Introducing the F10 University – why hybrid Incubation Programs are here to stay

July 27, 2021

Like everyone else, when the pandemic hit, F10 had to find a way to keep its programs running online, while the world at large was in more or less strict lockdown.

For our incubation programs in particular, with intensive masterclass weeks that combine input presentations and hands-on workshops, an alternative approach was needed, and quickly. What emerged is a new program approach that shifts between individual online learning modules and in-person or virtual live sessions and workshops.  

We talked to Robin Sengupta from the F10 team about his experience in developing this new approach.  

What did you do when it first became clear in March 2020, that the programs won’t be able to run in person anymore?  

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.

How did that lead to the F10 university format?

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.

What are the advantages of the F10 University?

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.

Why the hybrid approach?  

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.

Are there any disadvantages?

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.  

How will the program develop once the situation relaxes, travel restrictions are lifted, and we can all be back in one room together? Will the program go back to how it was before?

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.  

Want to be part of the next Incubation Programs in Singapore or Barcelona? You can now apply here!

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