UGR Emprendedora increases the number of participants in its activities from 76,000 to 85,000. Two entrepreneurs talk about their experiences at the head of two different projects and encourage people to take the plunge.
“Success in entrepreneurship consists of finding what you really like and knowing how to use it. Entrepreneurship is a complex challenge that requires a lot of effort and commitment, and to give 100% and fight for it, it has to be something that really motivates the entrepreneur, as well as a promising business future. We are all good at something, we just have to find out what”. These are the words of Laura Mata Navarro, who studied audiovisual communication at the University of Granada (UGR) and developed a sustainable craft project called WallieWood.
Laura has completed two UGR Emprendedora courses, Emprende tu TFG and Breaker Impulsa. She has also received a grant from the Diputación de Granada for women entrepreneurs in cities with less than 5,000 inhabitants.
UGR Emprendedora has seen an increase in interest in its activities. In the 2020-2021 academic year, it reached a total of 85,039 people, taking into account all the activities carried out, including networking. In the 2019-2020 academic year, the total was 76,233 people. “We did not interrupt our activity during the pandemic, but we quickly adapted to the non-prospective and were able to reach a large number of users who demanded our services,” explains UGR Emprendedora. The university students have businesses in a variety of fields: applications, environment, agriculture and food, arts, marketing, accommodation, e-commerce and hospitality, among others. The behaviour of entrepreneurs on university campuses during the months of the pandemic has been very varied.
Many slowed down due to low demand; some projects included online events and did even “better” than when they did not have them or only had them occasionally; others looked for new business models to continue marketing; they had to include online sales, for example; and the birth rate issue affected projects that needed to move to their facilities with pilot experiences and were unable to do so.
There are also projects that were not affected by the pandemic because their business model was electronic from the beginning. And from the University of Granada they add that there have been some projects that have benefited from the recovery after the pandemic because they are linked to the leisure and hospitality sector, which is currently in high demand.
Alejandro Muñoz Ruiz and Ester Plaza Ballesteros are entrepreneurs. They are immersed in a project related to leisure. Muñoz studied Computer Engineering at the UGR and Fine Arts at the Complutense University of Madrid. Yokai 3D Studios is dedicated to 3D printing and the processing of these works, focusing mainly on the world of video games and is currently working on the video game Valorant by Riot Games. “We have always seen the desire to raise money in the video game sector and clubs related to electronic sports, which companies do not usually cover, so we have carved out a niche for ourselves with this microtechnology and we have managed to become a benchmark in the gaming sector in Spain,” he explains.
Muñoz makes it clear that “business is very difficult if you do it alone. Fortunately, we have always been associated with UGR Emprendedora, which has provided us with information, tools and memory, which has made it easier for us”. When asked if he would recommend entrepreneurship, he does not hesitate: “Of course, I think it is a journey that anyone who has an idea or a project should go through to check how solid their idea is, and also to learn how to pivot or reject many others”.
For Laura Matova, the UGR Emprendedora experience was “very positive, both in terms of learning and on a human level, as in addition to providing a great deal of knowledge and tools on entrepreneurship, I was also able to meet an incredible network of entrepreneurs and professionals in the sector who help to enrich and improve the experience of entrepreneurship itself”.
As part of his sustainable craft project called WallieWood, he and his partner Raúl recycle broken skateboards that are no longer used for skateboarding and create unique decorations and jewellery using the aesthetics and nature of skateboard wood. “This project came about in the middle of the pandemic, when my partner and I were out of work (we were both working in the hotel industry) and decided to move to the village of Castril, where my parents live, to get away from the suffocating city and change of scenery. We had an old family carpentry shop. I was always interested in design and manual work, and Raúl studied furniture design and manufacture for years; without realising it, we had the tools and the space to do what we really liked,” he explains.
An international platform
He says that the creation of the different wooden pieces and skateboards came about gradually. “We decided to publish some products on an international platform for handmade products and, to our surprise, some of the pieces we published started to sell. Little by little, we professionalised the project by expanding our product range, digital marketing and social media strategies, created our own website and gradually saw the acceptance and success of our project. After three or four months of trials (and errors), I decided to go ahead with the project. It was then that I was introduced to UGR Emprendedora, where they helped me to develop my business plan and, above all, to acquire business and legal knowledge”, Laura recalls.
He admits that in the last year his life “has changed completely”. It is true that the path of entrepreneurship has many ups and downs, but thanks to all the effort and determination, today I can say that I love my work and that I have chosen to do something I really enjoy”.
UGR Emprendedora has 111 projects underway.