The Life of an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Alacrity Global Boot Camp in Ottawa
The following article is a guest post by Wesley Clover International Business Development Analyst, Joshua Seerattan.
Want to know what the average day looks like for the Alacrity Global Bootcamp Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR)? On the surface it might sound like a compressed MBA refresh program with theme-specific workshops and assignments, however it is much more. The EIRs get the opportunity to learn each day from active professionals and mentors in the SaaS start-up world through their stories of growth, success and failure. They then implement these discoveries in real-time as they progress through the Ideation Phase of the Alacrity Global Program.
I am responsible for guiding our new EIRs through one month of these Startup-readiness activities. The full schedule of workshops, networking and C-level executive introductions are designed to simulate the discipline and hustle it takes to meet the daily demands of the tech Startup lifestyle.
“The wisdom packed into each hour is what made my day.” EIR Alacrity India, Anup Savale
The boot camp is not all meetings and workshops, however. The EIRs were also working to develop their business ideas from the daily lessons and interviews, with the objective of being ready to validate their ideas when they return to their home markets. Weekends represented free time to explore more of Canada, and in this last case included trips to Toronto, Niagara Falls and Montreal. Being ambassadors of “Canadian Culture”, we also had to introduce our guests to the great sport of hockey on one of the networking outings. Nothing is quite as bonding as sipping Canadian beer while witnessing your first live NHL game. I am confident that in addition to providing business learnings, we also exported new Ottawa Senators fans to Mexico and India.
“It was amazing that I got to see my first NHL match live. Although the home team lost the match, the game couldn’t have been more interesting. You can see why know that hockey is a religion here.” EIR Alacrity India, Dhruv Goel
The Boot Camp Itself:
The boot camp schedule was divided between workshops, portfolio company introductions, follow-up work-time and evening networking. A full work day was definitely expected of the cohort and given they are ambitious entrepreneurs with a grand vision for the future, they often worked well beyond the norm.
“This experience but also as a result has created a more powerful motivation inside me to work and focus for the next couple of years, building a company and making this dream actually happen.” EIR Alacrity Mexico, Elisa Villaseñor Penela
8:45am The Entrepreneurs begin assembling from the gym, the winter cold, the coffee station or early chats, and we prepare to head to their first activity. Often the mornings will begin with a workshop on a SaaS business fundamental starting at 9am and go until perhaps 11am depending on the topic and level of follow-on discussion. After each workshop a survey is completed by the EIRs to provide feedback on the session and help us ensure each is meeting the desired objectives.
When the morning workshops ended the teams often would be separated so that particular interests could be explored individually.
“The most enjoyable and productive activities were the meetings with company CEOs and other executive. Learning about their successful moments, their failures and their current problems and challenges definitely helped a lot during our own brain storming sessions. ” EIR Alacrity Mexico, Juan Pablo Torres
Those without a scheduled meeting would work on their deliverables or would be invited for a 1-1 chat. We would discuss their experience thus far, explore some areas for professional development, find out what they needed to succeed or simply ask how they were doing. This was an opportunity to provide some soft-skill coaching as well as level-set with these future business leaders through the excitement, stress and perhaps even a little culture shock.
The afternoon has arrived and lunch was not always a guarantee given how busy the entrepreneurs were. Coffee and muffins were often the fuel to get to the next activity. The next workshop would begin at 1pm and last until 2:30pm. After that meeting the teams would have a 10-minute break before their next meeting. Meetings last 60-90 minutes each depending on the topic. Any additional time was usually spent in the “Bull Pen” – the space allotted for the teams to work – through their thoughts and ideas on their computers and whiteboards.
Fridays included a group Check-In to discuss the week’s activities and explore what individuals learned, how they applied it, what shocked them and why, what they are going to do on the weekend and what they may be missing. In addition, this was the time to air the administrator requests – also known as the “Josh Tasks”. Examples might range from making sure to network first through to being more mindful of time. Micro-deliverables are also expected each week and are most important to the learning experience, both for the boot camp administrator and the EIRs. A two-page professional learning Journal is used to capture the key experiences, both professional and personal, each week.
“Josh’s Tasks: Get to know 5 “Strangers” at the office and get 10 business cards each at Tech Tuesday. I love it.” EIR Alacrity Mexico, Juan Pablo Torres
“Learning to network in events such as TieCon and Tech Tuesday was one thing which really took me out of my comfort zone. It helped me realize the importance of talking with unknown people.” EIR Alacrity India, Shubham Verma
At the end of each day, the entrepreneurs decompress and process the day’s activities with a social beverage and dinner plans. Often this included pre-planned evening networking activities. The entrepreneurs would use this time to engage with more of the tech business community of Ottawa, practice pitching their ideas and themselves, and discuss topics from technology to their first experiences in Canada.
Finally, Graduation Day!!!
A month has passed already and the last day of the Boot Camp has arrived. Each team is scrambling to fit in last- minute meetings with Wesley Clover executives, workshop mentors and startup CEOs before they fly home. In addition to squeezing in every opportunity in the final day, the EIRs deliver a final presentation of their business ideas to Alacrity Global chairman Terry Matthews. This closing meeting is about illustrating what they have learned and what they plan to do next in terms of continuing to build their tech startup.
Emotions are running high as the pressure builds before presentation day:
“We are approaching the end of Bootcamp and are just loaded with so much information. It will take time to fully process all the learnings.” EIR Alacrity India, Shubham Verma
“Looking forward to the concluding week and final meeting with Terry. I know the coming week will close things on a high” EIR Alacrity India, Anup Savale
“We have one more week to go and I can´t wait to go back to Mexico and start applying everything we have learned so far.” EIR Alacrity Mexico, Elisa Villaseñor Penela
Now the real work begins – market validation and execution. Everyone at Wesley Clover International and the Alacrity Global Program are proud of the progress of by each our EIRs and are looking forward to seeing what SaaS innovations these talented entrepreneurs build going forward.
“It’s surprising how we are already finished with our bootcamp. So many great experiences and learnings in just a month. I feel almost overwhelmed with new knowledge.” EIR Alacrity India, Shubham Verma
“Now that the boot-camp is done we feel responsible to make the best out of this whole experience. We really want to become one of those companies the Wesley Clover and Alacrity ecosystem feel proud of having in their portfolio. We now know who to talk to if we need advice on a certain subject or who to partner with to add more value to our solution.” EIR Alacrity Mexico, Elisa Villaseñor Penela