The lessons learned in the Academy are actually instinctive and innate and we exhibit these as children. These are partially incorporated through activities which are specifically designed to bring these attributes to the fore.
Students exhibit a lot of natural inquisitiveness. Through workshops and games we teach students how to see situations, events and things from multiple perspectives, to become aware of limiting judgements and pre-conceptions and reframe the mind from one that accepts ‘It is so...’ to one that asks ‘I wonder if…’
From the invention of written language to the rise of the internet, creativity has been central to all cultural progress and, going forward, it’s only going to become more important when the students of today face ever more complex problems that they’ll only be able to solve creatively. Students of the Academy rarely come with ideas. A very common question I get asked prior to a session starting is ‘do I need to have an idea’. The answer is always, ‘no, but I guarantee you will have by the end of day 1!’. And that is a promise that I keep - through a series of creative games, the students generate between 20-30 ideas in the space of ½ a day. Of course not all of them are viable startups but that’s hardly the point. Unlocking this creativity early in the process yields a way of framing situations that allows them to connect dots further down the line.
We are constantly surrounded by information flooding around us and sifting the signal from the noise is something each and every startup has to discern constantly. Building on the students creative mindset we delve into the difference between facts and opinions and make them aware of the judgements and biases each of us carry to help them to observe and draw their own conclusions.
Central to our success is our ability to tell a story such that it inspires others. You may need to inspire them to work for you or with you or fund you or buy from you, no matter the reason, we guide our students on communicating effectively, clearly first to each other, then within their teams and finally culminating in a pitch to a panel of experienced judges.
On the first day each student comes in as talented individual but by the end of the bootcamp they leave as a collaborative collective. Youth are natural collaborators but far too often they are pitted against each other rather than encouraged to work together. All of our guidance leads the students to work on a project as a team and learn to organise, compromise and resolve conflicts as a group.
A fundamental part of our teaching is the concept of Design Thinking, the first element of which is the ability to feel empathy for the feelings of others - in our case that is the feelings of the target customer and their pain points or problems. This is an essential part of allowing the students to become aware of not only someone else’s feelings but their own and the games we play are designed to draw this out.
Finally, an important element of what we teach is the awareness of impact. We help the students to challenge the common wisdom of what startup success is and guide them to consider the impact of this success. I believe that the future of business is one that does not value profits over profit and that it is our responsibility to be aware of the impact of all that we create.
Overlaid upon these competencies we teach the skills and processes that are a part of a modern startup
rhythm. The students are guided through these processes and will identify a customer, empathise with their
problems, define viable solutions, evaluate a business plan and pitch the business model.
Placing these competencies at the heart of the Academy allows us to ensure that what the students learn
will be applicable no matter what their chosen path is. Most of the students continue their education
through to university and then quite often come back to intern with us through the Summer.