Rumbling through an ombré British countryside, Friday brought me to the quirky building of the Judge Business School for the Social Venture Weekend run by Cambridge Social Ventures - a packed out two-and-a-half days of intensive training for people on the journey of building and growing a business with an inherent positive social mission.
It all kicked off with an academically rigorous lecture on the importance and impact of social ventures and helped bring light the different models of how social ventures are currently being run. It continued with an introduction to the theory of change and how social impact should be measured.
For the last bit, I confess I snuck out to meet a good friend for one of our favourite tradition: having amazing pastry at Dulcedo. This independent patisserie dessert kitchen never fails to dazzle and fulfill my sugar craving.
We shared two pastries: the mont blanc was an amazing, airy combination of hazelnut and chestnut cream with a chocolate covered hazelnut hidden between the mascarpone cream; and the raspberry choux, with its sweet raspberry flavoured cream hiding an apricot jelly in its centre, topped off by a crunchy choux.
Never enough time to catch-up, I rushed back to the Judge and made it in time for dinner. I had some fantastic conversations with the cohort members and learnt about their creative ideas to solve social problems issue we are all facing!
The flat terrain of Cambridge allows the cold Nordic winds to bring their chill and I hit my coldest shirtless run to date at 0°C (post about why I'm running shirtless coming soon...). A beautiful, refreshing run as I trampled over the frozen grass, circling around the cows and following the sparkling, winding River Cam under the winter-y sun.
And made it just on time, cycling in for an early start at the Judge! The day began with an introduction to the business canvas model.
The more useful bit was when we got out of the lecture theatre and onto the break-out space and knuckled down on each of our canvases. Having done a few of these over the past year, the best part was when I was able to share it with my fellow cohort members and current MBA students who sanity checked and advised.
Back into the lecture theatre and got an intense but super useful talk about all the organisational structures out there, and in particular those which were best for social ventures. This was tailed perfectly with a talk on social finance and opportunities out there for companies on a social mission. And finally, after lots of information slowly sinking in, the energetic and engaging talk about market research brought a long day 2 to a strong end.
Another refreshing run to start the day and pulling up for tea at the Judge, launching straight into a sales workshop. At the end of the day, every entrepenur needs to get out and sell; whether it's a product, service or even an idea to an investor. But often we go into our sales pitch and forget to do an important bit - listen! The following quote from the Chief Hostage Officer at the NYPD captures it perfectly:
"Great negotiators are great listeners"
Next up, we learnt about the fundamentals of finance and how a seemingly stable and even profitable business can become insolvent if they don't manage their cashflow. Did you know 82% of small-business fail fail due to cash flow management and understanding!
Re-energised after lunch, we were given an interactive workshop on how to pitch our ideas. Again, the peer feedback received was hugely valuable and gave me a lot of things to think about for some of the upcoming competitions that ZNotes is part of.
So after an exhilarating, mentally taxing but satisfying weekend in one of my favourite cities, it at all came to an end and as the English do, off to the pub to celebrate!