Pitch Practice, a Letter to The Universe, and a DJ: My Experience at the POC Entrepreneurial Bootcamp
“No matter what happens, keep going.” That was the quote printed in gold on the miniature chalkboard that caught my eye when Doris instructed the women in the breakout session classroom to reach for a board that spoke to us. Doris Quintanilla, Co-Founder of The Melanin Collective, was leading the first session of the daylong POC Entrepreneurial Bootcamp and honestly, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The truth was, although I had success with my first business, I’d never attended a founder’s bootcamp before. Even after I applied and learned that my edtech startup, Premedly, was chosen to participate, I had my doubts. Not only would I have to find and hire a babysitter for the first time in 7 years in order to attend the event (moms, you know what this is like), I would be stepping out of my bubble and finally asking (and getting) help as an entrepreneur. I knew, in the end, that my decision to participate in such an event was long overdue because as a solo founder, I was trying to do everything myself and if I wanted to take my startup to the next level, it was time for change.
“No matter what happens, keep going.”
Turns out, the POC Entrepreneurial Bootcamp was just what I needed. From sharing personal truths about my past, present, and future and reflecting on the importance of self-care, to writing a letter to The Universe that was probably way too “deep,” I found myself feeling empowered -- and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet! I was among a group of women who were not only passionate about their businesses, but showed genuine interest in supporting the entrepreneurial journey of others. We listened, we shared, we laughed – the energy in the room was real and it was awesome! My partner for the morning session was Viviana, an amazing, mission-driven entrepreneur who was not shy about her passion for diversity and inclusion in the arts and striving to make an impactful contribution. The morning session came to an end and by that time, I had already knew this was the bootcamp I didn’t know I needed.
I went through the working lunch and the rest of the day knowing that I was in a space where I was safe to share and reflect on my strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between. So, when it came time to practice my pitch in front of the entire group, my feelings of nervousness simmered. Nekpen Osuan, Co-Founder and CEO of WomenWerk, opened up the session by providing a simple framework and guided exercises to perfect our pitches. I was up first. I pitched my startup along with all of the other founders, and not only learned from the feedback I received from Nepken, but also learned from watching the others. The pitch practice session was just the session I needed to prepare me for my one-on-one with Eric Ham, a Sirius XM radio host. My interview with Eric was yet another opportunity for me to talk about my startup – sharing my “why,” answering hard questions, and in the end, getting people as passionate about Premedly as I am.We closed out the day with the networking portion of the bootcamp, but it was a networking event unlike any other networking event I had ever attended. This was networking on purpose, with guided networking activities led by Rakia Finley, CEO of Surge Assembly. The networking experience was thoughtful, informative, and equipped me with clear, actionable takeaways. And, let me not forget DJ NotNxrmal, whose musical presence served to lighten the mood.
"I found myself feeling empowered -- and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet!"
In the end, a few words I would use to describe my experience at the POC Entrepreneurial Bootcamp would be: Empowering, Thought-Provoking, Intentional, Encouraging, and Supportive. I appreciated the hard work of Doris, Gamal, and the Bootcamp Task Force to organize such a great experience, and know that I am one step closer to fulfilling my full potential as a serial entrepreneur.
And that mini chalkboard I received?t now hangs over my desk in my home office and as I continue on my entrepreneurial journey I'll be reminded each day to keep going, no matter what.
Tasheema Prince is the founder of Premedly, a microlearning platform for job-seekers to increase employability by learning in-demand skills for health care.