When I was given the opportunity to attend the European Innovation Academy I was excited and nervous. I never envisioned that I would have the experience that I did. It can take years for the typical startup to launch their product; a two-week period to go through the process is challenging and near impossible. However, our team Roadside Rescue was not an ordinary team and we went through the entire two-week process in only two days with a successful launch.

Elena Carceller (University of Valencia), Marissa Frey (MacEwan University), Angela Mallett (Texas A&M-San Antonio), Darius Chow (Singapore University of Technology and Design), Kangjin Wang (University of Michigan), Anas Ghanim (Qatar University).

Before I was part of Roadside Rescue I was part of a different team. However, it took me 3 days to find a complete team. Fortunately, all of us seemed to get along during our first dinner together and I had the feeling that maybe we could make this work.

Rodrigo the Miracle Mentor

Our first day we were working with a previous idea that was an interesting concept but was not ever going to be a viable business. As a result, our team did not have defined roles or a clear path until a miracle happened. His name was Rodrigo de Alvarenga. Rodrigo was a mentor at the program and helped us define our roles within the team and made us realize that we needed to pivot quickly.

The following day we decided to skip the morning lectures (which I do not recommend as we missed some amazing speakers) and work on creating something for the showcase happening the next day. The morning was frustrating as we quickly realized that we had to abandon the first idea and create something entirely new. If we did not come up with a new idea by the time we met with our marketing mentor our team was probably going to be dissolved and we would all be placed on different teams.

Working Til Midnight — the product showcase

Anas (our CTO from Qatar University) had an idea that he had previously worked on for a school assignment. To create an app that would allow customers to order a tow truck, mechanic, and car when their car broke down. Initially, we said no to the idea as it would be hard to compete against companies such as AAA. We decided to do some research and discovered that this idea was viable and could work. We decided to rename ourselves Roadside Rescue and divided the work up. We worked until after midnight to get ourselves ready for the product showcase.

The next day we travelled to Rome with a working prototype, a landing page, and a video. We had amazing feedback from mentors, participants, EIA staff, and special guests. One of my classmates from my university came to hear our pitch as he had been listening to my rants and frustrations about the project. He was blown away by how much we did in a forty-eight hour period. I left the showcase feeling proud and excited.

A Standing Ovation Well-Deserved
A Standing Ovation Well-Deserved

The last week of EIA we worked on creating Roadside Rescue and our pitch to investors. We were honored to be selected as one of the top forty-one teams and we got the opportunity to pitch to investors. At the end of the top ten teams and the wildcard pitching there was an announcement that a special twelfth team was going to get the opportunity to pitch. I was shocked when Roadside Rescue was announced. We were thrilled with the opportunity. It was amazing to see Rodrigo give us a standing ovation and a good ending to an amazing three weeks.

This experience has helped me to grow in so many ways. I have gained a new confidence that tells me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. To all future participants, utilize everyday at EIA to the fullest. This is a rare opportunity to interact with amazing people from all over the world. Finally, do not be afraid to go into the unknown because if you do not push yourself at EIA you will not get the full experience.

I would like to thank …

There are many people I need to thank for this experience. I want to thank MacEwan University, Launa Linaker and John Alexander for giving me the opportunity to attend EIA. Thank you to all the EIA staff, speakers, mentors and life coaches who made EIA so memorable. I wish to give a special shout out to Rodrigo de Alvarenga who helped Roadside Rescue realize our full potential. Finally, I wish to give a special thank you to the team Roadside Rescue. Thank you for making this experience so memorable. I enjoyed getting to know all of you and I am honoured to call all of you my friends. I hope that we can have a reunion one day where we can eat pizza and gelato.

Marissa Frey — MacEwan University


“I hope that we can have a reunion one day where we can eat pizza and gelato.”