Entrepreneurship Goes Global: A Lesson In Failing First

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Entrepreneurship Goes Global: A Lesson In Failing First

By Samantha Dewalt

Last summer, Oren Roznitsky learned an important lesson about how to succeed: keep failing first.


All through June and July, Oren, a senior at Lehigh University, gained this valuable insight serving as an intern with host start-up company Coffee Trace in the Global Entrepreneurship Fellowship program (GEF) under the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter.


“I would fail until I learned to better communicate with my officers,” Oren wrote in his journal. “I would fail until I realized one of my biggest resources were my friends in the cohort who, like me, were learning how to adapt in the same ways. Likewise, I would fail until I learned to proactively ask the questions that I thought would help me throughout my day when I indulge in independent work.”


Last summer, 12 lucky Lehigh students from all backgrounds and disciplines devoted eight weeks to a full-time internship with a startup that could be located anywhere in the world. The students had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a hands-on education in entrepreneurship alongside company leaders who are confronting real-world business issues.


All 12 students this past summer kept journals to chronicle the experience, and some common denominators and recurring themes emerged. They cited the value of everything from asking questions, communicating effectively, collaborating yet operating independently, breaking free from your comfort zone, and cultivating a global entrepreneurial mindset.


Take Grant Kim. He was assigned to be a project management and business development intern with an early-stage Dutch start-up, Tasty Talks, an Airbnb-style platform for food events in people’s homes. In his role he contributed heavily, organizing a team drive, devising a Gantt chart, setting up a Trello board to track deliverables and generally managing workflows. Working closely with the founder, he met other student entrepreneurs in Rotterdam – including some fleeing from the war in Ukraine – and ultimately came to see entrepreneurship through a global lens.


“I had known little about the Dutch work style, communication, and culture,” he wrote. “Dutch culture is more community-oriented and littered with local stores rather than big chains like in the U.S. They also eat out less. Different cultures require different marketing strategies. This helped me develop a more global entrepreneurial mindset.”


As happened with Grant, students selected for the GEF can develop cross-cultural competencies typically unavailable through classroom learning. For the past four summers, interns from the program have joined companies such as CoworkIn (India), Tenl.io (United Arab Emirates), and Zen Educate (United Kingdom), to name just a few. Case in point: Lehigh student Amelia Gankhuyang interned with Reseda Lifesciences, a manufacturer and wholesaler headquartered in Karnataka, India, all while working from her home in Mongolia, in East Asia.

Just ask Hayden Ossinger about the professional benefits that accrue from going global. He interned with uGlobally, a team of international entrepreneurs, in the Netherlands. He focused mainly on developing the audience database for the company. That meant automating the process for collecting and organizing data about visitors to its website.


“I loved working with my startup,” Hayden wrote. “I have never worked in an environment like it before. It was super fun because nothing I learned was old information. I broadened my perspective and my view of myself as an entrepreneur changed. I went into the GEF program thinking that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. But I came out knowing I want to be an entrepreneur.”

GEF students have majored in subjects spanning the spectrum from finance and computer engineering to accounting and international relations. They all receive a generous stipend to cover the costs of living, plus funding for airfare and other travel expenses over the summer. In the end, the fellows deliver a live presentation, highlighting the impact they made and the lessons they learned, on the big stage at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco.


Oren Roznitsky got a chance during his stint to talk with guest speakers, who drastically changed his perspective on how anyone comes to be an entrepreneur in the first place.


“For starters,” he wrote, “no one planned to be an entrepreneur. They each worked their way up from different backgrounds, majors, professions, and cultures. In other words, there is no set path to being an entrepreneur, nor is there a certain identity that defines one.”


Indeed. As it happens, that’s a cornerstone philosophy that the GEF – and the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter itself – embrace above all. Anyone can be an entrepreneur, and, further, maybe everyone should be. And sometimes only going around the world truly brings that idea home.


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The Global Entrepreneurial Fellowship is a program offered through Lehigh@NasdaqCenter in partnership with the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation. For summer 2023, the program will join forces and become part of the Lehigh Startup Academy.