Oasis 500 bootcamp is finished and I’m glad of having been a part of it. The program was very good – 6 days of thorough training about running an online business. The sessions included pitching, finance, marketing, business model generation etc. The remarkable thing was that all the topics were designed specifically for online businesses and they were very practical in nature. For example in Marketing, instead of giving along theory about 4P, 6P or 7P, most of the talk was about the Chasm, concrete examples and making the participants define their target markets and ways of reaching them. Also, a lot of emphasis was put on internetmarketing, explaining the conversion rates and the industry’s standards in them. I’m not going to go into deep details of the exact contents, rather I’d point out some other issues which made the program a remarkable one (and why couple of participants told the British embassador in the very last session that it was indeed the most influential week of their life so far):
– relentless learning (by organisers). If you have ever been in a multi-day conference or seminar, you have probably seen the feeback forms and if you are among the minority, maybe you even wrote some feedback on them. Well, in Oasis, everyone did. Each day started with a half an hour session for recapping the previous day. For each of the sessions the facilitator would have everybody to write feedback. If you left a box empty, ho would come back and demand something. Since the bootcamp was 9th overall I’m sure that they had done the same before. Only by getting feedback are you able to improve.
– making participants to participate. I already mentioned about the fine you’ld have to pay if you were late to the sessions. This fine was actually enforced, I did see quite a few people paying it. Another measure they used was not giving anyone the wifi-password. Again, this made a whole lot of difference from the majority of seminars where half of the people sit behind their computers and not really participate. Homework. On each day they gave the homework which you were supposed to send back by the next morning. On the final day I also learned that the participants from Jordan had to pay a fee of 100 jod (110 eur) which was to be reimbursed only if the person participated on all the sessions and did all the homework.
– giving honest and blunt feedback. There were a lot of sessions where people made a presentation or a sales pitch to the committee, which then gave feedback. The feedback was as honest as I could be. When the presenter sucked, the evaluator told him/her that. In one pitching session the committee gave marks on the scale of 1 (very bad) to 5 (very good). Two pitchers out of 18 actually manager to get an average score of less than 1. Well, yes, their performances very pretty weak, but getting 0.8 average on the scale of 1 – 5 is still pretty remarkable.
– guest entrepreneurs. At the end of each day, there was a “fireplace-chat” with some local successful (IT-)entrepreneur, who had been there, done that and gotten the T-shirt. Definitely a great inspiration to young entrepreneurs.
– active participation. Arabic entrepreneurs are active participants. The questions after sessions usually did not finish before the facilitator had to remark that now it is really the time to go to lunch.
This week the entrepreneurs have to first pitch to become incubated in Oasis and receive the first round of 10k. I’m obviously not going to participatesince with LogistIT we are beyond that point and I’m in England already. However, at some time in the spring there will be a pitching session to the local business angel network (some 100+ angels are expected to show up) and depending on the circumstances, I might be presenting there.