When Team Academy alumni Teddy Uijttewaal shared her journey with the Team Academy community I was blown away! In just 15 minutes she shared so many valuable lessons inspiring everyone present. However, I wanted to know more, I wanted to discover the ups and downs in her journey, her entrepreneurial adventures during and after Team Academy, and to share these with our community so we can pass on the learning and pay it forward. I sat down with Teddy, and together we wrote down her story to share with you.
Teddy Uijttewaal, TA Graduate, Class of 2017
Teddy’s Team Academy journey started at Team Academy’s first location in Amsterdam: B Building, a building full of startups. After taking a gap year, she still had difficulties deciding what to study. That’s when her mom mentioned Team Academy’s BBA in Entrepreneurship. From the start, it felt like somewhere she had found where she supposed to be. She felt as if she’d arrived in an unusual family of diverse yet like-minded people.
Shortly after starting at Team Academy, she had her first business idea: making and selling dreamcatcher bracelets and necklaces she loved from Australia. Together with her team member Jeannot, she started Gena Jewellery in 2015 and even got a stand at Amsterdam Open Air, an exciting achievement! They were all ready and hyped for the event, ready for the big kickoff. However, they arrived and after months of work they sold nothing. This was the lowest point in her first year. She had great expectations and had put so much time and energy into making the products. In her words, ”It’s the lowlight every Team Academy student will feel once, but it should also give you the energy to start something new which will then succeed.”
During the rest of the first year Teddy continued searching for the right project. After her initial discouragement she wasn’t taking Team Academy seriously enough, she wasn’t 100% present at all times. As a result her team challenged her on this, together they reflected on the situation: “We are a team, and together we’ll prepare and participate in sessions, visit companies, and achieving our money goal. How can we make this our problem? Let’s make this teamwork!”
This was the push she needed to realize the seriousness of her studies, and from that moment on she worked as hard as she could. By putting in the effort, while also appreciating the experience, the program seemed to fly by until all of a sudden whe had graduated, without any apparent stress or struggles.
One of the highlights of the program was a collaboration with another student Claudia Deken. Business mentor Marc Ernst connected Claudia, who is interested in administration and finance, to Teddy’s creative mind, so they could join forces. It turned out to be a very productive company and collaboration, and in December 2016 they started their crowdfunding company Fundology.
When there was an announcement by the Dutch Commercial Chamber’s Beta Challenge to participate in designing a tool for any starting entrepreneur, they thought of participating. “Is it the right next step to take, are we ready for the next challenge?” YES, they were. They signed up and seized the opportunity!
The pair worked on the challenge, designed an online tool connecting entrepreneurs to a crowdfunding platform and with this, they reached the finals! They were the youngest contestants and had three minutes to pitch their idea to the jury, audience and potential investors. The pair had a mindblowing pitch and although they didn’t win the contest, they did win the audience prize and the whole Team Academy community was extremely proud of Fundology!
This pitch actually leads Teddy to a job at Professional Rebel during her studies, where they wanted her energetic personality, and where she still works as a leadership trainer. She gives training and courses in personal leadership, innovation, mindset and culture to young professionals, team leads and larger teams.
“Team Academy gave me the tools to be where I am now,” Teddy says. “Team Academy connects people, taught me to follow through, and to collaborate. The entire community should help each other, regardless of the year you’re in. Share knowledge and work together. But, it’s also the student’s character which makes the formula work. You have to do it yourself and put energy in it. You have to have the right mindset, be prepared to fail and get up and to invest. It might seem easy peasy, but this is not the case. Team Academy will help you, but the question is, how are YOU making sure you are getting the best from these four years, as you only get to experience them once!”
The valuable lessons from this story? Find your own, these are mine:
- say YES to every opportunity, take chances, you never know what it will bring you
- it’s OK to fail and to not sell your products in the beginning, it’s part of your journey
- teamwork really makes the dream work
- share knowledge within the community and educate each other
- you are responsible for your own growth, own it!
Enjoy the journey!
Sales & Marketing, Team Academy[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]