Growing a business is hard. Growing an impact business is even harder. Finding a community of likeminded people around you to support your journey is crucial to surviving. This week, we celebrate Casa do Impacto, a partner and host of Maze X, and the new home for impact entrepreneurs in Lisbon. And also, we learn from Valerie Konde, Maze X entrepreneur-in-residence, the importance of nurturing a community inside your organization.
Community Breakfast with João Ataíde
On week 7, Maze X startups related to the environment were invited to join the weekly Community Breakfast of Casa do Impacto, where they met the Portuguese Secretary of State for the Environment, João Ataíde.
João Ataíde was invited to speak about the government’s mission, strategies and instruments aimed to support innovative solutions to tackle environmental problems.
Goodbag, RNTERS, Trigger Systems and Urban Food Box, together with other startups from Casa do Impacto, presented their work, received feedback and raised a discussion about future public policies related to the environment.
Casa do Impacto Arraial
On Tuesday, Casa do Impacto and its partners, MAZE, <Academia de Código_>, Speak and IES Business School organized an arraial, where the coolest impact community got together for some drinks, sardines and Portuguese popular music.
Casa do Impacto is an innovation hub that was built to support the new generation of entrepreneurs who are creating innovative and sustainable businesses with a positive impact on society. Casa do Impacto is an unprecedented effort to foster social innovation by one of the oldest organizations in Portugal, Santa Casa da Misericordia, that just turned 521 yo.
Maze X partnered with Casa do Impacto to make acceleration happen, and it is there, at Convento de S. Pedro de Alcântara located in the heart of Bairro Alto, where the first cohort has been hustling for 7 weeks (and counting) of hands-on support.
Breakfast with Valerie Konde, Maze X entrepreneur-in-residence
To close the week, the founders met Valerie Konde, Co-Founder and CEO of Collectionair and Maze X entrepreneur in residence. Valerie initiated her entrepreneurial life at Rocket Internet, where she worked in venture development in the Middle East and Africa. There she learned how to grow a company and the do’s and dont’s of scaling a business.
After that, Valerie worked at Google for a few years, before launching a startup in the middle of Africa with two other friends. Within one year, they had to close the company with two main learnings:
- How a completely unexpected event can destroy a company – in their case, Ebola.
- The cohesion and communication within the team is the most important thing. Investors bet on the team because they want to be sure that the team will stick together when things go wrong.
After this, Valerie started her second entrepreneurial journey with Collectionair. Her first milestone was to find a co-founder that complemented her. After raising their first round, she concluded it was very tricky to be in an immature market for their specific industry. So, they moved to London, which was a more adequate location to base an arts-based startup.
Fast growth was the next challenge. The team was excited and kept on growing, but you need to ensure delivery. At the time, 40% of Valerie’s time was spent on managing people. Gradually she managed to build a team strong enough to run the day to day business. One of her learnings is that founders need to be able to delegate and empower the team to make decisions; otherwise, founders easily feel overwhelmed and are ultimately unable to focus on raising the next investment. “I’ve always treated my team as founders of the business as well.” – said Valerie.
To Valerie, the most important thing in a fundraising strategy is to keep in mind that whatever you do today will impact you in a few years. Her advice to founders once they raise investment is “Every time you go to a board meeting, send your investors the deck with results beforehand. Focus the meeting on the goals of the next period and how they can help you get there. You need your investors involved. And you need to be intentional in your ask.”
This week got us thinking on the African saying ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together‘. The reality for entrepreneurs appears to be different. If you go alone, you eventually end up nowhere. Making time and space for the community around you is the only way to get anywhere that matters.
Photos: Breakfast with Valerie Konde, entrepreneur-in-residence at Maze X.
Maze X was conceived and initiated by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and MAZE, with the law firm PLMJ joining as a founding corporate member and BNP Paribas, Hospital da Luz Learning Health and Casa do Impacto as partners.