As a recent alum of the sixth cohort of Google’s Campus London Campus for Mums Programme, I’ve been asked to spread the word the next round is open for applications.
The programme is open to Mums AND Dads, as well as non-parents but priority is given to parents who are founders or are in the idea stage of their startup (as I was when I joined).
The next round runs every Tuesday morning, from 2 May – 4 July 2017, and they select 35 parent founders to participate in the 10-week programme.
To help you with your application (mainly to light a fire under you and get you moving forward) here are 10 reasons to apply:
10) Commitment: It’s only one day per week you need to roll yourself out of bed, put on some slap (always optional), get baby and you ready and get there for 10am. You don’t even need to wear business attire, there is no dress code and the place is breastfeeding friendly complete with change mats and play areas, so comfort is key.
9) Solidarity: Bring your (up to 18-months-old) baby with you, send them off to nursery or if your kids are in school that’s fine too. There’s no pressure to leave baby at home or leave the room while they cry and a speaker is presenting, the idea is everyone has been there, done that. 👊
8) Flexibility: You also don’t have to bring the kiddies if you want to work on your idea in the afternoon, the choice is yours. The whole 3rd floor event space including free WiFi is yours for the taking every Tuesday, courtesy of the programme and there is a café on site in the bottom level, part of the Campus London coworking space.
7) Community: You become a member of Campus London (a Google space) once you’re accepted to attend the programme, however, you don’t have to be a previous member to apply! Membership is free either way and gives you access to the coworking café, networking and educational events. You can also pitch to host your own event to use the space and since TechHub London are also on site, the place is always buzzing with activity! Campus London is part of the Campus ‘family’ which includes global locations in Madrid, São Paulo, Seoul, Tel Aviv and Warsaw.
6) Feedback: Meet and hear from inspiring speakers each week who aren’t above speaking to you one-on-one about your startup pitch or existing structure. Your background is just as important as your idea, so don’t worry if you only have a concept. The peers in the programme are learning alongside you and you are placed into working groups for some tasks to help develop your idea and gather feedback with informal focus group-style conversations. You’re also placed in the hot seat the first week as you introduce yourself, your background and your idea – but fear not! Everyone has to introduce themselves, it provides clarity and is a nice ice breaker to help find commonalities or ways in which you may help one another. As part of the final week, you pitch your slide deck and concept to a mentor (seed fund investor, venture capitalist, etc) for one-on-one feedback which is real-world, applicable and invaluable.
5) Education: Wondering what kind of niche to target? Exploring different funding methods? Deciphering what UX/UI means? Uncertain of your business model or route to market? Get started designing a lean business model canvas as part of the course, learn about product/market fit, marketing and communications, funding options and their pros and cons, plus more. You get access to the slides, weekly topics and everyone in the programme’s contact details for future networking and continued support. Not only is it accessible, it’s free – all you need to do is apply, accept and show up for 10 weeks!
4) Publicity: Our cohort was featured in the London Evening Standard and the Sunday Times Small Business section, as well as on multiple influential social media channels. Also don’t underestimate your cohorts network! If you’re reading this far, you’re in mine and you just may apply to a future programme. You can also use publicity to propel your business forward and as an accepted participant, you’ll be an ‘alum’ or ‘member’ of Campus London’s Campus for Mums which you can use on your startup’s marketing collateral if you wish.
3) Support: I was red-faced, nervous and holding my seven-week-old baby when I made my introductory ‘pitch’ on week one. I had just been given the ‘OK’ by my doctor to proceed as normal going about my day post-emergency c-section and I hadn’t navigated that part of East London with baby and all my gear (stroller, carrier, nappy bag) solo until then. My baby had just been fed, spit up on me and proceeded to babble for most of my pitch but I received applause, smiles and a few reassuring comments throughout that first day and weeks afterwards about the validity of my idea. I even received offers to help, provide feeedback, introductions to potential mentors and investors – you name it. The icing on the cake: one fellow mum held my lunch container for me one week so I could eat and feed my baby at the same time, another week a mum offered to hold him so I could go to the loo. And as I wore him in the baby carrier into my final week pitch to an investor mentor, one of the dads offered to look after him! Talk about business with heart. Most parents to newborns will agree, having free arms = BIG DEAL.
2) Diversity: You meet some seriously interesting people, who have done amazing things, worked in amazing places and come from very diverse backgrounds. All with very different startup ambitions. Around half of our cohort weren’t from the UK (myself included) but London is a city of interesting characters, blow ins and individuals trying to live and create their lives. The mix of participants, all ages, more female than male, really made the experience and it will be interesting to see who the programme continues to attract and the startups that are launched or grow as part of it.
1) Time: You have it, so don’t waste it! I applied one night between feeds when my baby was less than two weeks old. I was in the newborn fog but I had been mulling over my concept for a while. I had stumbled upon the Campus London website and programme info but couldn’t see dates so I direct messaged the Campus London Instagram account while I was heavily pregnant, hoping it would be running again over the next year. Turns out it was in the nick of time – applications closed in mid-July and the programme started in mid-August, which meant my baby wouldn’t quite be two months old. I figured I could commit to one day per week, it would get me out of the house and I would meet other like-minded parents. At the very least they would provide croissants + coffee, changing tables, a play area, seats and WiFi – what more could a breastfeeding mum ask for? So I spoke to my husband, he thought it sounded like a great idea, encouraged me to apply before the deadline and I did. I wrote in my answers as honestly as I could, saved the form and hit ‘Apply’. To my surprise (and delight!) I was selected, met 34 other great mums and dads from all walks of life and geographic locations, as well as the brilliant members of Campus London’s team. I really enjoyed the whole process from start to finish and am happy to say we’re keeping in touch via email and occasional meet ups.
So get crackin’ on those biz goals or creative dreams you’ve been thinking about pre or post-baby and apply before March 28th!
Best of luck 🙂
Photo by: Campus London Campus for Mums 2016 Sixth Cohort Member, The Alma Collective.