Andrea Gerosa is the Chief Thinker of ThinkYoung, the think tank dedicated to provide instruments and answers to new generations and young people.
ThinkYoung is an evergreen business concept and it shapes itself on new generations needs, covering the distance between makers, startuppers, millennials (of course) and the ever-changing world. In years of collaboration with powerful outstanding companies, Andrea and his team built up a new path for future entrepreneurs empowering the best business practices and form the future of entrepreneurship.
ThinkYoung works as a “box of ideas” and nourishes new sparkles thanks to its many different initiatives.
We regularly host the Entrepreneurship School here in Brussels ant it is great, but it’s even greater to host the Coding Summer School since its first edition and see the youngest coders apply themselves to learn the state of art of digital technology.
Andrea had for sure a disrupting idea with the Coding Summer School but how this creative process works? Well, we asked him so you can find it out!
1. As a good thinker as you of course are, how did you came up with the idea of ThinkYoung?
Thank you for your nice words. I have always wanted to run my own business, since I was 10 or 11, just the concept was a bit different, like opening a gas station or a VHS store. In 2005, I was working in Brussels and saw that too many times policy makers were taking decisions about young people without involving them. Then discovered what a think-tank was and really liked its “open” and “out of the box ideas” concept. A merge of these ideas, coupled with a few beers, and ThinkYoung was born. It was just a website at the beginning, but soon it was clear it needed to become more like a research center to have a real impact.
2. You are the founder of your own business, what is your advice for the new startuppers looking for a innovative idea?
Ideas are tricky, they don’t come to you following a structure or process. Read a lot, read everything from complex issues like philosophy to simple one like sport and gossip. Listen a lot and ask a lot of questions around. Ideas comes from diversity and from outside your “comfort zone”, so go to places that makes you uncomfortable.
Once the idea is there focus to find a customer who pays for it.
Start small with the ambition of becoming global. But start small. Start very small. And start fast, don’t think too much whether starting is good or not, just jump.
3. Latest generations are facing a new tech era: they are submerged by technology and quite at peace around it. Can we say that this is the greatest enrichment for the future generation? How can young people take advantage from it?
Technology has always been around human beings. When we invented the wheel, that was a technology. Today it’s just a bit pervasive because internet has changed a lot. Like in everything, knowledge is power and technology is the same: the more you know it the more you can master it. That is why we started the Coding Summer School in 2016, to make sure kids were able to master technology. Moreover the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) skills are the ones that are more and more needed in the job market, so it can open a lot of doors and opportunities to know them, both as employees and as entrepreneurs.
4. We spoke about give to young people and new generations a space and a voice, but can you define more the social impact of your actions?
Both the Entrepreneurship School and the Coding Summer School started with the idea of empowering young people. Since the very beginning we wanted to have the most diverse classes possible, ensuring the participation of 50% of girls, putting together students who have an MBA with those who are unemployed, and focusing a lot on geographical diversity. Recently in our Coding School we involved refugees who integrated and engaged with the local children.
Our team has been great at bringing our schools to regions where usually these kinds of events don’t happen, from south of Spain to Georgia, from north of Greece to Kenya and Hong Kong, always with the spirit of involving the local communities and making them protagonists.
5. We are hosting the Coding Summer School in Brussels since its very first edition, what made you choose Copernico Science14 for this immersive one week event?
Simple: you guys are the best in town. Your quality of service, your attention to clients, your openness to our “crazy” ideas and your staff flexibility. The Coding Summer School required key technical support, a professional environment that could give the teenagers a glimpse of how their office would look like in 10 years and very fast reliable internet: good luck connecting all the devices of 100 teenagers somewhere else in Brussels!
6. Do you have a vision of the future? What will be the next big thing and how ThinkYoung is contributing to reduce the steps to achieve this new goal?
Definitely not to open the VHS store as I wanted at 10 y/o.
Every year we organise MakersTown, a one day event where we try to replicate how the town of the future will look like. If you want the answer to your question make sure you don’t miss next edition.
7. Your world doesn’t exist without…
Family, crazy ideas and hard work. I try to involve all the three in my businesses.