Person First, Entrepreneur Second
Visible is a new innovative, and community-driven wireless carrier born out of the belief that digitally driven consumers should be met where they are — on their phones and apps. Together, we created Visible Connect as a way to support nine nonprofit startups that use mobile tech to help people in need and bring visibility to issues like domestic violence, hunger relief, and civic engagement.
Learn more about our work together here.
At the beginning of this year, Visible and Uncharted launched Visible Connect and selected nine mobile tech nonprofits for the first cohort, bringing them all together in Denver for a five-day boot camp. We wanted to place the power of our phones at the center of everything we did to help entrepreneurs accelerate their nonprofits.
But this year’s program with Visible looked a little different from other accelerator programs. And that’s what we want to talk about here.
Our team commits to taking care of the human before the entrepreneur. We want to see the person behind the pitch, and the struggle and stress behind the sales, strategies, and successes.
Visible Connect was an opportunity to remind entrepreneurs the importance of taking care of themselves. Being an entrepreneur is hard — and we firmly believe in going beyond the accelerator model and providing a community that takes care of the whole person that comes through each program.
Here’s a look at what our teams pulled off during Visible Connect to make sure our nonprofit startups felt taken care of.
For starters, always consider snacks
Before everyone arrived, our cohort was surveyed with a variety of very important questions, including “What is your favorite candy or snack?” When folks arrived at their hotel room the evening before the program began, their yogurt-covered pretzels, bacon flavored popcorn, and Snickers were waiting for them. This came in a Visible Connect tote that also included a handwritten card. (You read that right — not another email or digitally drafted note; there were actual words written with ink on paper!) Seriously though, a little personalizing card can help people feel valued and seen.
Upon entry, provide stress balls
A little swag can go a long way. Sure, a cozy Visible Connect t-shirt and insulated water bottle also came in said tote. But entrepreneurs were also greeted with Visible stress balls as a way to show that we know these programs can be tiring and anxiety-ridden. While it was there just in case, the stress balls were more about the message: If you get stressed, we’re here.
Food is fuel
Good food is key to people feeling fueled and energized to tackle long days. During the week, breakfast and lunch was provided by an incredible catering company (shout out to Three Tomatoes!). Meals included breakfast burritos, fresh spring rolls, and sliders, along with an endless supply of coffee (very important). One entrepreneur left saying, “I’m sad thinking about what I’m going to eat for dinner. I won’t be eating here. The caterers are incredible and so helpful.”
Take people to the rock wall
One way to combat long days of workshops and networking is with a little fitness. While the week included no shortage of evening happy hours, we also wanted to make sure our entrepreneurs had time to sweat it out, decompress, and climb stuff. One evening we headed to a climbing gym near the venue where entrepreneurs could choose between yoga, rock climbing, or CrossFit (the latter group barely survived, but that’s for another post). People also had the option to opt-out of these classes entirely and simply go back to their hotels to get some extra rest. Om.
Keep it real with a talk on vulnerability
Midway through the program, we hosted a fireside chat with Uncharted CEO Banks Benitez and Visible CEO Miguel Quiroga. The point of the discussion was to talk about the “Inside Game,” meaning the mental and emotional side to being a team leader and entrepreneur. So instead of talking about sales strategies, we talked about stress. Instead of focusing on growth, we dialed in on failure and what it means to let your team down. There was a shared consensus in the room that folks were not alone in their feelings of burnout, confidence, and “enoughness.”
Give them Chipotle and care packages, in that order
During the fireside chat, everyone was fed a bountiful spread of Chipotle (who doesn’t love tacos?) and then sent them back to their hotel room with a small care package, which included Emergen-C packets, a face mask, essential oil, cucumber eye pads, a coloring sheet, and a crayon pack. While a little self-care can go a long way, the biggest missed opportunity here was getting a group photo with their cucumber eye pads.
At the end of the week, everyone was tired, yet calm and refreshed. It was one of the first times where we balanced our accelerators with deceleration, showing how the power of small mindful moments can turn into creating a space that allows for authentic connections and learning.
Entrepreneur Sonya Passi sums this up best:
“I don’t know what’s in the water here. Everything was so thoughtfully done — the gift bag, the little intro exercises. You go to a lot of these things and your hotel sucks and the venue sucks and you can’t eat anything and you are in a box all week with no sunlight and you’re expected to learn in that environment. There’s not enough snacks and caffeine. Its seems like its periphery … but these things make it possible to learn.”