Opened Up A Horizon Of Opportunities And Enriched My Mindset

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One of my lifelong goals is to travel the world, but not through the eyes of a tourist. I want my travels to have a purpose. Spring break in Graz, Austria definitely did just that and more. It is hands down the highlight of my senior year at Montclair State. I’ve been to a lot of countries before, from backpacking through Europe for 31 days to studying abroad in Australia for a semester. I’ve been very fortunate to have had such great life learning experiences in each one. However, this trip in particular, opened up a horizon of opportunities and enriched my mindset in a way I’ve never thought and learned before. In addition to visiting a beautiful country filled with so much history, I met a diverse and motivated group of young entrepreneurs who are all so different but share the same drive as me. Together, we not only learned to innovate, but created a bond that’s truly irreplaceable. I’m so grateful for the program organizers – Jason, Ian, Alex and Lorenz, just to name a few—for integrating entrepreneurship with studying abroad. Studying innovation in Graz diversified my skills as a future entrepreneur and improved my global mindset, which I believe is an essential part of my overall growth and self-improvement.

The whole week in Austria was jam packed with valuable information. I am so glad I got the chance to document it all in my handy-dandy notebook (which I got an award for by the way J ).

We had the chance to meet professionals, such as architects and entrepreneurs, who are experts in this topic. I learned a lot from the four presenters. Andreas Boden encouraged us to question fundamentals, think beyond the house and minimize to maximize. He was in charge of a project in Brazil called Minha Casa Minha Vida (My House My Life). I liked his idea of thinking beyond the house. He talked about synergies between architecture and landscape, creating climate control and integrating landscape into buildings.

My favorite presenter, however, was from a new emerging company called COMMOD HAUS. Their company is only three years old and started with just 2 workers. Now they have grown so fast. Their concept of fully constructing a home in as a little as 6 hours and separating them into modules so that owners can resell, expand or scale down is genius. They created a product that disrupted a world. If they can take this product to America, it will revolutionize the real estate market. They are tackling and targeting four essential problems: time, space, money and flexibility. People nowadays value their time. They want everything to be done in as little or no time as possible. So building a home in less than a week is very impressive. A typical closing when you buy/sell a house takes about 45-60 days. That is considered a fast closing, if you’re not paying in cash. This will disrupt both the construction industry and the real estate market. In addition, in Austria, they have a lot of empty spaces that’s not reusable. Through this system they’re not wasting space because they can simply rent/buy land and place these homes. The COMMOD HAUS is cheap and customizable. This makes it flexible for people to downsize and/or expand their homes. People are always moving nowadays. A typical homeowner stays in their homes for about 5-7 years and then move. What makes it even more genius is the fact that they are the only ones that can dismantle the modules. This creates lifelong clients! It is not a one-time transaction deal. They can and will have multiple transaction deals with every client at least once.

Outside all of the valuable information and innovative ways of thinking we learned from Ian, the speakers, and companies, the program created a global network of leaders ready to take on the world together. It formed relationships that will last a lifetime. I knew that this trip was going to be unforgettable but I had no idea that it will connect me with an amazing group of people I can now call my friends. I did not expect to cry leaving Austria either. We definitely bonded in a way we did not expect to considering how different we all were!

 Written by Gabrielle Magsino

Montclair State University, Class of 2018

Jason Frasca