From a sales freelancer to a founder and a CEO – this has been the journey of Povilas Klimas and many others who took the opportunity to get business training abroad with the help of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) programme. The programme, financed by the EU, allows people of any age who have no or very limited business experience to get a traineeship in another country and learn the trade of running a business. The application process is straight-forward, and many report that this experience gave them a boost of confidence and courage to start a business of their own when they came back. So far, more than 8,500 exchanges have taken place since 2009 and you can easily become one of the entrepreneurs participating in this programme!
“When starting a business, new founders encounter a lot of ‘unknowns’ – how to attract funding, find valuable connections, generate sales, increase customer value, to name a few. EYE provides entrepreneurs with a possibility to get feedback and support from more experienced founders”, says Goda Jonaitytė, representative of Startup Division, one of the organizations implementing the EYE programme in Lithuania.
Evaluating the potential of scaling, meeting clients, generating sales, defining the marketing strategy are just some of the activities that young entrepreneurs undertake together with their hosts. Moreover, this programme is ideal for those looking to establish their businesses in foreign markets – you have an opportunity to travel to a chosen country and see how businesses operate there. Among the top destinations are Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Belgium, but the list does not end here – most of the EU countries participate in this programme, together with USA, Singapore, and Israel.
“Before my exchange, I was working as a sales freelancer, I had ideas about growing my own business but hesitation kept me back. I wanted to see how international business is run”, this is why Povilas Klimas, one of the EYE alumni, decided to apply to the programme. ” EYE programme gave me the chance to work at an international digital marketing company in Florence, Man-Super!. During a month abroad I got this determination to start my own business and the first thing I did when I came back was rent an office and hire the first employee. Being abroad gave me the courage that I needed and showed me that there are plenty of opportunities.” Today Povilas is running a successful startup – he is a CEO and founder of FogoSales, a company that is running sales processes for various businesses on a sub-contracting basis.
New entrepreneurs are not the only ones learning in this process – by helping new or aspiring founders with their ideas, the hosts benefit from fresh perspectives on their businesses as well. Ieva Ščerbauskaitė, another EYE alumni, went on an exchange because she wanted to change her career from legal to corporate social responsibility and leadership. During her exchange, she worked in a consulting company in Belgium and contributed to its restructuring process. “My job was to lead the team through the process of building the identity of the company (their mission, vision, values and products). I have also completed a business environment analysis that led to a shift in their business line.” After the programme, Ieva continues to work as a freelancer. Last year she also joined Lithuanian Railways, where she works as a Change Manager. “This experience changed my understanding of what it means to build a business. It gave me the confidence that I can be competitive and successful on the European scale.”
Kristijonas Klimaitis took part in the EYE exchange programme last spring – he spent 4.5 months in Singapore, learning the ins and outs of digital marketing business from his mentor Jason Lim, who runs a Social Media and Digital Marketing consultancy Stratgeist. “Meetings with clients, reviewing clients’ Facebook Ads strategy, researching advertising regulations of the health sector in Singapore, and preparing a LinkedIn content strategy for the clients were the tasks I had to implement already in the first week” – recalls Kristijonas. Having completed his exchange, Kristijonas came back to Lithuania and launched his own growth marketing agency – Growth Attacker, providing services to B2B clients in IT, design, marketing and cybersecurity.
Would you like to become a part of the EYE community and learn from experienced entrepreneurs abroad? Apply to the EYE programme now! If you have any questions or need assistance with your application, contact Startup Division at firstname.lastname@example.org