The 24 hours Business Challenge is a student-led project that involved a 24 hours challenge for 4 teams of students who had to come up with a business plan prompted by a brief they received on the day. 

Ioana, a 11 Delta student, was the initiator of this project, which she organised with the support of Maria – 12 Alfa and Horia – 10 Alfa, serving as co-project managers.

They were supported by Valentin Brabete, Teacher of Economics and Business Studies, and 19 volunteers who collaborated to put in place this business marathon, which took place in the Avenor Arena.

We invite you to read the interview below to find out more details about this project initiated and entirely coordinated by our students.

Ioana, how did this project come about? What was your motivation to organise a business challenge?

Before coming up with the idea for The 24h Business Challenge, I was on a quest to find a scholarship project which would be representative of my own passions but also relevant to the school community.

I started noticing the interests of my peers and considered existing projects before drawing the conclusion that many students at Avenor are business-oriented, yet there aren’t many opportunities, at least in my year, to develop entrepreneurial skills and perspectives. 

Once I started thinking about entrepreneurship, the ideas followed naturally and the concept of the event came up during one of my many spontaneous brainstorming sessions in the hallways with Mr. Brabete. He was the one who suggested the sleepover aspect and together with Maria and Horia we developed a solid plan.

My motivation for organising a business challenge came from the desire to bring together the school community in an entrepreneurial context where the broad concept of “business” could be dissected and understood on a deeper level. We casually talk about business in our daily conversations, however, the business is constantly evolving and not many fully comprehend its continuously-expanding margins. 

What was the schedule for the day?

Our organising team arrived at 8.30 on Saturday to set up the final touches after working on arranging the floor the previous evening. At around 10 AM we opened the event with a brief introduction of the theme (Social Entrepreneurship) and welcomed our workshop hosts: Diana Segarceanu (Marketing), Andrei Rosu (Entrepreneurship & Social Impact), Cornel Danila (Finance) and Monica Dudoiu (Leadership). They each held interactive workshops that left our participants speechless and made me personally wish I was an attendant. 

Related to the challenge brief, we themed the decor of the Arena as a camping site. We had flowers on the working desks and a little meadow with pillows and tree trunks gathered in a circle around a cauldron. Every time an event stage started or ended we played traditional music and everyone knew to gather in the meadow.

During the snack break, we prepared a team-building exercise that brought laughter and released energy. The winning team was allowed a 20-minute Q&A session regarding the brief with Mr. Valentin, our coordinating teacher.

The lunch was  sponsored by HORECA Culinary School, followed by an afternoon where students managed their own time and worked on the challenge.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, the teams initiated volleyball games and dance breaks to help them reset before going back to work, building friendships and thriving in the company of their peers.

We started the morning early, the team setting up the breakfast products provided by Laptaria cu Caimac and Filgud while the challenge participants woke up to music and got ready for the final day.

They had some more time to do their final preparations and rehearse the presentations before our esteemed judges, Cristina Willows, Andrei Dudoiu and Felix Patrascanu, arrived.

The teams presented the projects they put in work and passion throughout the night and confidently answered the questions from the judges. Each team received thoughtful feedback and not long after the final decisions were made. 

We had a lovely closing ceremony where we presented the winning teams with certificates and announced their prizes (Summerwell tickets for the winning team, internships at Fan Curier for the runner-ups), followed by a warm thank you and diploma awarding ceremony for the organising team, who stayed until 3 pm to reset and clean the Arena and cafeteria.

I couldn’t be prouder of the hardworking, cheerful and resilient team who gave life to this project and I am forever grateful to our workshop hosts, judges and sponsors, who helped make it happen.

Maria, what were the most challenging moments in organising this project?

Since I chose to be part of this project, I’ve had a great dose of positivity regarding any “impediment,” “problem,” or difficulty that might arise in our process. And that’s because I believed wholeheartedly in the potential of this idea, in the magic of shaping our dream and turning it into reality, regardless of anything. 

Although it sounds like a cliché, I firmly believe that absolutely anything in this world is possible if we have faith while putting love and joy into our visions. And this project demonstrated this to me once again. 

To answer the question specifically, one of the most challenging moments was when there were very few days left until the event date and we didn’t have many registered participants. In fact, we knew we couldn’t hold it. I’ve had some intense days full of fear, as there was no option in my head to cancel the event. Behind these emotions were constant thoughts about the entire team of over 18 people together with mister Valentin Brabete, who had put effort into working these months with the best intentions for what was about to happen. Almost everything was sorted out, with speakers, judges, and sponsors taking their time to support us in every way that they could. 

Although I remained very confident and believed that somehow we could still “solve” the situation, I had some tougher moments of breakdown and anxiety, from which I learned a lot about myself.

Other hard moments to witness were during the event itself, at night, when I observed the 4 teams working on the challenge. It was very hard for me to see moments when they were exhausted and drained from so much hard work. I constantly felt the need to encourage them or to do anything to ease their effort. I was genuinely shocked to see how much motivation, strength, perseverance, optimism, intelligence, humour, inner balance, and above all, empathy, existed in my colleagues. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to discover them. It’s something beyond words what they’ve managed to accomplish during this competition.

It was a deeply cherished project that will always remain in my heart. And that’s especially because of the real connections and unique relationships we formed, with some rare human beings who I’m sure will make this world a better place. ✨

Although I could never stop writing about everything we’ve experienced, I have to conclude somehow. 

This whole experience was about people, with people, and for people. And that was the backbone of this project, from my point of view! ❤️

Horia, what surprised you the most in the process of organising this event?

One of the first things, and one of the most important things in the process of organising this event was choosing our team. 

In the beginning, despite the clear differences between the people we ended up selecting for this team due to the fact that we have worked in a different style than usual, this being a combination of students ranging from 9th graders up until 12th graders. These differences have clearly imposed certain difficulties and sometimes even tensions, but I was pleasantly surprised to see just how well we, as a team, have managed to work together. The sheer support and the utter motivation I have seen from everybody involved in this project has clearly made it an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

However, it is crucial to also mention what surprised me during the actual day in which the event took place. Despite the challenges brought towards the participants by the brief, I was shocked to see the dedication that certain participants showed throughout the entirety of the event. Even at really late hours, I could still see the dedication that they were portraying, which I can admit was not only hard to acknowledge at that moment, but it still currently is. 

The fact that our ideas have blossomed into a project which has got a big chunk of the Avenor community involved is still something that I’m thinking about even to this day, and I cannot thank everyone enough for all of the work put into this project.

Vali, what are your thoughts after supporting and subsequently observing this project?

We have amazing kids, as you already know, and it is truly a privilege to work with them and see them pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and learning. Competitors and organising teams have raised the bar and modelled very high levels of responsibility and professionalism. The organising team got to school Saturday at 08:30, and the last of us left Sunday at 15:30. The competition lasted 24 hours excluding training and judging time. 

It was absolutely impressive to see some of our students still working at 04:00 in the morning, while others were sleeping having decided to finish work immediately after they woke up. The quality of their business proposals was extraordinary, particularly taking in consideration the young age of students participating in the competition (grades 8 and 9). They received high praises from the members of the jury and feedback to reflect on for the future.” says Valentin Brabete, Teacher of Economics and Business Studies.