As part of the Changemakers program, you will be exposed to new ways of thinking, you will challenge yourself, access expertise and insightful resources, as well as learn from your peers. Developing an entrepreneurial project will help you develop a new mindset, where creativity and problem-solving are at the core of how you work and approach the world.
During Changemakers, you will:
- Develop key skills and competencies that will be valuable throughout your career
- Build your early-stage idea into a project or future startup
- Join a community of like-minded people with whom you will share your journey
- Meet experts, and entrepreneurs: be supported by coaches along the way
The program is open to all EPFL Bachelor, Master or PhD students. We welcome a broad spectrum of projects in Changemakers, and encourage those who are expected to have a significant positive impact on society and or the environment.
Your progress and success will depend on your own motivation and commitment. We look beyond performance on paper and instead focus on your capacity to bring forward exciting projects!
Applications for the next Changemakers Edition (Fall 2023) will start on September 1st! The deadline to apply is on October 3rd 2023 at 23h59.
The fall cohort will begin on October 13th and finish on December 14th 2023.
What to expect
- A 2-day immersion bootcamp to help you understand the problem you are trying to solve, how you can have an impact on the world and get ready for the journey that is to come.
- Hands-on weekly workshops to help you embrace the concepts behind project success – from solving an unmet need to pretotyping and assessing impact.
- An inspiring half-day excursion to discover your authentic leadership skills.
- Community sessions where you will meet sustainability-driven innovators, and get to know yourself and the other participants a little better.
- A Final Award Ceremony where you will pitch your project and progress to a broad public audience.
- Finally, you can expect to have a lot of fun during the sessions and with the people you’ll meet. From experience, Changemakers become good friends during the program!
- You get dedicated coaching to help guide you or your team and your project.
- You will meet a wide range of innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and sustainability experts in the workshops and dedicated coaching sessions.
- Peer-to-peer exchanges with the other participants, and other EPFL student entrepreneurs.
- Through the Changemakers network, you will make connections with like-minded students and meet potential partners.
- Access to The Station, a student entrepreneur space, 7/7 days.
- Opportunity to access to the tools at the SPOT (eligibility on a case-by-case basis)
- Awards and prizes for the best projects at the Award Ceremony
Here are the workshops that are planned during the 10 weeks program. The final award ceremony will be take place in week 11. Note that this program can be subject to changes.
Day One: On the first day of the Bootcamp, you will be introduced to the program details while getting to know your program peers and their entrepreneurial ideas. In the afternoon, you will join an interactive leadership workshop to build your communication and collaboration skills as a future leader.
Day Two: In the morning, you will learn about the foundations of design thinking for innovation and explore how you will build your idea into a real startup project throughout the next 10 weeks. After lunch, you will learn how to design the value proposition of your idea, including the benefits and features that your idea offers.
Attendance to the 2 days of Bootcamp is mandatory to continue the program.
To turn your idea into a solution that’s desired by people, it is important that you understand your target users’ problems and needs. In this workshop, you will identify who your users, beneficiaries and customers are and plan how you will interview them to better understand the problem(s) that you’re trying to solve.
In groups, you will discuss the key challenges that you’re facing in your user empathy research and project, and together brainstorm on how you can resolve those blockers. The program’s coaches will also advise you on your work.
It’s important to test your idea with real people to validate whether your solution has real potential. In the third week of the program, you will create mockup landing pages that showcase your solution. You will test these landing pages on your users, friends and peers to gather user feedback and identify ways to improve your solution.
It’s time for some external feedback! You will pitch your project to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs who will share their feedback on the problem you are addressing, the user needs you’ve identified and how desirable your solution is.
To bring your solution to life, you need to define how your users will learn about your solution, how they’ll get their hands on it and how they’ll use it. In this workshop, you will decide how you want your users to experience your solution, step-by-step, so that you know exactly what to create and how to launch it to get your first customers.
After 5 weeks of hard work, it’s time to check-in with yourselves and your motivation levels. In this workshop, you will participate in personal leadership exercises on self-awareness, resilience and purpose to help you stay committed to your entrepreneurial vision.
It’s time for another round of feedback! You will pitch your progress, including the detailed user experience that you’ve created, to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs who will coach you on how to push your project further.
In this workshop, you will learn about cost structures and revenue models to make your entrepreneurial project financially viable. You will also identify the key resources that you will need to bring your project to life and how you can source them.
Being a successful innovator in the 21st century requires a sustainability vision that thoughtfully considers economic, social and environmental impact in the short and long term. In this workshop, you will define how you can have a desirable and viable business that also positively contributes to the planet and future generations.
As the program comes to its final weeks, it’s time for the last round of feedback from pitch coaches. You will pitch your business model and sustainability vision to experienced entrepreneurs for final feedback before the award ceremony.
In this last workshop, you will learn about different pitching techniques and you will create your own 90-second pitch. You will practice amongst your peers and receive feedback on how to improve your presentation skills.
You will pitch your project in 90 seconds to the public for a chance to earn awards.
How to apply
To apply to the Changemakers, you need to:
- Prepare a 1 minute application video in English. You are free to send us whatever you want as long as it is ethical, and that we understand who you are and why we should choose you. You can upload this video into any platform (Vimeo, Youtube, Google Drive) and add the URL to your application form. Don’t forget to give us access !
Applications for the next cohort will open on Sept 1st
Previous edition pictures
Who can apply?
To be able to participate, you need to be enrolled at EPFL during the application process as a Bachelor, Master or PhD student.
Do I need an entrepreneurship idea to participate?
Yes, you need an initial idea that you would like to develop during the program. Don’t worry if your idea changes during the program, it can be part of the entrepreneurial journey.
What type of ideas are accepted?
Your idea can be tech or non-tech driven and follow a profit or not-for-profit model (as long as it is financially viable). Ideally, it will have a significant positive impact on society and or the environment. Please note that your startup idea must be consistent with applicable law and ethical values. If you are unsure of whether your idea would qualify, please get in touch with us at [email protected].
How advanced do I need to be with my idea?
EPFL Changemakers is designed for students who have an idea in mind that they didn’t really start implementing. If you already started working on your idea, feel free to apply too. However, if we consider that you are too advanced for the program, we might redirect you to another more advanced entrepreneurship program (like Blaze).
We want to join as a team, can we do so?
You can! Note that each team member that wants to take part in the program needs to fill out a separate application form including the application video presenting themselves. The Changemaker status is personal. Of course, for some questions, you can answer the same thing (idea presentation, market need) and submit a team video.
What is I can’t join all of the sessions?
We do not want you to miss out, however we are aware of how packed your EPFL schedule is and that you might need to miss a session once in a while.
The best is for you to note your conflicting classes in the application form so we can schedule accordingly.
If you are unsure about your schedule, you can also leave us your comments via email or mark it at the end of the application form.
Note that if you miss too many sessions or don’t participate fully to them, we will not be able to keep you in the program.
Do I have to work between the workshops?
Yes, we are looking for motivated students that are ready to take some of their free-time to make their project move forward. During workshops, you will learn to use tools that will help you advance your project and the evolution of it will also depend on the work you do between sessions.
Do I have to pitch at the Final Award Ceremony?
Yes, each project has to pitch at the Final Award Ceremony. We know public speaking can be (very) intimidating, but this is part of your growing journey as a Changemaker. You will get our full support to prepare! Try, challenge yourself and you will see how good it feels ! 🙂
What is the application video?
We want to see more than a paper-based application to learn more about you in a 1-minute video.
Use this opportunity to tell us creatively who you are and why you should be part of this program. Get creative!
Should you have any question, do not hesitate to reach out!