Finally, the weekend everyone was expecting arrived! The Cyprus and Greece Cleanlaunchpad boot camp, the final in the series, took place at the idyllic village of Kalopanagiotis on the north side of Troodos, the main mountain range of Cyprus. Beginning of September, the temperatures in Cyprus began to drop a bit, making it very comfortable while the fresh mountain air with pine scent gave everyone the motivation for a weekend full of work.
My name is Stelios Y. and I am one of the Chrysalis LEAP co-founders, or LEAPsters as people call us here on the island. Along my side are our national coach duo Deano & Paris, Alex who was the guy with the idea to start Chrysalis LEAP, Stelios P. our financial guy, Eloiza our lawyer, and the latest addition in our team, our man on the ground and workshop coordinator Andreas “the Spiderman”, who had every little detail ironed out like a finely woven web. Of course, this boot camp would not have existed without Sara Schützer, who made an idea come to life faster than you can say CleanLaunchpad, Ron Bloemers who led the truly inspirational training sessions, and our local sponsors Ernst & Young Cyprus who not only trusted us for a second time to run our program, but sent some of their people to actively contribute to the coaching of the teams.
From Friday afternoon the six teams from Cyprus and four from Greece begun gathering at Kalopanagiotis village. Everyone is eager to take the LEAP and try their hand at winning a position in the coveted Climate-KIC Accelerator, the world’s first real-life business school for promising cleantech entrepreneurs.
The boot camp started with a quiet cocktail at Cava bar in the stone paved streets of the old village. The pleasant atmosphere, as well as the food and alcohol, made everyone chatty and helped a lot with mingling. This was great as it helped us put faces on the applications we had selected (we selected 10 teams out of 43 applications) as well as the teams to get to know each other and explain their “deal” to each other. We didn’t stay long since everybody wanted to be fresh for the next day!
After a hearty breakfast at Casale Panagiotis, our hotel, everyone walked over a wooden bridge across the valley to the Morfou Bishopry camp facilities where the boot camp took place. Its location is across the village with a view of the Marathasa Valley on one side, leading to the Northwestern coast of Cyprus on the other. Just below there was the medieval monastery of St John, now a UNESCO heritage site.
As soon as everyone walked into the building and settled down, Paris gave them a strong welcome and introduction to the boot camp, before handing to Sara who explained CleanLaunchpad and then Ron who spoke about Climate-KIC and how the acceleration process works. It was amazing even before the actual training had begun as everyone fell in love with Ron’s passion; how can you blame them when even the wifi password was “RonRocks!” The first session ended with the teams introducing themselves and had a first go at stating their deal.
It wasn’t long during the first break that we had a mishap. One of the participants slipped and dislocated his elbow, requiring immediate medical attention. What followed was a swift transfer to a meeting point with an ambulance that delivered the participant to the Nicosia General Hospital where he received treatment, meaning a quick snap of the elbow back in its place. Needless to say that the entire time this was happening the participant’s main concern was his ability to continue the training! All ended well, with the team quickly catching up in the afternoon and joining everyone for dinner and day 2.
Dinner was served at a local restaurant, with traditional Cyprus “meze” (an endless series of home-cooked delicacies) coloring the tables. Our evening’s surprise was Demetrios Eliades, co-founder of Aqualligence, whose pictures and examples have travelled via slideshow across the 10 countries participating in the competition. Demetrios and his co-founder Theofanis where one of the top 5 teams in last year’s competition by Chrysalis LEAP, and it was great to listen to the entrepreneurial lessons he took from joining Stage 1 of the Climate-KIC Accelerator. His presentation was very passionate and hit bull’s-eye for many of the participants. With a gentle nudge from the local alcohol “zivania”, the team spirit was soaring and everyone was buzzed and eager for day 2.
Day 2 was also very hands on, with teams getting nitty-gritty with their deal, their market segments, and the financials. After a great lunch, it was time for the MOM-test and then the focus shifted on pitching. The teams had a bit of time to prepare prior to being left to the mercy of a simulated jury made up by Ernst & Young and Chrysalis LEAP members. This was the first time teams were pitching on what they had done over the weekend and we made sure to give them some “tough love”. At the end Ron and Paris closed the session, thanking everyone for the contribution while ever-present Sara gave out homework for the teams and collected feedback on what seemed to be a great weekend and closure of the boot camp phase.
It’s now four weeks to the national final and all teams are receiving coaching as we speak. Overall it was a fantastic weekend with a lot of hard work but also fun, Ron and Sara were superb while Ernst & Young Cyprus involvement throughout the boot camp was invaluable. Next stop National Final in Nicosia! Let’s see which three teams will represent Cyprus and Greece in Valencia at the end of October!
Until then, keep starting with your deal!
By Stelios Yiatros, co-organizer of CleanLaunchpad Cyprus & Greece and co-founder Chrysalis LEAP