I'm on the way back from an incredibly exciting three days in London at the Emerge Venture Lab bootcamp and I just have a real urge to go and tell everyone about how great it's been.
If you're trying to turn a great social-impact idea into a business, and you're not part of Emerge, then you are massively missing out!
What is Emerge?
In Emerge's own words:
"The Emerge Venture Lab supports entrepreneurs to discover and bring to market innovative business models that aim to solve the world’s greatest problems."
In my words, Emerge is a business incubator for social businesses that gives you access to incredible people and resources. Over the year there are three formal bootcamps, bi-weekly meetings and lots of other opportunities to network and to learn. The easiest way to explain the usefulness of this program is to tell you about what we did this weekend.
So, in the last three days, Al and I have:
- Spend over an hour discussing and being challenged on our strategy with a senior strategist at Deloitte.
- Had 1-1 chats with senior lawyers.
- Had 25 minute, Meducation-specific, 1-1 mentoring sessions with:
- Paul Cheng - Founder Director at SharedImpact. Previously a corporate finance lawyer and a strategist at Microsoft.
- Jay Barrymore - Managing Partner of Impact Investment Partners. He describes himself in five words as "Aspiring Man in the Arena".
- Rob Fitzpatrick - a serial tech entrepreneur who's been through Y-Combinator and writes a blog on entrepreneurship.
- Eze Vidra - a Strategic Partnerships Development Manager at Google.
- Amy Birchall - Director of Client Services at Volans, where she helps global businesses, key influencers and government leaders build cutting-edge social innovation strategies.
- Carlo Palmier - The CEO of CP Consulting, an independent management consultancy firm.
- Alastair Dryburgh - A consultant with a particular interest in discontinuous improvement and creative business design.
- Had training on presentation skills by experts at Deloitte, including watching videos of ourselves present.
- Had presentations on valuing a business, negotiating, branding, pitching, business structuring, raising angel investment, raising grant funding, team-building, and more.
- Met LOTS of very cool, intelligent, passionate people, who are doing really amazing things in a whole range of areas.
In addition to everything amazing this weekend, we now have access to 60 mentors, including the ones mentioned above, who we can contact when we need help or advice.
What's the catch?
There's not one. All of this has cost us nothing, no cash and no equity - it's totally free.
If you have a good social idea that you've really thought through, go and apply!! There is absolutely nothing to lose and an incredible amount to gain.
The mentors and speakers are involved simply because they want to help social entrepreneurs and ask for absolutely nothing in return. They are people at the top of their industries (e.g. a top angel investor, the founder of Teach First, one of the best negotiators in the world), so access to them is an incredible privilege. I am extremely grateful to all of them for giving up their time.
Finally, I want to say a massive thank you the other ventures who made the weekend really fun, and to Jan, Clara and Emil, who accepted our application to the Lab, and who ran everything so well this weekend. You guys are just utterly awesome and incredible and I'm so grateful to you.