It’s the Sunday after my first 3 full days at . I’m sitting at the Starbucks on the Plaza, a stone’s throw from my apartment catching up and getting ahead (don’t have internet hooked up in my place yet). After plowing through stuff for 3 hours, wanted to write about the first couple of days at the new gig.
I walked in on Wednesday morning ready for orientation. Man, I should have listened to when he said this place isn’t like any other. After a quick chat with HR and IT to make sure I could swim, and numerous texts from Bo inquiring as to my whereabouts, I headed over to to touch base.
I walked into exactly what I was looking for! 50 ridiculously talented and driven people looking to start companies that will change education. We’re in the middle of the selection process for the next iteration of Kauffman Labs Ventures – 4 month program where we bring in founders and help build companies. The focus of this iteration: education. We’re looking for founders of high-growth, scalable education enterprises.
We had applicants in from all over the country ranging in age from 18-55. These folks were incredibly experienced and credentialed: graduate and post docs from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, etc, folks working in the major school districts around the country, people who have started businesses in the past. All of them have great ideas or already existing companies in the education space.
After a few exercises/challenges early in the week, we utilized a format I know and love to continue to evaluate and learn about the group. We ran a . Though they are all experts in education, we asked them to build companies in the food sector. (Startup Weekend COO) was in town to facilitate. Along with Shane, and a bunch of us from Kauffman, we had some friends of the foundation in to help out. That group included entrepreneurship professors, psychologists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
So, while the teams formed, worked and presented, we observed and learned. We got to see how people worked in groups, how they thought, how they led, how they solved problems. In short, we got to interview founders.
What an awesome way to interview, right? I found it a powerful and useful utilization of the Startup Weekend format we’ve refined over the years.
While the companies/ideas were meant for evaluation purposes, any time you bring talented people together, great things happen. Some of the ideas/companies were great! I expect to see a few get started. Per my usual experience at Startup Weeekends, the energy, creativity and collaboration was incredible. It always amazes me how people who don’t know each other can come together and achieve so much in so little time.
The participants got a lot out of the exercise too, I think. While we observed we also coached – refining problem solving and approach constructs.
So, not a bad first few days on the job. It was great to meet everyone and be a part of something so high pace and so productive. Ideas and partnerships emerged and I think it will help the Labs program pull together a great group to launch companies.
Of course, I’ve been keeping up on things at too. Thank you technology for enabling me to do our weekly traffic meeting and stay up on all of our projects. Will be challenging but fun balancing everything.