On July 11th, I was one of the entrepreneurs to join the *ship – The Startup Festival in Kotka, Finland.

Founded in 2015, the *ship brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to gain practical experience. The entrepreneurs are invited to work with esteemed mentors from different companies to develop their ideas and goals.

This year, the Festival welcomed over hundred young entrepreneurs to scenic Kotka. We got to participate in a number of wonderful professional and social networking events: including but not limited to a phenomenal founders cruise off of the coast of Kotka.

What was it in for me?

As a founder of a (relatively) newly created social enterprise, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to connect with other companies that ranged from corporate infancy to well-developed thriving businesses. The diverse range of corporate development allowed everyone to serve a role: newer companies took advantage of relatively older companies’ experiences to get ideas for their future; while relatively seasoned companies benefited from newer companies’ fresh take. Mentoring was both formal and informal as young bright eyed entrepreneurs were able to learn from their assigned mentors and peers.

“I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet and network with fellow entrepreneurs and mentors to get a better understanding of my work and my role in it.”

The best part, however, was the Pitching Competition. In this event, young entrepreneurs were challenged to condense their entire corporate initiative into a three minute speech. Presented in front of a panel of judges, young entrepreneurs had to hook the audience, explain their pitch, and outline a cogent call to action. This was especially challenging considering there were so many pitches.

Yet, the limited time period and large number of participants forced the speakers to be innovative and engaging. It was quite wonderful to sit through all of the pitches and see the wonderful work that my colleagues are doing to make the world a better place. It was even cooler to see the different initiatives illustrated on the wall. It gave better understanding of how they see themselves and their work.

I am so grateful to the organizers for setting up such a wonderful and engaging event. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to meet and network with fellow entrepreneurs, as well as mentors for better understanding my work and my role in it. I hope to see future conferences, like *ship, so we can figure out ways to collaborate to build a better world.

Author: Rory Mondshein is a masters of human rights student at the London School of Economics. She is also the Founder and CEO of Make It Appn, which is a mobile application that centralizes social services and allows users to book a homeless shelter for those in need.