Network – Network – Network

How one networking dinner changed Academy of Entrepreneurs’ future forever

78% Of Startups Say That Networking Is Vital To Their Entrepreneurial Success
– Forbes


I’ve always absolutely loved networking, meeting new people and learning new things, that’s why when David Landers, the executive Director of Austrade in 2017 invited me to the ALABC (Australia Latin America Business Council) end of year gala dinner I straight away said “YES”!

Photo: Caroline Juricic (Executive Officer at Austrade), David Landers (Executive Director at Austrade), ME 🙂 and Ryan Neelam (Deputy Consul-General at Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) at ALABC’s 2017 Gala Dinner

Two years later, at that same event we won the ALABC Business Excellence Award – Education.

A very friendly gentleman sitting at our dinner table at the Gala Award night came to talk to me. Turns out he was Marcelino Aviles, the Ambassador of Panama. He shared his passion for education and international studies and was curious about the Academy of Entrepreneurs as he too was passionate about entrepreneurship, education and social impact.

To my surprise he asked me for a selfie (I absolutely admire future focused tech-savvy leaders) and we connected on LinkedIn.


24hrs later I sent a little follow up message, and we locked in a time for a meeting. During the meeting he proposed the opportunity to open a small class inside Ciudad Del Saber (Singularity University equivalent in Panama).

We threw some ideas around and then a few months went by, and << BOOM >> the world went into lockdown.

We re-connected with the Ambassador of Panama and pivoted our plans into an online program.

Unemployment in Panama had grown by 25% and informal work had increased by 55% in 2020 (according to Forbes Centroamerica). If a qualified person with years of experience couldn’t find a job, how are students with no work experience going to get a job? So we decided to run an entrepreneurship program exclusively for Year 12 High School Students and Teachers.

The Academy of Entrepreneurs team created an online course on “How To Transform Any Idea into a Business”.

We launched it in September and had the honor to have the Deputy Minister of Education; Zonia Gallardo de Smith, the Foreign Minister; Erika Mouynes, The International Relations Director of the Ministry of Education; Elio Abner,  the Australian Ambassador to Mexico; Remo Moretta and Ambassador of Panama in Australia; Marcelino Aviles .

The classes were taught for 8 weeks 100% online and in Spanish followed by two weeks of pitch preparation and a Final Pitch on December 10th, 2020.

It was impressive to see how the Panamanian High School teachers were extremely engaged and participated week-by-week and used and integrated our extra curricular weekly activities into the school curriculum.

This program successfully contributed to the COVID-19 economic recovery and to foster Latin American – Australia connections via Entrepreneurship / online trade between Australia and Panama.

Why am I sharing this story?

Because this AMAZING & IMPACTFUL project would have NEVER happened if I had not attended ALABC’s event in late 2017.

Businesses are built on relationships!!!!!! 

And to build relationships you need to network and use your emotional intelligence to build meaningful and sustainable partnerships that create a positive impact.

What is my point?

Please please please network-network-network.

Meet people. Listen to their needs. Collaborate. Give back. Connect your connections to your other connections. It will make you feel good, learn new things, open up new opportunities, and make your business succeed.

And yes, networking is FREE and the opportunities you will get are priceless.

Who would I like to thank?

I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart;

  • David Landers (ex Executive Director of Austrade) for giving us the introduction to ALABC.
  • Marcelo Salas (CEO of ALABC) who believed in us when we were a young startup and introduced us to so so so many world leaders and growth opportunities.
  • Marcelino Aviles (Ambassador of Panama), for connecting us to several Ministers, a Unicorn and Social Impact Organizations that made our project a great success.
  • Harold Lucero (Serial Entrepreneurs and Board Member of ALABC) for encouraging us to join ALABC and apply for the award

I would also like to thank Miguel Mudbidri, International Trade expert and entrepreneur, and Andres Garzon, Business Growth Coach and Entrepreneur, for judging and mentoring in the Final Pitch Day!

And a super congratulation to  the winners Lorena González and Faryth Staley from the Colegio bilingüe María Auxiliadora, the co-founders of “Reciplas”, a plastic recycling startup that turns plastic bottles into bricks and used to build affordable, environmental friendly, and sustainable houses in 3 days and schools in 7 days.

We are extremely proud with the results and aim to expand this project in 100+ schools across Australia and the world.

“Our Mission has always been to accelerate social impact, so this is just the beginning.”

 – Paula Mills, CEO of the Academy of Entrepreneurs

We have since then delivered this program to schools, universities, associations and not-for-profit organisations and have impacted around 100,000 learners.

Please contact us at so we can discuss how we can transform your students into “job creators, not job seekers” and create an impact in your school and community.

Thank you for reading this article. I super hope it inspires you to network more so you can grow your business & impact.

Happy hugs,





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I would like to address you, on the occasion of greeting you and at the same time informing you that we are always here to serve you with all the support you need, for us as a country (Panama) and the Ministry of Education it was an honor and we thank you for choosing us for the prestigious Course of Entrepreneurs for the benefit of teachers and students nationwide.

Lic. Nayla Valdespino

Analista de Cooperación Internacional, Comisión Nacional UNESCO, Ministry of Education in Panana

“Engaging, encouraging, and simply unforgettable! The Academy of Entrepreneurs’ sessions with our community is always full of practical information that can easily be emulated by our partner social enterprises, as AE delivers it with full positivity and enthusiasm. Thank you!”

Samantha Chico

United Nations via the Phildev Foundation

I recognised that I need to make my business as efficient as possible, so I wanted to learn about all the aspects of being an entrepreneur. Academy of Entrepreneurs have opened doors for me to network and have grown my business much quicker than I would have otherwise done.

Sophia Tremenheere

So Tremendous

It was an honor and a privilege to have Paula Mills as our ISIP Visiting Professor at the Technological Institute of the Philippines.  Her experience, as well as her passion and enthusiasm for social entrepreneurship and creating impact, were impressive and contagious.  Her lessons and insights on Social Entrepreneurship, Technopreneurship, Partnerships and Community, and Mentor Management were incredible and valuable. Thank you so much for generously sharing your time and expertise with us.

Shearyl Arenas


We left everything we had behind with one mission, follow our dreams and make them come true. This is why we created GiveMeCocos, we want to inspire you to live a more conscious life, to be happier and make healthier and sustainable lifestyle choices, bringing tropical vibes into everyone’s life. 

Agustin Eli

Give Me Cocos

I found that networking and surrounding yourself with fellow soon to be entrepreneurs is a key element of the entrepreneurial journey, and AE delivers on this. A great community is formed, offering constant support and ongoing motivation!

This business that I have started would not have been the same without Academy of Entrepreneurs!

Felicitas Lavenas

Wanaco Collaboration

There is a lot of YouTube videos that give tips on marketing, finance, pitching to investors etc but there is no school program that teaches you how to build and run a company, how to behave in real life and boss your future. AE has helped me when I got stuck and gave me motivation and confidence to succeed

Francois Dujardin-Rey

Crepe Franchise

Academy of Entrepreneurs provided me the network and the tools to transform my ideas into a real business. They have an amazing team which is always in contact with me, helping me solve any problem that I could have. AE is also a very modern organization, because they use a lot of apps and tools that make the overall experience more efficient.

Hatim Alattar

Co-founder and Partner of Hatim Sweets

Academy of Entrepreneurs helped me with many things! They helped me to organise my ideas and establish a way to achieve my goals, step by step.

I also get  a lot of inspiration from entrepreneurs who speak during the Tuesday talks and also from the teachers and mentors during classes.

Martin Rodriguez

Founder of RockNDog