Enpact Startup Mentoring Scheme

So I’ve just returned from a fantastic week in Berlin with the Enpact Startup Mentoring Scheme, which turned out to be a truly enjoyable and rewarding experience. Over 250 startups applied from across Europe and West Africa and we were lucky enough to be chosen. It involves two camps, one in Berlin last week and one in Ghana in February, as well as regular check ups over Skype with our mentor, Pushpak Damodar.

I’ll take you through the application process very briefly (for any other startups looking to maybe apply) and then a quick review of what we did each day.

Application Process

This was a two-step process. Initially we completed a comprehensive questionnaire on the details of our startup. This involved questions on the aim of our business, it’s potential for growth, the sustainability of the business model and it’s social impact, amongst other things. Enpact clearly liked what they saw from our response so we made it through to the Skype interview, where we were quizzed further on every detail of what we hope to achieve and our process for getting there.

We were happy with how we’d performed in both stages and fortunately so were the organisers, resulting in us being accepted onto the scheme two weeks later. Great news!

Day 1 of Berlin Camp

A meet and greet day where I got the chance to interact with the 20 or so other startups on the programme as well as some of the mentors. We stayed in an old renovated castle on the outskirts of Berlin, a very inspiring and picturesque location!

Day 2

The morning was spent with our mentor, Pushpak, who provided great critical analysis of our business model and growth forecast as well as asking incisive questions on areas we hadn’t yet thought of. In the afternoon was the first of many workshop sessions, this one focusing on ‘Getting Things Done’. The framework it laid out for managing your workload was great and I hope to implement the methods discussed to boost productivity now back in the UK!

Day 3

Another workshop, this time on basic finance for business as well as mentor ‘speed dating’ where I got the chance to interact with some of the other mentors on a 1 to 1 basis. This allowed me to take advantage of the varied skill set on offer as well as tapping into their expansive networks.

Day 4

On the Thursday we visited Coconat Workation Retreat, a co-working space set up just outside Berlin. The space was awesome and it provided a great insight into the time and effort it takes to establish a reputable and well-run co-working site. In the day we had a visit from Christoph Sollich, aka ‘The Pitch Doctor’. He’s an extremely well known individual in the Berlin startup scene and has worked with over 1200 startups to help develop their pitch for investors. An extremely smart guy, he provided priceless 1 on 1 advice on our pitch deck.

Day 5

On the final day we had tours around a couple more co-working spaces in Berlin, which again was extremely interesting. The startup scene in Berlin is thriving and it’s fast turning into a hub for accelerator and incubator schemes, which was great to be a part of if only for the day. Later on we attended the Pitch Drive event (http://pitchdrive.xyz) which showcased 14 startups from across Africa. Some amazing talent was on show and a few of the ideas pitched are clearly destined for great things. Africa, especially Ghana and Nigeria, is quickly becoming a target for massive overseas investment and the earning potential is huge!

In the evening we then had a final party and got to enjoy some of the Berlin nightlife!

Overall it was an incredibly gratifying and prodcutive week, and I would recommend any entrepreneur who is in the early stages of their venture to apply and try and be a part of it (http://www.startup-mentoring.org).

Not only was the advice fantastic but the on-going connections made through the wider network are invaluable.

If you have any questions on the application process or the Berlin camp then please don’t hesitate to get in contact through jono@syzo.co