enpact – empowering entrepreneurs
the magic of mentoring in a castle
The first of the two camps on our MENA + Europe startup mentoring programme took place last week, and what a jam-packed few days it was!
On Tuesday, a bus took 30 enthusiastic entrepreneurs, 12 mentors & experts, and 5 from the enpact team, to the historic town of Bad Belzig, where we were fortunate enough to have beautiful weather and equally beautiful sights. Once everyone arrived, the team introduced themselves and we had a big group photo, before settling down for dinner and a few beers. It was wonderful seeing people of all ages from different countries in Europe and the MENA region, people who would probably never have met under any other circumstances, chatting excitedly and getting to know one another, creating a really special atmosphere.
we kicked off the next day with some singing, which everybody got involved in (hakuna matata!) then, after the morning’s briefing, it was time for the fellows to get together with their mentors and mentee brothers and sisters for the group sessions.
Again, everyone was engaged in conversation and it became apparent how eager the fellows were to learn, inspire and be inspired. Each fellow also got to spend quality time with just their mentors in the one-on-one sessions that took place that afternoon, and continued through to the following morning. Later in the afternoon, we had the fortune of several highly qualified experts – pitch trainer Bianca Praetorius, consultant Tal Uscher and Christine Müller, Manager of eBay’s Customer Insights team – coming in to give workshops on their areas of expertise. Another highlight was Katzi & Hermann, aka the “dream team”, inspiring the fellows to chase their dreams with their innovative dream development workshop (a particular highlight being watching Katzi speak to them all dressed as Super Santa Claus). The night continued with more mingling, dancing and even some fancy face decorations…
Day two was equally full-on, with some dancing in the morning to boost everyone’s energy levels, followed by more one-on-one mentor sessions, and mentor ‘speed dating’ in the afternoon (not as sleazy as it sounds), during which each of the fellows got to spend 20 minutes with two mentors of their choice.
We were later joined by another two experts, Benjamin Wüstenhagen and Dimitri Wolski, who shared their insights on sales analytics and finance. The glorious weather continued to hold up, meaning everyone was able to spend time outside and enjoy the stunning surroundings of the castle, before we sat down to eat our final dinner altogether. After dinner, some of the brave participants volunteered to stand before everyone and do a brief Ted-talk style presentation on a topic of their choice, with the topics ranging from clarity, to time, to the power of saying yes and what it means to say no- some pretty thought-provoking stuff! Dave Cooper, one of the European fellows, then got the video game he’d produced out, which proved to be extremely popular, with people lining up to take turns playing it. He was shortly joined by Maged Farrag from Egypt, who demonstrated his startup’s snazzy technology and began engaging everyone in virtual reality experiences. The night concluded with a party, featuring ping pong, table football and of course, plenty of music and dancing.
They say time flies when you’re having fun, which certainly seemed to be the case in bad belzig and before we knew it, the moment had come to leave the lovely castle and return to berlin for a day of startup ecosystem tours.
With three tours to choose from, StartupBootCamp, Betahaus and MHPLab, there was something for everyone and the participants got to see some of the city’s famous landmarks, including the East Side Gallery and Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park, as well as awesome new co-working space, The Eckwerk, located in Holzmarkt.
The camp officially ended with a wrap-up party in the enpact office, where all the mentors and fellows were present, and there was plenty of pizza and beer to go round. Stefan, director of startup mentoring, made a speech to thank each and every person for coming and everyone gave a big round of applause, agreeing that it had been a fantastic few days. Overall, the MENA camp was a great success and we’re very much looking forward to doing it all over again with our participants on the West Africa and East Africa programmes!