The monitoring system of the project was set with delay (see UFIL Journals N°2 and N°3) and interim results achieved against job-related indicators are not available. In November 2021, I carried out a short online consultation among the 33 participants of the first edition of UFIL training. Such edition run from March 2020 to January 2021. Thus, after 10 months, I was expecting to get an idea on the sustainability of the support provided by the project. In fact, I received only a total of 11 replies, which is equivalent to a rather modest response rate of 33%. Still, these 11 replies are coming from 10 out of the 17 entrepreneurial ideas (and corresponding teams) created within the first edition of the UFIL lab, meaning that the feedback was received from 59% of the entrepreneurial teams.
The first question of the consultation was about the existence - 10 months after the end of the UFIL training - of the teams that worked together on an entrepreneurial idea (within the innovation lab, entrepreneurial ideas are put forward individually or, preferably, by teams of two or more people). The majority of the participants (55%) replied that the team does not exist any longer. For those teams still existing, 9% of them changed members. Only 36% of the teams created within UFIL had at the time of the consultation the same team members.
Some of the still existing entrepreneurial teams are actively looking for investments, but others are progressing slowly in developing their business either because they say they have to do everything by themselves (i.e., without the support of the project), or because the setting up of the business took longer than expected and sales started stagnating after a while due to the lack (and cost) of a marketing campaign.
Among those teams not existing anymore, the lack of interest and/or support from the project is mentioned twice as the cause of their give up. Another reply is worth to be quoted as it elaborates on the reasons why the team did not manage to survive after the end of the training:
It was very good to form a team, although we did not manage to continue with the company. It allowed us to generate an idea, learn to work together with others, experience the difficulties and joys that this whole process entails. Perhaps we realized late that our idea needed much more work to bring it down to reality…… We lacked working together with our target customers to arrive at a well-targeted value proposition......But above all, we realized that much more communication and understanding was required within the team.
Three of the still existing teams are now registered as companies and additional three are not registered but are planning to do so in the near future. The three registered companies are registered in Cuenca. Only four teams state to receive support from the project. Two teams say to have access to the project’s lab and machines, one team receives information and another one networking support. A fifth team states that it keeps in touch with the project through the social media.
When asked if they were positive or negative about their future as an entrepreneur, most of the replies (73%) were ‘positive’. Among the three negative replies, one participant states that ‘Although UFIL has opened my mind, I still don't have a clear idea to launch myself’, and another one feels that the lack of institutional support will result in the closure of the business. Positive attitudes are not necessarily framed into the project’s context, as among the replies one participant says that: ‘I am very positive about my future as an entrepreneur and about my project, which I continue to develop. But completely outside of UFIL.’ Finally, positive attitudes go beyond the fact of having succeeded or not in developing an entrepreneurial idea within the project: ‘ (I am) Positive. When the team broke up, I wanted to bring the idea forward and I still feel that I have to continue with a project related to that idea. The illusions have not been lost’; and ‘UFIL has given me some tools and an overview of what entrepreneurship is today. It was the push. Now it's up to me to put it into practice’.