13 Jun Founders Retreat Report
On the 19th of May to the 22nd of May, the Association programme recently hosted its annual Founder’s Retreat for the 2023 cohort of Fellows participating in the Entrepreneurship Academy. A highlight on the Association’s calendar, it was hosted at the 26 Degrees South Hotel, Gauteng. The retreat is designed to foster an enriching and valuable experience for the Fellows and this year they introduced a new element of including IVC participants as well. The event consisted of a variety of topics and engagement from experienced founders, practical business skills-oriented workshops, personal transformation reflections as well as team building activities. Fellows were challenged to critically reflect on their businesses, goals and more importantly, provided with an opportunity to take a deeper strategic look at their business progress. The event proved highly valuable for the Fellows who provided feedback as entailed below.
In terms of the ways in which the event re-ignited the entrepreneurial spark in its attendees, the answers were rather encouraging. Attendees reported that being around venture capitalist specialists and seasoned entrepreneurs opened their world up to the intricacies of the entrepreneurship journey, thus helping them realize the array of possibilities contained therein. Some attendees also described the impact of the retreat as an aid for them to reflect on their growth not only entrepreneurs, but as individuals as well. The overall feeling from attendees was that they felt they were a part of something inspiring and much larger than themselves.
One of the main aims of the Founders Retreat is to contribute to attendees’ validation as an entrepreneur, and the feedback certainly showcased this aim. Attendees felt affirmed in their journeys through the realization that, they are indeed still in the early stages. The takeaway here, is that there is no one way to go about starting a business. They left the retreat with a more realistic idea of the sort of nature it takes to be a founder; to fail, to pivot and to persist. Other attendees felt the experience highlighted their areas for growth and opportunities to improve their business acumen.
This retreat was heralded to provide attendees with the reassurance that they are on the right track for their businesses to grow and there was an appreciation for being in a room with like-minded people. One attendee’s sentiments stood out here: they mentioned that before the retreat, they felt like they were on a treadmill with their business and the retreat helped them gain their sense of balance. Being challenged, engaged and advised by a diverse set of business practitioners and fellow founders helped our attendees feel more grounded, knowledgeable and encouraged in their respective entrepreneurial journeys.
“The Retreat allowed me to reflect on my growth as an individual and the continuing opportunities for growth [that] I will experience as an entrepreneur.”
Although most reports were inspiringly reflective, in contrast, attendees with businesses still in the ideation phase reported feeling mildly out of place being around more adept founders. With this experience, however, there was the sentiment that the rooms that can feel the most daunting are the rooms one has to inhabit for self-improvement. Conversely, many attendees felt like being in a room with such determined and like-minded people was quite inspiring and encouraging.
There was positive feedback regarding the structure of the retreat as well, including the time set aside for founders to reflect on their business and its practice. In this way, the retreat remained close to its objectives to educate and accelerate attendees in their business journeys, regardless of what phase it was in when the event took place.
The retreat was a great weekend spent around incredible minds. It pushed me beyond what I thought were the limits and targets to reach.”
Attendees felt that the retreat sparked a sense of resilience amongst themselves and that the feedback from their coaches was incredibly valuable and insightful. They reported enjoying the weekend, leaving inspired and eager to recommend the next Founders Retreat to their fellows, as they felt it was a transformative space and experience – which it will always aim to be.
Written by Sandrine Mpazayabo
Edited by Tehillah Dube