23. oktober 2019

How to start a business as an exchange student at UCPH

Are you dreaming of starting your own business? Exchange students Magdalena and Julia from Germany made their own business with help from the UCPH Innovation Hubs. Their advice to others? Just do it!

One of the first things the German exchange students Julia and Magdalena noticed when coming to Denmark was the huge focus on sustainability and the environment. So shortly after arriving, they decided to be a part of this:

“During our six months in Copenhagen we were so impressed by how much focus there was on sustainability and we were inspired to be a part of that movement. If everybody decides to live a sustainable life, a lot can be done to save the environment.”

While being exchange students at UCPH, Julia and Magdalena started Wine Club.

That is why they made WineClub, a wine business with the philosophy that only grapes from a healthy and vivified soil can make exceptional wines.

“Our idea is to produce wine as close to nature, as sustainable and as environmentally friendly as possible inspired by the Danish green movement. Our aim is to take the best from organic production but not use ‘heavy metal’ like copper as it kills earthworms and microorganisms in the soil. “

How do we make a business?

Both Magdalena and Julia grew up in wineries so it was always clear that they were going to make their own wine someday. Julia is studying winemaking and Magdalena wine business and both of them decided to do an exchange semester in Copenhagen to get more knowledge of microorganisms and yeasts for wine as well as to learn more about the business and marketing side.

In the first block of the semester, they had a course called ’Business Development and Innovation’ where they were introduced to the UCPH Innovation Hubs and presented to the idea of starting their own business.

The Hub offers both working space and a student startup community, which is very cool!

Magdalena, exchange student at UCPH

That was the starting point for WineClub, says Magdalena: “In the Innovation Hub we learned several tools for how to make a startup step by step. For example, Dorthe Lynnerup and Frederik Nygaard from the Hub motivated us to actually go out and talk to people instead of ‘hiding behind our laptops’, and that really helped our business.”

Julia continues: “The Hub offers both working space and a student startup community, which is very cool because you can talk to other people from other startups and learn with and from them.“

Advice to others: just do it!

Asked if Magdalena and Julia would recommend starting a startup as international students at UCPH, the answer is clear from both of them:

“We would definitely recommend it, even if you know it’s only for a limited time. Our advice would be to start right away with your business idea. We were only part of the UCPH Innovation Hub for 8 weeks because we were about to return to Germany and we could certainly have used more time! If you know that you want to start a business, you should use the help of the Hub from the beginning so you at least have one semester.”

How to be a part of the UCPH Innovation Hubs

Magdalena and Julia are not the only international students who have been part of the UCPH Innovation Hubs. Both exchange and full degree students are right now working on different startups with great success. Dorte Lynnerup is the daily manager of one of the three Innovation Hubs, SCIENCE Innovation Hub, and she was a mentor for WineClub:

Want to start your own business?

UCPH Innovation Hub offer office spaces, a network and community of entrepreneurial students and free and confidential counseling and coaching to all students who want to start their own project or business. Read more here.

“It has been tremendously exciting to follow the journey of Magdalena and Julia. They have been able to test their idea of WineClub on the Danish wine market. We see how international students contribute to other ways of thinking than a typical Danish student. So international students are more than welcome to join us!”

The three hubs offer office space, a network and community of entrepreneurial students and free and confidential counselling and coaching to all students who want to start their own project or business.

The future for WineClub

As exchange students at UCPH both Magdalena and Julia had to go back to finish their studies in Germany:

“We are really sad that we had to go back and leave our mentor Dorthe and business developer Frederik from the UCPH Innovation Hub back in Copenhagen as our meetings were always a big help,” they say.

We would like to come back to Copenhagen next year when our first wines are bottled.

Magdalena, exchange student at UCPH

During their time at the Innovation Hub they did a lot of research on the Danish wine market and therefore they hope to present their wine in Copenhagen soon:

“We got a really good insight into the Danish wine market. We met up with sommeliers working in restaurants, wine sellers working in wine special retail shops as well as importers in Copenhagen. We would like to come back to Copenhagen next year when our first wines are bottled. The plan is to meet up with these people again and see what they think about our wine. Being directly in Copenhagen was very good for networking!” says Magdalena. 

By Rebecca Eva Bodnia