Michel Cezon, GEM 2012, coach and Jury member for the Hult Prize at GEM, shares his experience.
Could you introduce yourself please?
Michel : I am a professional coach for start-ups with a diploma from Grenoble École de Management. Since 2010, I have been helping start-ups develop their ideas using a tool that I created, the start-up founder canvas. As an engineer in Artificial Intelligence, in the 80’s I created 3 start-ups in Singapour, France and United States, then worked in big companies and finally as a researcher.
When you were contacted last year to coach the winning team, what was your reaction and why did you accept ?
Michel : When I was contacted last year, I didn’t know about the Hult Prize and I loved the essence of the competition and its goal. I particularly liked the principle of financing a social and humanist project that tries to solve the problems we all face. Personally, this is very important. On the other hand, as I am a professional coach, I felt I had the skills to help them develop their ideas and build a strong pitch. Plus, if this project is going to help the planet, it is event better!
Was the fact that you're an alumnus a deciding factor? Knowing that the participants were GEM students, was helping a form of expressing gratitude to the school?
Michel : Yes, of course ! That wasn’t the main factor but of course it helped. The Hult Prize is a big prestigious entrepreneurial competition were the winner has the chance of winning 1 million dollars for their project. If it were GEM students who won, I could be even more proud. Having GEM students in the final means representing the school and being proud to do it, but most important, it shows that the school and the students care about these big social problems
What is your best memory of this experience ?
Michel : I really liked meeting with the winning team, they were very motivated and I could feel they were engaged with the project. I liked working hand in hand with them, positioning their idea, constructing a solid project, overcoming the obstacles…
What would be your advice to this year's participants and future alumni?
Michel : Go for it! Don’t leave unfinished business. If you are sure you have a strong idea that will help the world, do it 100%! For the future participants, it is important to know that you CAN make a difference, you are USEFUL, and no matter what you do, BE PROUD of yourself!