This is a repetitive question I often get when sharing a story / photo about a delegation I took part in.. and to tell you the truth, for years I found it really hard to provide a good answer.
Delegations as bridges to new opportunities
Up until today, I took part in 5 unique delegations throughout my life (30 years for who ever is counting:). Out of the 5, 4 were in the recent years, built around the innovation world and specifically for entrepreneurs.
- 2016 — The Zell Entrepreneurship Program “end-of-year” delegation to Chicago, San Fransisco & New York.
- 2017 — Weact Delegation for powerful women entrepreneurs to San Fransisco
- 2017 — Delegation of the W2W Program alums of to Boston and New York.
- 2019 — SoftLanding Delegation to NY, for EU startups looking to expand to the US market
Usually, they contain a mix of different sessions such as hearing important heroic or failure stories from experienced fellow entrepreneurs, meeting key players, service providers and connectors within the market, attending local meetups & networking events, to finally meeting the best programs and investors who can also be relevant to us in the startups stage or industry.
Representing Israel in the SoftLanding Delegation to NY
The most recent delegation I participated in was the SoftLanding delegation to NY on October. It is a great program, initiated and lead by the EU innovation devision and specifically on my case facilitated by the incredible Jurga Mecinskiene. The mission of this delegation is to empower more EU startups to easily explore and expand their business into new markets abroad.
We were around 25 entrepreneurs and ecosystem mangers, representing startups & innovation ecosystems from different countries spread across all over Europe. From Latvia, France, Germany, Ireland to Israel (which we were chosen to represent) and many more.
It was a truly amazing experience for me. I gained so much practical knowledge and value as the CEO of Clique (which is exactly in it’s stage of entering the US market), that already during the program week, proved itself with new and super exciting opportunities with the local market.
But actually, for me, the highest level of value was found in the deepest level of my emotions and mindset as a CEO, entrepreneur, Israeli, Jewish, individual, female founder doing business in a completely foreign market.
So, how can we measure it?
During the SoftLanding delegation, I focused a lot on trying to answer the difficult question I mentioned in the title: “What do you even get from these delegations?!”. How can we measure the ROI of it?
Of course, we learned there new things, increased our network and opened opportunities in the potential market. This is clear and pure value. But, potentially, we can do it on our own as well. It would probably be even more efficient to schedule this week alone for our startup, while curating only the relevant content and meetings that can add value specifically to Clique.
So, why shouldn’t we just travel there for a week and gain the same outcome?
The trick here is, as in many other things in life, that the most valuable things you can find in these delegation are the things you can’t quantify.
The A-ha Moment
I scheduled my flight back for only a few days after the delegation to have time for more meetings with relevant people & organizations to Clique in the US market. Maya, our biz-dev manager, did a phenomenal job in helping find and sync as many coffee meetings with curated and special individuals while I was there.
It was only in the week after the delegation, when I was “alone” in NY, while walking in the big and super crowded streets of NY, jumping between huge office buildings, running from a business meeting in one part of the city to the other — that I finally got it.
Now I understand.
Self-efficacy. Empowerment. Strength. Boost of confidence. Unstoppable. Boost of EQ (Emotional Intelligence). Boost of CQ (Cultural Intelligence). Personal growth.
These are a few of the emotional abilities that grew higher within me, only from that one week of the delegation, and proved themselves in full glory in the week after.
These super-powers are priceless. Gold.
They come from the strength of entering a market as a united group.
Having 25 people around you to advise and brainstorm with throughout those first days and interactions you do with the market. Reducing the level of strangeness you have in another country, as you are all in the same mission there together. Building up one another before important events and in front of other individuals. Working as a tribe of entrepreneurs.
These are valuable for anyone who has ever tried or is currently working to expand their own venture to a new continent. New culture. New business landscape. New social networks. Different language. Different politics in the organizational structure. Different surroundings. Different habits. Etc..
No large funding round will buy you these ‘powerful soft skills’. It isn’t something you can learn on Google from your office / home. You won’t have a mentorship session that can truly create these outcomes. It doesn’t usually repeat itself if you already have these powers within your local market. It’s probably something you can’t even understand the power of, just from reading about it here or talking about with your partners.
But, it’s fine.
Luckily for us, we have today a booming new industry of these delegations. From social organizations, governments, corporation. All are starting to grasp the value of their efforts and are investing in them more and more.
Finally, wanted to say thank you to all of the important organizations and managers that chose us to take part in their delegations, and believe in us and our big mission. Thank you for all my fellow delegation members for playing such an important role in achieving all of this. Thank you for the many inspiring individuals that join these effort and invest their time to share with us their story / lessons in the mission of helping us build our dreams.
Keep on creating & spreading the magic.