Six questions with Ewa, the Head of Slush Academy – “Theories are great, but they cannot be used as the main source of learning”
We sat down with Ewa, who is the mastermind behind the newly launched Slush Academy, that educates the future entrepreneurs. After living in six countries, and studying in three, she has personally experienced education in all of its forms; all the way from the Polish public universities to the French private schools. After working in Berlin, Copenhagen and the US, she decided to take on her dream gig: building an entrepreneurship education program that she would want to attend herself.
How did you come upon Slush Academy, Ewa?
Slush Academy was first introduced in 2018 when the Slush team came out with the idea of teaching entrepreneurship to aspiring founders. It’s something that I instantly connected with. Education holds tremendous power to shape people and provide them with personal and professional opportunities. I find it fascinating. That is why, when I was introduced to the concept in the Fall of 2019, it felt like the most natural choice to take on the opportunity to make this program happen. I moved to Finland in November 2019 and immediately dived into working on the program. Call me crazy, but I kind of like the weather here.
Slush is best known for our events and media, Soaked by Slush. How does an entrepreneurship program like Slush Academy fit in with this?
At Slush we believe that entrepreneurship, and especially building global, scalable, technology businesses, is one of the fastest ways to change the world for the better. Our mission is to help, create and inspire founders – Slush Academy is the most natural extension of that goal. After all, our day-to-day work is all about helping founders to create and run companies. What better way to do the first, than through our own education program for future entrepreneurs?
What makes Slush Academy different from other entrepreneurship programs?
Slush Academy is not a traditional internship nor a school. We very much emphasize the need for self-reflection. The entrepreneurial journey is as much inwards as outwards: our participants will have to ask themselves and answer: ‘Do I have what it takes to become an entrepreneur?’ This is an uncomfortable question that every entrepreneur stumbles upon at some point in their lives, and that’s why we have created Slush Academy – to help people find the answer. These three months will be some of the most demanding, but also the most rewarding ones of the participants’ lives.
The thesis of “practice over theory” is at the core of Slush Academy. What does this mean, well, in practice?
I like to use a simple metaphor for this: “You can’t learn how to swim just by talking about it”. Theories are great, but they cannot be used as the main source of learning. Theories provide the best possible static picture of a phenomenon but can’t possibly account for all the surprise scenarios out there, including human interactions, fuck-ups, and crazy market changes. In the end, entrepreneurship is learning by doing and when you are able to apply the theories you’ve learned into your daily work, you will never forget those learnings.
The 3-month Slush Academy program includes a two-week Bootcamp, as well as a two-month internships in different high-growth companies around Europe. What are the internships like?
You will be given the opportunity to work in an exciting startup or scaleup in one of the global startup hubs for two months. We are selecting a very specific set of companies, with the best learning environment for future entrepreneurs. Using Slush Academy’s learning framework participants will develop their startup ideas by observing best practices and common challenges of new and scaling companies. Interning in a high growth company gives you an opportunity to see up close what it takes to create a successful business. For this year, we have selected companies like Wolt and Varjo for our internship partners.
And now for the last, but maybe the most important question. Who can apply?
Anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur. We are not selecting based on the typical qualifiers like fancy degrees, CVs or linear learning paths. What we are interested in is your inner entrepreneur. To us true entrepreneurs are never just bystanders – instead, they act on their deep need to solve problems with mad perseverance. We also believe that the future of entrepreneurship lies in diversity, and that is why we are looking for people from all over the world, with different skills, aspirations, and know-hows. We are choosing the participants based on their potential, ideas and problem-solving skills – so let them show in your application!
Application for Slush Academy close on March 30 – apply now!