From Seminars To Startups: What Makes A Student Entrepreneur? | Top Universities

From Seminars To Startups: What Makes A Student Entrepreneur?

By Stephanie L

Updated February 24, 2021 Updated February 24, 2021

Sponsored by Universidad de Lima

The path to being an entrepreneur is both an exciting and challenging one – especially if you choose to start your own business while at university. For many it’s the optimum time for trial and error due to the wealth of resources and spare time available.

How do you get started? Who do you turn to for advice and support? Do you need to study business or entrepreneurship? With an estimated 90 percent of new startups failing, it’s a stark reminder that specific business knowledge and good mentorship isn’t to be underestimated.

What makes a student entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship has become an increasingly popular field of study in universities across the world –whether it’s offered as a degree program or in the form of a dedicated startup lab.

Being able to identify a problem and come up with your own solution is something sounds fairly easy, but understanding and learning about the characteristics of what makes a good entrepreneur is a challenge in itself.

The opportunity to gain valuable professional skills in a safe space where you can put your learning into practice and benefit from an established support structure is something that many students are making the most of during their university experience. 

From seminars to startup…

At Universidad de Lima, its Center for Entrepreneurship and Primer Paso Competition (First Step Competition) is a prime example of the university’s business and creative approach to entrepreneurship. Currently in its seventh year, the Primer Paso Competition welcomes aspiring entrepreneurs from all walks of life to take part.

The first ever winner of the competition in 2014 was Industrial Engineering student, Eduardo Nue Echevarría with his company, Natural Juice, which makes and sells 100 percent natural and healthy fruit juices.  

Since then, five more aspiring entrepreneurs have been awarded first place with their innovative business ventures, including 2015 Industrial Engineering student, Emilio Fantozzi Freire, with his company, Mandü which helps an organization better engage and motivate its workforce through a virtual platform.

In 2016, childhood friends and Industrial Engineering students, Diego Casabonne and Alfonso Granda created Come en Casa, which was also inspired by the idea of healthy and easy-to-prepare food.

While the 2017 and 2018 winners looked to the power of technology and how it can better access to transport with Administration student, Sergio Olcese’s company, Bauen, along with Walter Calderón’s Global Network Systems business, and graduate, Álex Zúñiga’s international fintech company.

Earlier this year, Industrial Engineering graduate Tiago del Río San Martín was crowned the winner of the Primer Paso Competition with his business-to-business (B2B) company, Equip Industry. The cloud-based e-commerce platform is essentially an online mall – the first of its kind for the industrial sector in Latin America – which works to optimize the purchase and sales process between industrial suppliers with buyers within the sector.

What initially started as a frustrating and time-consuming research process for a university assignment, soon became a lightbulb moment for Tiago. In an interview with Universidad de Lima in February, Tiago spoke about the motivation behind Equip Industry along with the risks involved, the challenges he faced, and his plans for the future of the company.

Combining his passion for technology and keen interest in creating an optimized, differentiated and specialized solution for the industrial sector, Tiago found himself with a project he developed which used augmented reality for e-commerce. To turn this project into a reality (and success) he needed a real, solid business plan.

“I needed to focus on having the best in-house technological team with a view to create a product that permanently improves, and to test it with customers,” he said.

“Prior to the launch we already had more than 10,000 industrial products, and more than 50 national and international trademarks,” said Tiago.

Looking to the future Tiago and his team of experience developers, designers, and analysts are hoping to go global.

“We already have overseas customers with local offices,” said Tiago. “We started here with them, but with a view to expanding, as we grow, to Chile and Colombia. The idea is to consolidate in Peru and later make the leap to Chile, whose industrial mining sector is very similar to our market. That will help us to have a soft landing and position ourselves in the best way.”

And when it came to winning first place in the Primer Paso Competition, Tiago made sure his plan was as full-proof as possible.

“Focusing on our team, creating our culture and having feedback from our current clients with a prototype allowed us to win the contest and continue to advance much faster and without fear,” he said.

Lead image credit: Universidad de Lima

This article was originally published in October 2020 . It was last updated in February 2021

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Written by

As the Head of Sponsored Content for and, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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