Isn’t it odd how distant December seems once you’re in January? So last year. But it was only last month, and although there was only one formal mentors day, Accelerate Cambridge coaches and mentors continued their support by email, phone and social media, with some added cheer, reflection and of course seasonal socialising thrown in. There was even surprise news of a baby. And of course, Luther couldn’t let the festivities go by without lighting himself up like a Christmas tree.
Luther’s baublicious bright idea was his Accelerator Suit. A marvelous concoction of leather-look and battery-powered twinkling lights, Luther’s Suits for Suits Day ensemble played no small role in raising over £1,000 in just two short months to help MSF equip frontline health workers in their Ebola treatment centres with protective suits. Accelerate Cambridge entrepreneurs, mentors and coaches, as well as the wider Judge Business School staff were a teensy bit more conservative in their choice of suits than our own dear Luther, but put hands deep into their pinstriped pockets to support not one, but two Suits for Suits Days in the run up to Christmas. Dress up is clearly the new dress down at Accelerate.
Twinkly lights went on to be a recurring theme. You’d expect some at this time of year, and courtesy of our host, Sir Paul Judge, who welcomed Accelerate ventures, coaches, mentors, sponsors and business partners to his 18th floor Thames-side home, we got to play with just about every light bulb in London at our Christmas party. Battersea Bridge, the London Eye, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, Big Ben, the Shard, they all glittered and sparkled for us as we oohed and ahhed and (some) posed for selfies with the lit-up capital as our backdrop.
That’s where I heard about the baby. Fantastic, marvellous news for one of my coachees: “Don’t worry,” is the gist of what he told me: “I’m sure I can juggle baby and business. I’m young. What are a few sleepless nights between business partners?” Cue a heart-to-heart familiar to all parents, stressing that when we say, Your life will change utterly and completely, we really do know whereof we speak. Cue also, the realisation that just having this conversation about the impact on performance and productivity of a real-life new life with a prospective father counts as a huge step forward for gender equality in the world of work. The fact that Hanadi and I are both women, with six children between us, aged from 21 to 7 years old, may also have something to do with our get real, start planning now #hands-on-dad perspective.
Life lessons aside, what else was going on over what we kid ourselves is a holiday season? I joined Hanadi for an investors’ body language debrief and pick-me-up pep talk for one puzzled venture climbing down from the high of a frustrating pitch. There was social media sharing for Rize’s crowd-funding initiative, plus a reminder that January’s Blue Monday is a good PR opportunity. Hanadi and I even had a quiet lunch together with minimal interruptions – all who know her will appreciate what an achievement that is – and there was time to make our New Year resolutions: no more heels at parties.
Other coaching stuff that took me off the sofa and distracted from the Bendicks Mints? I tore myself away from the Booker shortlist my sister-in-law always gifts me at Christmas to do some background reading for the value proposition workshops we’ll run for the new cohort of ventures joining Accelerate in January; reviewed new websites for Rize and treev; and congratulated KisanHub on their share of a £1 million injection to enterprises on the cutting edge of the Internet of Things from TechCity UK. Notes of thanks from ventures really taking flight – like those from Nick Hatter at Giftgaming and particularly KisanHub CEO Sachin’s generous thank you to coaches and mentors are up there as 2014 highlights. Bask in reflected glory: that’s what the Accelerate Cambridge team of #FantasticAdvisers do in the holidays.