For the last 3 years we were hearing about acceleration programs and even we have already participated in a couple of them. But some months ago, we heard about something completely unusual: a deceleration program. Yes, deceleration as slowdown instead of acceleration. And that´s what we are going to talk to you about: our experience at Decelera Mayakoba 2019 the first deceleration program in the world for high impact sustainable-tech companies that in its 5th edition leaves Menorca (Spain) for the first time and arrived in the heart of the Mayan Rivera, specifically in the paradise of #AndazMayakoba resort.
We were honored to be 1 of the 3 Mexican startups out of the 15 startups elected from more than 300 applicants. The goal of the program was to disconnect from the daily activities in order to analyze, validate and reboot the business model with the help of more than 25 business leaders and more than 15 investors from Europe, Latin-America and USA. The program lasted 10 days and it was divided into 3 stages: Breathe, where we started with activities to know each other and define the challenges we wanted to tackle throughout the program. The second phase, Focus, where we evaluate our business model and have 1 on 1 mentoring with business leaders and experts. And we finally closed with the Growth phase, where there were introductions and exposure to investors.
Day 0 – Hello!
Great and warm welcome at Cancun´s airport from the Decelera´s staff team. They took us directly to Mayakoba. This area hosts 4 hotels that share the same beach. They welcomed us with an amazing dinner prepared in the kitchen of the Andaz Mayakoba Resort.
Day 1 – Deceleration (Breathe Phase)
We kicked-off at 7:00am with some exercises with the amazing Anne-Laure Pelletier, then continue with a little networking. After breakfast we had 3 talks: The first one with Professor Hugo Garza from Tec de Monterrey who shared his story, a new educational proposal and some examples of training paths for entrepreneurs. Then Manell Adell, former CEO of DESIGUAL, told us about his experience and gave us advice on how to grow exponentially. Finally, Alicia Stewart talked to us about how to generate a correct storytelling structure for our pitch.
Day 2 – Connect with yourself (Trip to CENOTE)
We started Sunday with the morning exercises, and we took off to one of the most beautiful Cenotes in Cancun. There we had a mindfulness session with the great Ilana Ospina and then a talk with LJ from Google about how to structure a pitch and some tips to explain our projects to venture capital funds. Then we had the opportunity to walk and swim in the cenote. On the way back to Andaz Mayakoba we had an activity where each of the 15 startups gave their pitch and obtained feedback from the experts we just met. We close the day with a session of Yoga and dinner.
Day 3 – A human future (from Breathe to Focus Phase)
The second stage began with talks from business and industry experts, futurists and investors. We met Coss Marte and experienced firsthand its CONBODY program. In short, it´s a fitness program taught by ex-convicts. His proposal is very interesting and intense, highly recommended for people who loves to work out and break the sweat. Then we met Gerd Leonhard at his talk about the future of the global economic system, how technologies are dictating many of the new realities and a workshop on digital ethics. He gifted us a signed copy of his book “Technology vs. Humanity” that we just began reading and it is so good (we will do a blog when we finished reading it). Later it was time for Workstations and 1 on 1 sessions with business experts. For DATLAS it was workstations where we teamed up with a couple of fellow entrepreneurs and business experts in order to get back to basics and thoroughly review the challenge or challenges that we were trying to solve within the program.
Day 4 – A sustainable world
The next day was the sustainability day where we had the opportunity to listen to Valeria Hinojosa, influencer and expert on the subject. We also teamed up with the local authorities to clean up “Punta Esmeralda” beach where we collected about 70 kg (155 pounds) of garbage in just 30 minutes. After lunch we finished the workstations activities from the previous day with some ideas and a roadmap to tackle our challenges with specific actions.
Day 5 – Quality Matters
We met Professor David Charron from UC Berkeley who talk about how to predict markets and users. Then Marcus Dantus came to talk about how to hook an investor and the difference between investors from Mexico, Latin America and USA. Later that day we had one of the funniest experiences of the program. We visited “El Pueblito” where Borja Escalada, CEO of RLH Properties, taught us about chaos management through a cooking challenge. We were divided into teams and the challenge was to prepare a couple of Mexican dishes in an hour. Fortunately, we won the challenge thanks to our great team of hawaiian colleagues from Ultralytics and our countrymen from Parrot Software.
Day 6 – A long standing vision (From Focus to Growth)
On the last day of the Focus phase Lucas Carné, founder of Privalia talked us about how to make things happen and the most important lessons he learned from his experience. We were also visited by Alvaro Morales, CEO of Santander International who taught us the difference between a Founder and a CEO. Also, he gave us the 7 main things to focus as a company and CEO in order to really make it happen and grow efficiently. The last talk of the day was Hector Padilla from Wizeline who told us the importance of listening as a key component of scaling. He encouraged us to take very seriously the way we listen and to recognize the needs and capabilities of others to listen. He made us do a very funny activity to experience the lessons he was talking about.
Day 7 – The power of people (Growth Phase)
The day began with a trip to the K´iin Beh Educational Center. Which began as a rural school among “palapas” and nowadays it is a consolidated Educational Center supported by the Scott Family and Rosewood Mayakoba, among other generous donors. We had the opportunity to look at the original spot where the school begun and finally went to the new compound. We were welcomed by the founders: teacher Raquel and Daniel Scott, who gave us a brief welcome and tell us the story about how K´iin Beh became what it is today. Right after the presentation they left us alone, inside the classroom, to open the envelope with our name on it and read the letter contained inside. It turned out to be a letter written by our loved ones talking about how proud they are that we are undertaking and fighting to create companies and businesses that help the world. It was a very emotional moment. Once the tears dried, we went to the central courtyard where our next great challenge was already waiting for us. We had to give our pitch to the kids in 1 minute! It was hilarious. Finally, they divided the children into different groups. Each group belonged to a different initiative (ex: Health, Ecology, Art and Design, etc.) and we performed an activity in which the little ones wrote what they wanted to be when they grew up and we had to help them devise different ways in which these professions can impact some of the different SDGs.
In the afternoon, the most awaited moment came… time to meet the investors! but nobody expected the way we would break the ice with them. The talented Leslie Liao was responsible for putting us to dance, yes, to start dancing with investors! Sincerely at the beginning we were all a bit stiff but after a few minutes it was all fun, dance and lots of laughs. And if it had not been enough to dance to get to know each other well, then it was a reverse-pitch session in which basically the investors introduced themselves and talked briefly about where they came from, what fund they represented and what were they looking for to invest. With just this couple of activities it was enough to create a friendly environment between the newly arrived investors and the rest of the entrepreneurs. There was a very natural and good chemistry that during dinner we decided to go out to party together! Although we had a hard time getting up to the 7:00 am exercise session the next day (some of us didn´t make it).
Day 8 – Reboot
This is the day that the one-on-one meetings with investors began. It is important to explain that prior to the program they gave us a list of funds and investors that were coming so we could check them out, study a little bit and tell the staff team which of them we were more interested in meeting. The same was for the investors, they were previously aware of the startups that were here, and they took time to study us and choose the ones they were more interested in. In this way we start conversations 1 to 1 during the morning. Right after lunch we had a great talk from Vitaly Golomb about Silicon Valley and Global Clusters of Innovation. An interesting character he was raised in the same place as Steve Jobs and went to the same school as him and Wozniak. A true mastermind with whom we also had the opportunity to have a 1 on 1 meeting. After Vitaly´s talk we finished up with more 1 on 1 with the investors.
Day 9 – Welcome to the community
During the morning we resumed and finished the meetings with investors. At lunch we had some 1 on 1 meetings with the staff team in order to give feedback about the whole experience. At evening there was a last activity to wrap up the program and share some experiences. At night there was a Mayan Ceremony and a delicious special dinner. Right after dinner the farewell party and the welcoming “ritual” to our new community the Decelera´s Family.
Day 10 – See you soon! (Time to get back)
Like every good dream it came the time to wake up and start making it real. At this point there is nothing else we can do but thank the entire staff team involved in making this event happened, it was a phenomenal job. We met entrepreneurs from different parts of the world with whom we forged true friendships and had the opportunity to meet investors of different profiles with whom new business opportunities, growth, investment and maybe something else are opened. A unique program of its kind, we are honored to have participated in and the time that the organization, colleagues, mentors and investors dedicated to us to understand, listen, advise and support us in our challenges was truly meaningful. No doubt that slowing down was key to rethinking the way we are doing things and remembering the real reasons and motivations behind all this. It was an unforgettable experience; highly recommend to fellow entrepreneurs to give themselves the opportunity to have it. Now is time to put into practice everything that we learned. Stay close, something special is about to happen…
-Keep it weird-