We talked to Robin Sengupta from the F10 team about his experience in developing this new approach.
You can imagine that we were taken by surprise. But to ensure everybody's safety and still offer a unique learning experience, we got creative.
We started to experiment with different digital tools, organized hybrid sessions where some teams were still at F10 in person and others were dialling in from their home. We played around with digital whiteboards, online breakout rooms to still facilitate interactive workshops.
As for many others, there were a few hiccups here and there in the beginning, but we soon got used to it.
Seeing the positive aspects that come with online sessions, we decided to take it a step further. Last fall we started to build our own library of pre-recorded lessons, just like you may know from an online university. With the help of our great ecosystem, we built a catalog of online courses around topics that are relevant for early-stage startups. For example, how to validate their hypothesis, building a solid business model, designing their go to market strategy, raising funds and much more.
One advantage is that we can make best practice knowledge available globally. Startups across all our hubs have access to the same high-quality courses. No matter whether they are in one of our programs in Singapore, Spain or Switzerland.
It also allows for self-paced learning. Every startup in the program has individual needs, is at a different stage and different topics can be relevant for them at different times. With the online courses the teams can now deep-dive into topics whenever they choose to do so. This is one of the biggest advantages of asynchronous learning.
Providing online courses with the relevant theory, concepts or methods is just the first step. The second, and more important step, is internalizing this knowledge. We do this with live sessions, where we foster learning by doing, training and exercises.
Another important reason to join F10 is to get access to relevant stakeholders. Our program lives from real life interactions where people meet and learn from each other. Be it from subject matter experts, other startups, mentors and our corporate partners and the rest of the F10 ecosystem.
We still want to connect the startups to relevant players in the ecosystem and this needs live, face-to-face interactions.
Spending time with your peers, having a spontaneous chat at the coffee machine, long hours at the white board, ordering pizza or going for a drink after a hard day: The part we all know from our university days and that happens naturally during “normal” masterclasses is hard to replicate online.
Pre-recorded lessons can’t replace live sessions and peer learning. Whether they happen virtually or, ideally, in person. They are complementary.
By making sure that pre-recorded online sessions are then discussed and deepened with Q&A sessions, group discussions and exercises, we combine the best of both worlds to our advantage.
We practice what we preach and have chosen an iterative approach of setting up our curriculum. This means we closely monitor how the entrepreneurs perceive the online courses and workshops. Like every innovator, we ask our users for feedback and make needed adjustments. So there surely will be some changes here and there but I believe that the online courses mixed with live workshops and interactions are a model of the future.