The 22nd edition, 15 female founders, 13 countries, 1 life-time opportunity.
My Blackbox Connect experience.
Last May I was one of the lucky 15 female founders picked to participate in the highly selective, two-week residential program Blackbox Connect; representing our startup company Katalysis. Although I prepared well, talked to previous attendees about what to expect, read blogposts, browsed through the profiles of the other selected founders, I still felt a bit insecure of what to expect. Was this really the best way to spend my time? Can I just take off for two whole weeks from my startup?!
Oh my.. couldn’t I just make one of the best decisions ever to take that flight to San Francisco.. At that moment I couldn’t have imagined how lucky I was to have been selected to participate in the 22nd edition of Blackbox Connect…
Blackbox connect is a highly selective, two-week residential program for global founders looking to hone their craft of entrepreneurship and tap into the Silicon Valley growth mindset. Since 2011, over 400 entrepreneurs from 60+ countries have participated in Blackbox Connect. Over 90% continue to grow and thrive, 65% go on to raise funding within 6–9 months of the program, and the combined market value of the alumni network is approximately $1bn. Google for Entrepreneurs is partner of Blackbox, providing scholarships to founders across their partner network. Katalysis, as a resident of TQ, partner of Google for Entrepreneurs, was nominated to participate in Blackbox programme and was granted the Google for Entrepreneurs Scholarship.
During the two weeks of the program you live, eat, sleep and work in the same beautiful house located right on the Alamo Square Park in San Francisco. All guest speakers are welcomed to the house to talk about various topics ranging from growth, culture, leadership to strategy, investor insights and recruiting. The top notch entrepreneurial speakers, such as Mårten Mickos (CEO of Hackerone), Alex Tauber (Stanford University) and Shernaz Daver (GV), are all handpicked and in the network of Blackbox. The domestic environment contributes to the openness and honesty of the speakers. You hear the ‘real’ stories behind the speakers instead of the usually more polished public talks.
Another advantage of living, eating, sleeping and working in the same environment is that it enhances the conversations you will have with your fellow entrepreneurs. Just on the first day I had inspiring talks with my roommates from Spain, Portugal and Ireland and neighbour from the States. Throughout the program we had pitch training sessions with Bill Jools. I definitely had some ‘aha’ moments during those sessions. For instance, learning how approaches differ in the US compared to in European for pitching. I always pitched from a problem-based perspective, whereas the American way is pitching from the opportunity perspective. How refreshing!
After pitch coaching, speaker sessions and inspiring founder-to-founder talks, the program works towards a pitching day for Silicon Valley based investors, the Blackbox Global Startup Salon. I felt incredibly proud to be part of this cohort hearing all my fellow founders pitching. The program is set-up such that you are in no way competitors of one another and the best feeling as an entrepreneur is to be in an environment where you can be your true self without feeling the need to always be competing and battling - one of the daily struggles we all have as entrepreneurs.
The overall program is designed around ‘founder-first’, focusing on the founders foundation and journey before anything else. The overall experience of Blackbox Connect is unique to every founder, depending on the founders personality and the stage of company.
For me personally the program touched me on a deep personal level, changing me from a local oriented entrepreneur to really believing AND feeling that I can bring Katalysis to the next level as a global oriented startup. Equipped with my long term vision and my newfound global mentality, I came back to my office with a great sense of confidence and an even bigger drive then before to democratise the value of online content with the technology Katalysis is developing.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the amazing Blackbox team; Fadi, Marie, Moraya, Kevin, Ben and Ali. Also massive thx to the Google for Entrepreneurs team for supporting this great initiative. And lots of love to my new friends, you all rock: Andrea, Jasmine, Janine, Ginny, Veronica, Mary, Leo, Sarah, Ciara, Iman, Karen, Tatiana, Vivien and Nur ❤.
Blackbox Connect is offered four times per year, with up to 16 founders selected to participate and no more than two founders per country in any one cohort. Check out the Blackbox site and feel free to reach out to me!