Blog / SnowHow: Mountain vs. Startup

January 26, 2016

At Unboxed, we like to work with, and mentor, entrepreneurs and startups. We love ideas. Growing ideas and exploring new ones – not only our own but those of others. That’s why we’re spending this year working with 50th Generation – a purpose-led startup incubator for startups who are striving to grow for profit and purpose.

Since October, we’ve been mentoring and working with each of the startups in the incubator, including:

Whether it’s one-to-one mentoring sessions, group learning, phone calls, Google Hangouts or Slack-ing – it’s a multi-channel way of working together. One of the core activities of this programme is where we spend one day per month and get together with everybody in the incubator, face-to-face, in one location to focus on key topics for business growth. We call these GenCamps (Generation Camps).

GenCamp4 took place last week, and it was a little bit more special than our usual London-based GenCamps… Bonjour, French Alps. 17 entrepreneurs – a blend of Unboxed, 50th Generation and 50th Generation mentors – all boarded flights across London airports and headed to the French Alps for a two-day extravaganza.

Airport

Allow me to introduce SnowHow:

SnowHowWow

Why the French Alps?

Building a business is very much like climbing a mountain. So why not climb a mountain? Experience it in the literal way. Getting away from the normality of day-to-day life and looking at things from a different perspective was the aim. What does normal life look like when you’re 1,800m above sea level and out of your safe zone? How does your biggest worry in daily life measure up to not knowing if a rogue mountain wolf could devour you? It’s a very good way of untangling a messy brain and putting things into perspective.

There was a lot of talk in metaphors, but all related to each of our journeys:

  • How do you know if you’re climbing the wrong mountain?
  • Climbing the mountain yourself is much more rewarding, and a much bigger achievement, than being helicoptered to the top by someone else
  • How do you know when you’ve reached the peak?
  • There’s no option to give up – you have to keep going

Mountain or business – these are all very relevant (and quite powerful) questions and statements.

We started at the bottom of the mountain as a startup begins its journey into the world of business. The six-and-a-half hour journey up certainly was a challenge, but so is the journey from startup to success. As Miley Cyrus once said – “It’s the cliiiiiiimb”:

(Other popular sing-alongs on the journey included: ‘All I Want For SnowHow Is You’ and ‘SnowHow, SnowHow, it’s off to work we go’).

Mountain vs. Startup: How they compare

You can’t do it alone
“Going it alone” doesn’t necessarily mean going it alone. You need your friends. Whether it’s to laugh with, motivate you, support you, tell you you’re ridiculous, or just to bounce your latest wild idea off.

There’s always the unknown
Even when going into something with your eyes wide open, there will always be an element of the unknown. You can’t predict or know everything that is going to happen.

“Are we there yet?”
This is a question you will probably never be able to answer, no matter how many times you ask it…

…And the highlights

The big wide world
Standing at the top of a mountain peak, with only the moonlight to guide the way is quite a surreal feeling…

Up the mountain


The people
What a team. From those who were too scared to venture to the extremes (i.e. me), to those who were ready and raring to go from the get-go - we all pulled together to tackle the big goal:

The people

More people

And more people

But as well as the big climb, there was the reward of sliding down the other side:

Slip and slide


Fondue
Melted cheese and good chat. The ultimate.

Fondue


Time to listen
Being so far from “civilisation” and being in a small group gave a great opportunity to listen to others, with no real distraction. A great platform for hearing what challenges others are facing in their startups and batting around ideas together to overcome these challenges.

Running across


The sights
Just amazing.

SnowWow

Happy Claire

Clouds below

Are they clouds? Is it snow? Turns out, both. The clouds of the town beneath and the snow under us. Thankfully, we didn’t walk onto the clouds.

Unboxed
I’m part of a great team.

Unboxed

SnowHow in numbers

1
Big mountain

2
Days

17
Entrepreneurs

13,492
Cereal bars consumed (*approximate)

The top

Snowbye