LIFE AS A STUDENT ENTREPRENEUR

LIFE AS A STUDENT ENTREPRENEUR: A BALANCING ACT

 

Being a university student at Copenhagen Business School while at the same time being an entrepreneur can at times feel difficult as well as it at other times can fill you up with the most energetic drive and passion. Behind Novaheim, we are a team of two young women. Both of us are full time master’s students besides working on establishing our business together. Since the beginning of the year where we started working on our startup, we have faced the challenge of balancing university, entrepreneurship, student jobs, workout, and social life. It has been overwhelming, it has been up and down, and it has been compromising and prioritizing. However, for every month that has gone by, we have become more experienced about how to master being a full time university student while starting a company.

 

Prioritization is key

Very early in the process, we learned – and more importantly, we admitted to ourselves – that we cannot be the best at everything. Every semester at university requires a lot of reading and assignments to hand in while a start-up comes with several deadlines for grants to apply, events to attend, and in our case, creative workshops to execute at asylum centers. When you face endless to-do lists and feel that you need the week to last another two days, you might need to stop up and approach the issue that you simply do not have time to do everything with perfection. This is what we did – we had to master the art of prioritizing what assignments and tasks we wanted to do very well and which ones we would allow ourselves to do less well in order to keep the stress at a manageable level that would allow us to enjoy the process.

 

Self-Expectations

Many university students have high expectations for themselves – this includes us at Novaheim. We have always, and will always, strive to do our best, but we have also come to the conclusion that it is necessary to adjust our expectations in order to feel satisfied about the goals we reach instead of focusing on the ones we do not reach. Entrepreneurship is very much about striving for your goals and keep believing in your idea, but we believe that a little sense of reality won’t hurt you as it will be hard to remain motivated if your self-expectations are setting you up for constant disappointment.

Related to this is also the ability to allow yourself to change plans without blaming yourself that your initial plan did not work out.

 

Drive and passion

With all this said, the real secret behind balancing university and life as an entrepreneurship is the drive and passion that come with being involved in both activities. We are so privileged that we have the opportunity to get the education we want while starting our dream company, which is for us what gives us the needed drive and passion to balance the two activities. When it gets tough at times, we have also learned that it is crucial to keep reminding each other and ourselves why we are doing what we are doing. In this respect, we are grateful to be a team of two with the opportunity to boost each other when needed.

 

MEET THE STARTUP: NOVAHEIM

MEET THE STARTUP: NOVAHEIM

 

 

We have known each other for life. As kids, we were all about similar pageboy cuts and play – ignorant of the fact that we would stand by each other’s side and register our own company 25 years later. Today, we have a lot more in common. We are obsessed with design and share the same educational degree in intercultural communication. It is full of ambition and motivation to make a difference that we have decided to turn our common passions, our skills and knowledge and not least our friendship into a startup adventure. We are Emilie and Marie-Louise – founders of Novaheim.

 

What is Novaheim?

Novaheim is a Danish design brand offering sustainable and customized home accessories handmade by women at asylum centers. The process connected to seeking asylum is often long drawn-out and marked by uncertainty. Without residence permit, the opportunities of keeping busy are limited which means that both valuable time and skills are wasted. With Novaheim, we therefore aim to turn lost time and skills among awaiting women at asylum centers into meaningful activity, learning, and hopes for a brighter future. Our products are purposely crocheted by hand because needlework has several mental benefits. This is a priority to us because many of the women we work with carry traumatic experiences with them.

 

Novaheim is first of all deeply rooted in our passion for Scandinavian design. However, it is also founded on our desire to make a positive impact in all aspects possible. We have both travelled the world, lived abroad, and we have studied communication in an intercultural perspective. With our fascination for diversity and our concerns about the societal development, we have made it our goal to create common ground across cultures. We want to pass on stories, and we do so by means of high-quality products for the home that takes the world into consideration.

We aim at sourcing sustainable materials for our production, and each product is handmade with great care and accompanied with a story about the women behind it. We do not aim to follow seasons and we include the customer in the design process by providing the opportunity to customize the products. With the customer’s personal investment, the goal is to prolong the life of each product and avoid waste in an industry otherwise marked by mass production.

With our business model, we want to approach design differently than what we often see – more holistically and with greater care for people, environment, and society.

 

Launching fall 2017

There is always a long way from idea to reality and nothing comes easy. For us, the idea was first sparked over a Skype call back in November 2016. In March, we started a pilot project at an asylum center north of Copenhagen, and at the end of May we made an agreement with the Red Cross about a collaboration starting in September. It has taken us a lot of time and effort to get where we are now, but we feel more energized than ever!

We are currently working on tying up the loose ends in order to prepare for our launch in the fall. We are super excited and cannot wait to provide our customers with beautiful home accessories while making a difference for the Danish society.

 

Emilie & Marie-Louise // Novaheim