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Experience 24 H Challenge behind curtain



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Making of 24 H Challenge 

Let’s get more in detail about what is 24 H challenge and how it is made with the questions of what, who, how, and motive. After getting to know the concept more, we will go over own experience on it.

What? 

What is 24-hour challenge? 24-hour challenge is an innovation event organized by Proakatemia’s students for the graduating teams of Proakatemia. It is the final challenge for the graduating teams, where they are able to show off their skills and what they have learned during their years of study. It is a feat where the teams are challenged and pushed to their limits. In the event, teams are faced with a business-related challenge by a partner and expected to solve it in the next 24 hours. They need to provide a comprehensive report of the solution and pitch the solution to the partner in front of the community of Proakatemia. Based on the solution, report and pitch the partners will grade the performance and reward the team with a cash prize for the work.  

Who? 

Who makes this event happen? Proakatemia’s students have been selected based on their skills and motivation. The project team has two “generations” of students. Meaning half of the team members have already done the event once and are the leading group and half of the team members are recruited in their first year of study and are organizing it for the first time. Usually, the new members of the project team are recruited at the beginning of a year, so they are able to hop on to the project early on. The size of the project team is from 6-8 people because the event organizing requires people to focus on different things but also because the team mostly works only once a week until there is only one month to the event. When joining the project team the member is expected to be on the project for two years. This is made so the preliminaries of the event can be started in the spring and the knowledge of organizing the event is passed down.  

The project team is led by the project manager and coached by Proakatemias coach. The project manager manages that the task is taken care of by the team members, so the project can happen. The coach is there to offer to spar and sharing leads for the team. Also because the event is required for the graduating teams, there is no room for the event not to be organized. The team bonds in the making of the event and are rewarded in the end with a salary and dinner, to celebrate the job done well. 

How? 

How is this event organized? For the events organizing it is separated to two parts. Because part one needs to be completed for most parts for the part two can be started or pursuited. It can be thought like a GANT chart, where the parts are interdependent.  

The first part to prepare for the event is getting the partners. Even though it is an event the most important priority is to get partners who would provide the challenge for the graduating teams. Because if there are no partners there is no event. The process of getting the partners is the longest and by far the hardest part of the work. You are selling innovation for companies and convincing them to pay from 0 to 5 000 euros for it depending on the grade and solution. Potential partners and companies are contacted already in the springtime by project team members. Firstly will be contacted people who were interested in the concept but didn’t take part in it last time because of their reason but wished to be contacted regarding it next time well in advance. This takes a lot of time and works from the team. To help the team to succeed in this part is good to work a lead list of potential clients, keep track of how many contacting members have done, and practice cold calling.  

The second part is planning and organizing the event. All the preparation regarding the event needs to do. Invitations were sent to the graduating teams, partners, school staff, and Proakatemia’s students. The theme of the event is needed to be chosen and all the materials have to be done in the theme as well as getting the decoration for the stage in the theme. Luckily the project team has access to the materials from previous years and is able to check and get inspiration from there. Serve rooms for the event. Proakatemia’s coaches, alumni, and some students need to be contacted and asked to participate as judges, hosts, id person, photographers, and scribers for the event. Getting all the technology that is needed, like lights and cameras. Also, there is a need to contact companies for arranging sponsorships for the event. The project team also needs to take care that the premises the graduating team is at are clean, it has paper and pen. Graduating teams are also receiving breakfast in the morning as a part of the event. There needs to be a plan and schedule made for the event days and practiced so everyone in the project team knows what are their responsibilities and what is happening and when.  

Motive? 

What is the motive for arranging this event? It can be about money or about creating value. The project team gets a salary for creating the event because of all the work they have put in. But because it is an event that all the graduating year students are needed going to go through it can be done also by wanting to create the experience for the teams and hoping when your team’s time comes, that it is done as well as you were doing it. The project brings a lot of learning while doing it. You are able to learn for example about cold calling, pitching, contacting companies, information sharing, event planning, sponsorship deals, reporting, people managing, and managing yourself. There is also the perk of knowing the partners before anybody else because it is held secret until it is revealed in the event.  

Reflection? 

Reflecting on my own experience of the 24 H Challenge what it was like to be a part of the team project who made it happen this fall semester 2022.  

When I applied heard about it and applied to be part of it, I knew that I wanted to be part of it because I want to make the English version of it great and make it a working concept. Because for now it has been only held in Finnish because all the graduating teams have been Finnish spoken. But next year 2023 fall semester there will be the first English spoken team who is going to graduate and who is going to take part in the 24 H Challenge. I see it to be a big thing and want to create the experience best possible for the next year’s graduating team FLIP Solution and its members. For me, that was the motive and because I am able to speak both Finnish and English it was no language issue regarding organizing it this year for only Finnish spoken.  

In the recruiting process, it was pressed that the project is only 25 % about organizing the event and 75 % about selling innovation to companies. This was made so the new members would have the right image of the event. Luckily I was chosen to be part of it and it was really exciting and a place where I was also able to make new friends.  

At the start of my journey in the project, we were doing some little team bonding and the older team members who had already organized the event briefly explained what the event is and what it is about and we were able to ask questions about it. Then when we knew what it was we worked together as a team making the selling materials and familiarise ourselves more in cold calling. After the preparations for the selling were made we were given small weekly goals to motivate us to cold call and selling the innovation to the companies. The start was a bit rocky when I was making my first calls but with practice and time it has gotten better. 

In the end of the callings we were able to have 4 partners we gotten from contacting and calling.

Cold calling 

From the cold calling, I was able to learn how to research companies and see if they are potential for the event or not. For that there is a need to do a background check of the company, get to know what is their financial state, if the company has any trouble that can be seen for example in the news or while looking at their website, then try to figure out who to contact in the company and where to get their contact. In the list belove is given some of the main points when cold calling 

  1. The research about the company is important because when talking to the person from the company it is good to know what kind of things you can talk about with them and what is relevant for them. But the talk about the person you are contacting has to be somehow publicly found information and not found on their personal media, because then it is can be seen as stalking.  
  2. Pitching of the product or to say the lift talk. You need to present your product in 2-4 minutes in an interesting way that will arouse interest in them so they want to continue the talk with you.  
  3. Pitch also needs to come in a friendly way and you need to be able to talk with the person more than only about business and what you are selling. The better connection you make with the person the better chance there is that they will want to continue the talk or make business with you.  
  4. Make plans with the person you are calling for continuing contacting. For example, if they ask to send the material to their email is also good to ask them when is a good time for them to call them so you are able to continue the talk/selling. 
  5. Contacting the person if they do not pick up the phone when you are calling. Then the good way is to send a message regarding why you have tried to contact them and asking when would be a good time for contact. Or also keep calling and trying to contact the person but not by doing it too strongly.   
Event

Starting to plan the event and organize the event days started more int the fall semester 2022. In the fall the team was focused on getting the partners but also finalizing andmaking the event. For that there needed to be information shared with graduating teams and other who were implied t o the event. Also for the event there needed to be contacting of sponsors and getting sponsors for the event. with sponsors we needed to go over how their company gets visibility in the event and make sure it followed Proakatemia’s guidelines and brand. Biggest thing to do before the event was to organize and think everything in the paper and make it working. Dividing the task and giving out responsible areas and making minute schedule. In the event day it was funny to see how the members of project team were able to find many mistakes but for the people there everything went perfectly.

Conclusion

24-H Challenge is one of the hardest project in Proakatemia, because it is mandatory for graduating teams and is big community celebration. From my own experience the making of 24-H challenge was hard but fun.


References:

Materials of 24 H Challenge in Teams

The experience

Lee E. 2022. The ABC of successful event planning, Asgard.

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