What is the most important ingredient when starting a business? This question or something similar to that effect stuck to my mind as this was the first question asked by our mentors during the 6-weeks training with the Balloon Ventures Program.
What is Balloon Ventures?
Before I dive in to my experience with Balloon Ventures allow me to first introduce what Balloon Ventures is. I’d let Josh and Doug share what Balloon Ventures is and how they started:
In the Philippines, Baguio City was lucky enough to have been chosen as the first location in South East Asia to be under the Balloon program. When we asked the question why Baguio? The answer that we got is because of the weather and the huge interest of people in Baguio with regards to entrepreneurship, but mostly the weather ;-).
Should I Sign Up?
A friend of mine introduced us to Balloon Ventures and shared the link about the program, at that moment I was so excited when I started reading their requirements until I saw the age requirement. My heart sank because well…I am over the age limit. So I said to myself oh well maybe it’s not for me. Until another friend of mine sent me a message regarding the program, what are the odds two of my friends who are unknown to each other are asking me to apply? I took it as a sign, I pleaded my case regarding my age if they could make an exception. At that time even without waiting for any confirmation I just applied because, well, I know I would benefit a lot from the program!
For me at that time my mindset was, “I’ve got nothing to lose” if my application will be accepted then that would be awesome, if my application will be denied then that is awesome still because I would not have to live my life asking “what if?”.
I received the news that my application was accepted and was so happy, excited and worried at the same time, because it means that I have to put most of the things that I do, on hold to commit to this 6-weeks program. Buy hey, I am here and I should never quit!
Our First Week
On our first week we were given an orientation on what the program is about, and “how to deal” with our mentors. I realized there are differences in the English language and I have to prepare my vocabulary, like saying Crisps instead of Chips. On the second part of the orientation we were divided into groups of about 6 members each group and our group were paired with 3 mentors. For our group we were going to be mentored by Ellie Mae, Henry and Hannah.
The Second and Third Meetup
On our second meetup we met as a group with our mentors at the Baguio Convention Center. We were introduced to the concept of Business Model Canvass. I am not going to lie, I have heard, attended events and even enrolled a coursera course on Business Model canvass and I never understood the salient points on how to make or use it. This time around however, the series of activities made me understand what business model canvass is and how important it is to starting a business. It gives you an overview on what your business would look like and what you should do who to target and more!
Another activity that really made me realize a great deal about my business which happened on our next meetup, is the activity on Spaghetti’s and Marshmallow. So the Idea is to build the tallest spaghetti tower where the marshmallow should be at the top and the tower should stand. We almost got the tower to stand but ran out of time. The lesson imparted to us by our mentors is that building a business is a lot like the spaghetti tower. To make the spaghetti tower we should start small, and build from it with the marshmallow on top, meaning try out an idea start small and build the business from it. Do not grow too fast or build your business too fast because that would bring your business to having a shaky foundation and it would crumble eventually. A very valuable lesson I learned and I wished I had learned about it earlier before I started and failed in my business which was the first Co-Working space in Baguio City.
For the next weeks we were told that we are going to meet with our mentors 1-on-1. Looks like this time they will focus on my pitched business. Which I will discuss in Part 2 of my post.