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Summary & Progress
We kicked off this year’s UP Collective with a very creative and diverse group of entrepreneurs representing 7 different countries of origin.
Due to the pandemic, in 2020 & 2021, the programme was delivered purely online. While the online format turned out to be more successful than we expected, we did miss our pre-pandemic roots which were all about in person experiences. PLACE’s original building blocks of learning, community-building and engagement were usually delivered through LABs: immersive, intensive in-person training days.
2022 was the year we brought LABs back, our immersive, intensive in-person training days! We distributed programme learning into three 9-hour LAB days in three different locations around Paris. The PLACE team brought together staff, volunteers & other community members who had been involved with PLACE from the beginning, so the LABs felt like a reunion.
LABs are like business bootcamps during which our team and participants go into full power mode, jump in with all we’ve got and expect unexpected results!
The secret of our LAB’s success is how they create spaces that allow participants to position themselves as problem solvers and contributors. Participants are faced with the question: “what do YOU want to change?”
Participants start developing ideas, with earnest intentions of solving real world problems. Through many hours of dissecting, questioning, redefining, empathising, sketching, designing, testing and storytelling, entrepreneurs emerged from 2022 UP Collective with 12 clear, targeted, viable projects that could progress into a real startup.
That experience goes against the tired rhetoric of refugees and migrants themselves representing problems, or being burdens on the host country.
New Opportunities & Innovations
In 2022, PLACE introduced peer coaching sessions in every LAB, an activity that had never been utilised before in our community. At the end of each LAB, the Catalysts engaged in guided one-on-one 20-minute peer coaching sessions, which allowed them to connect over goals, experiences and achievements, think about their projects beyond the scope of the programme, and develop personal development goals. They were guided by the programme host who invited them to ask each other a list of questions that gradually helped them reflect on what they’d done so far, what the immediate next step is and where they want to end up.
The 2022 UP Collective testing period also included more theoretical support for user testing and prototyping. New tools were introduced by the LAB hosts, and more time was allocated to developing and understanding the testing and feedback process - from assumption identification to validation through experimentation. The inclusion of more theoretical support and conversations allowed Catalysts to have a deeper understanding of design thinking and research methodologies, and to be more confident in applying them in multiple settings.
Highlights & Learnings
Despite the long hours of working together in each LAB day, the group’s focus was unwavering, especially while guided by our talented Host Sarah McRae who struck a balance between rest and production. The 2022 Catalysts were a group of people who showed such high interest in each other, tireless commitment to their own ideas, projects and to the program, and who offered overwhelming support to one another.
We celebrated the Catalyst’s hard work with a graduation event! The PLACE team intentionally invited incubator professionals and business leaders from the broader PLACE network to facilitate networking opportunities for the graduates. Through encounters and conversations with these leaders, Catalysts explored opportunities that could help them achieve their goals after UP Collective. One participant was even hired by an attendee, who became his B2B service company’s first client! All in all it allowed catalysts to enlarge their network in Paris, and pave the way for new collaborations & relationships.
What’s next for us
We are working on post-programme follow up with our Catalysts. Each participant has an in-depth call with the program manager to determine their next steps. Those who wish to push their entrepreneurial project further will be matched with incubators and the rest will receive support towards other professional opportunities that the broader PLACE network can facilitate.
UP Collective France: 2022 Impact Report
partner, story, social enterprise