Inspiring the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Zafira Castano Corsino  •  August 1, 2023

For this blog post, we invited Zafira Castano-Corsino to share her perspective on a recent Innovation Camp hosted by her foundation and featuring our CEO Jonathan Thon as a guest speaker.

IMFAHE is a Boston-based non-profit organization established in 2015 as an international mentoring foundation focused on advancing higher education. A major focus of the IMFAHE has been the development of an education platform in which leaders from academia and industry come together to promote innovation and drive collaborative opportunities.

We recently concluded a two-day Innovation Camp, held in Langreo, a town in northern Spain, that is an important mining and metallurgical center. While many residents are employed by local coal mines, a high level of unemployment and a perceived lack of opportunities have driven many residents to seek new prospects abroad. Our primary goal in hosting this event was to inspire local young people to become entrepreneurs and bring innovation to the region. With the support of the Regional Minister of Innovation and Education and four international experts, including STRM’s CEO Jonathan Thon, participants were exposed trends in a wide range of fields and learned about the tools required for adopting and applying an entrepreneurial mindset.

More than forty participants, ranging in age from 14 to 30, started their entrepreneurial journey with an intense ideation session with experts from various industries in the Netherlands, UK, and the United States. Following this was a session, participants had time to think about the creation of possible ventures. To help guide them in their exploration of ideas were presentations on how to design a business plan and pitch investors. The camp culminated in pitches by our participants to a jury of international experts.

We were excited and honored to have Jonathan lead the master class on pitching investors. As a serial entrepreneur, he has a proven track record pitching ideas to companies and investors and fundraising. As a former professor at Harvard University, and having been involved in many other educational activities, Jonathan has all the technical and soft skills to teach and inspire our next generation of entrepreneurs.

His presentation started with a photo of himself and two colleagues at the very beginning of founding his first biotech. They were gathered around a kitchen table over pizza and beer, conceiving of what the company was going to look like. He highlighted the need to communicate a vision and the plan for what you want to accomplish, the importance of defining the problem you are trying to solve, and described the many types of funding available to early-stage companies.

Jonathan walked us through other aspects of entrepreneurship including establishing milestones, recruiting a team, and demonstrating the all-important proof of concept.

We were very honored to have him share his time and knowledge with our participants. Jonathan’s commitment to “paying it forward” is admirable and a true benefit to aspiring entrepreneurs.