careers, who walk us through the ins and outs of writing a press release. For the second half of this session we break up into two groups and actually write press releases for our own startups, when we will have a newsworthy update! The best part is that we’re able to get feedback from other startups as well as the journalists on how to make our press releases even better, ensuring that when we have news to share it will not be ignored! The session is super helpful and I walk away with an almost complete press release for the launch of the EcoGarden (now we just have to manufacture the product!).
11:30-12: We take a coffee break and socialize with each other and the journalists. I have been loving meeting the other participants, who come from all different parts of Europe and have businesses specializing in everything from farming to energy drinks. So inspiring to meet so many people pursuing their visions of making the world a better place!
12-1:30: Part 2 of the day’s workshop: interviews. In between amusing stories of what it is like to interview Putin, we learn the strengths and dangers of doing an interview, what can go well if done right and what can go horribly wrong. We get to do a mock interview with one of the journalists which is kind of scary but also pretty fun! Now I’m wishing we did have more interviews! Any journalists out there… call us?!
1:30: We break for lunch – delicious Basque food with plenty of peppers and onions. After lunch we have some free time to do work so I make some finishing touches to our press release from earlier, and write down some questions I would like to ask the journalists.
2-3: We are allowed to sign up with 1-on-1 sessions with the journalists. I’m not going to leave any opportunities on the table so I sign myself up to talk to both of them, and get some more tips on how to craft a media strategy specifically for Ecobloom. It’s great to have this 1:1 time to get personalized help.
3-4: Finish up some work at the EIT office and head back to my hotel to change into my tourist clothes!
5-9: Spend the evening walking about beautiful Bilbao, taking the funicular up to a breathtaking lookout point and having one of the best meals of my life. I am lucky to be staying in Casco Viejo which is the oldest and maybe most charming part of Bilbao. It’s a major change of scenery from the average street in Stockholm, and I am loving strolling around without a heavy jacket on. Life is good in Bilbao!
So there you have it, an average day at the EIT Food Accelerator in Bilbao. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we’re learning all we can to make the best possible difference in the agricultural world, doing our part to preserve the earth for generations to come. And with the Food Accelerator we’re off to a great start.