Create Jobs' Beth Kahn's lets us know what happened in week one of Future Startup Now Founders

Future Startup Now’s five-week Founders programme helps diverse creative entrepreneurs aged 18 – 24 take their first steps to starting up their own business or social enterprise. The programme is delivered in partnership with Hustle Crew and is funded by the Mayor of London as part of the Digital Talent Programme.

We were blown away by the levels of talent and creativity we saw during the recruitment process and were so excited to get started with the programme this week with our cohort of 30 Founders (and future billionaires.)

The week kicked off with a session on breaking out of your comfort zone, which was felt pretty apt considering we’d never run a Zoom-only programme before, and the prospect of spending five weeks in a video call with thirty pixelated strangers felt a bit daunting for everyone.

Luckily, the group’s positivity, energy, and collaborative spirit shone through from the start and it’s been amazing to see how well the cohort has started to feel like a real community so quickly.

We set up a skill swapping session to encourage the Founders to connect with each other and find ways to collaborate. It quickly became clear that between them the participants have enough skills and experience to teach each other pretty much the whole curriculum, and the openness to share their expertise within the group was brilliant.

“I love the diversity, the energy, and how encouraging and positive everyone is about each other’s ideas.” - Cheuk Laam Wong, Future Startup Now Founder

Next we introduced Bejay Mulenga (Managing Director, Supa Tech) who will be with the group throughout the programme as a coach and troubleshooter for their developing businesses. It was really inspiring to hear Bejay’s honest account of his successes and failures since he began his entrepreneurial ventures at the age of 12.

Bejay stressed the importance of pivoting throughout your career, which was echoed by Marie Krebs (People Operations Manager, Learnerbly) who joined us on Tuesday. Marie introduced the Founders to the lean startup methodology, and challenged them to run experiments to test their assumptions and decide whether to ‘pivot or persevere.’ Marie’s session was complemented by Afiya Chohollo (Director of Technical Program Management at Onfido) who did a deep dive into Minimum Viable Products the next day, and the group were fired up to go away and work on their MVPs ready to present back next week.

We were also lucky enough to be joined on Wednesday by Ahmed Faid and Nii Lartey from Dose of Society, sharing their story of building a global socially-powered digital media platform. Their energy was infectious, and the group were really motivated to hear what they had achieved through hard work and tenacity.

We rounded off the week with a session from California based therapist Stevon Lewis who will be joining us through the programme to support the cohort’s mental health and wellbeing. Stevon led a discussion on Imposter Syndrome which resonated with a lot of the group and he shared some tools and approaches for confronting your inner critic.

It’s been an intensive first week and I’ve loved seeing the connections the group have already made with each other, and how they’ve started to apply their learnings to their business ideas.

Coming up next week…

The group will have their first meetings with their mentors, and we’ll have sessions on user research, milestones, networking and relationship building, ideation and pitching.

If you want to find out more about the programme or chat about how to get involved drop me a line on beth.kahn@anewdirection.org.uk.