From ideas to impact: ESMT’s Sustainability Bootcamp for aspiring entrepreneurs 

Hendrik Stotz at ESMT Berlin's Sustainability Bootcamp

In today’s rapidly evolving world, where sustainability is no longer a choice but a necessity, the demand for innovative and entrepreneurial minds is at an all-time high. If you’re an individual brimming with creative ideas and a passion for change, you might find yourself at a crossroads: how do you channel your creativity into something impactful? How do you gain the hands-on experience needed to transform your innovative ideas into real-world solutions? 

Here’s where our Sustainability Bootcamp (SB) comes in. As part of the Master’s in Innovation & Entrepreneurship (MIE) program at ESMT, it is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills to turn groundbreaking technologies into sustainable entrepreneurship ventures. 

The SB is not just a learning experience; it’s a journey into the heart of innovation in Berlin, one of Europe’s most vibrant start-up ecosystems. Students will have the opportunity to engage in sustainability challenges presented by corporate partners and NGOs, build a robust network of like-minded individuals, and gain practical insights from industry leaders and venture capitalists (VCs). 

What is the Sustainability Bootcamp (SB)? 

The Sustainability Bootcamp is an integral part of our MIE program, offered in collaboration with Vali, ESMT’s renowned entrepreneurship hub. It serves as the essential first step in your practical entrepreneurship journey at ESMT, guiding you from ideation to execution. Follow-up support from Vali’s SEP incubator and the NEXT accelerator program ensures that ESMT students are not only prepared but well-equipped to thrive in Berlin’s dynamic start-up landscape. 

We spoke to Hendrik Stotz, a current student at ESMT, about his journey through the Sustainability Bootcamp. Discover how the SB has shaped his entrepreneurial path within our Master’s in Innovation & Entrepreneurship program and his key takeaways. 

What specific challenges did you work on, such as the Lufthansa Innovation Hub (LIH) Challenge and the individual challenge? 

Hendrik: “Experts from LIH presented their three main sustainability challenges: loyalty programs, AI, and circularity. Aside from that, we also had the option to pitch our own sustainability challenge.  

Based on my team’s experience, we chose to tackle CO2 emissions from the real estate sector, which is responsible for about 40% of global emissions. Over three weeks, seasoned start-up coaches provided us with tools and methods to find innovative solutions for our selected challenges.” 

Can you describe how the Sustainability Bootcamp (SB) shifted your perspective on entrepreneurship? 

Hendrik: “Before the SB, entrepreneurship was more of a theoretical concept I’d mainly learned about in classes. I never really got to “do” it. The SB let me deeply dive into something I’m passionate about and develop a solution with a fantastic team.  

This three-week journey was incredibly enriching and got me even more excited to continue my entrepreneurial journey, which one of the many reasons is why I’m currently participating in Vali’s Summer Entrepreneurship Program (SEP).” 

What do you think was the most important thing that you learned during the Sustainability Bootcamp? 

Hendrik: “Building something out of nothing is a lot of work. However, effectively leveraging the resources, the knowledge, and the network we were provided with was incredibly helpful. Combined with being able to dedicate the necessary time and effort to something you’re passionate about with people you can rely on, things work out eventually. Or they don’t, and you pivot and restart. It’s all part of the journey.” 

What did you find challenging about the Sustainability Bootcamp? 

Hendrik: “Sometimes it was easy to lose focus and get a bit lost, especially in the beginning when hypotheses needed testing and we had many ideas for potential solutions. Luckily, we had an amazing venture-building coach who helped us stay on track and regain focus on what really mattered.” 

What were your favorite things about participating in the Sustainability Bootcamp? 

Hendrik: “Working with my team, getting to know other aspiring entrepreneurs, and getting to know the VC world. On the first day, we formed teams based on complementary skills like business, design, and development. We formed a fantastic team and working with them was incredibly enriching for every step of the way.  

Furthermore, Vali had also accepted externals into the program, who brought in diverse backgrounds and fresh perspectives. This way, we weren’t just surrounded by our typical environment and network, but I was able to connect with interesting people from whose journey I still get to learn today. Lastly, during two office visits at Venture Capital firms, we learned about the current state of the VC market and how and in what cases to get VC funding.” 

What was the most memorable experience you had during the Sustainability Bootcamp? 

Hendrik: “The final pitch day was the highlight. After three weeks of hard work, coaching sessions, and some long days and nights, we pitched our solutions in a 5-minute presentation followed by a 10-minute Q&A in front of a jury of investors at the LIH office. It was inspiring to see what the teams had come up with and how their ideas had evolved throughout the program. 

When it was our turn, my teammate Caroline and I pitched our solution together and it was super fun answering the jury’s challenging questions with the whole team. Convincing the jury of our idea was the perfect end to the SB and a whole new beginning for what’s next.” 

How did the Sustainability Bootcamp help you build your professional network? 

Hendrik: “If there’s one thing I learned about people and networking throughout the past few years, it’s that a good network is everything. Berlin’s start-up community is thriving, and the SB was a fantastic opportunity to make initial connections. I got to know some of the founders associated with Vali, one of whom is now our mentor for the SEP.  

Also, remember the fantastic venture-building coach I mentioned earlier? He now also supports us on our journey through the SEP, which is incredibly valuable. The SB offered excellent opportunities to meet incredible people, but it also showed that it’s up to each person to shape their own network.” 

What is one key takeaway from the Sustainability Bootcamp that you will carry forward? 

Hendrik: “A good friend recommended the book ‘The One Thing’ by Keller & Papasan to me during the SB. The key takeaway? Always ask yourself one question before everything you do, ‘What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?’” 

Kickstart your entrepreneurial journey with ESMT 

The Sustainability Bootcamp at ESMT Berlin is more than just an introduction to sustainable entrepreneurship—it’s a launchpad for future innovators. Through our Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIE) program and the supportive ecosystem of Vali, students gain the tools and mentorship to transform their ideas into impactful, sustainable businesses.  

Whether you’re dreaming of starting your own business, driving corporate sustainability, or making a significant difference in the world, our MIE program is the perfect place to start. Join us at ESMT and take the first step towards creating a sustainable future. 

Click here to find out more about our Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIE) program 

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