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HGL Team   /  

From Kristina Williams, founder of Unpacking and member of Cohort 4.

Cohort 4 enjoying the campfire in Woodside.

The stars are cascaded across the sky like glitter after a children’s birthday party. The glow from the fire pit is highlighted across faces full of laughter. Chatter of electoral campaigns, product roadmaps and flashbacks to the epic dance party at Shomik’s wedding fill the air. Cohort 4 of Higher Ground Labs’ Founder Academy is evidenced at The Canyon Ranch retreat nestled deep in the forest of Woodside, CA.

During the days, speaker after speaker pours gem after gem into the ether as all 9 teams soak up definitive strategies to scale their business. From flat-rate, tier-based, lifetime buy, to freemium, Andrew McLaughlin guided the cohort through best practices to increase the Lifetime Value of our customers while Dr. Lian Bloch broke down sustainable self-care practices to reduce burn out and create habitual norms that improve organizational culture for our teams. 

“Fall in love with solution, not the tactic,” were wise words spoken by Shiva Rajaman, who also reinforced the importance of getting our users to the magic moment as soon as possible. We should, “run simultaneous experiments at once to gain rapid feedback on UX/UI development,” he proclaimed.

As Ryan Clinton coached everyone on the importance of doing due diligence on the funds we seek just as much as they do on us, being strategic about strategic investors, and evaluating if a fund can provide access to strategic advisors, customer acquisition pipelines, and product development support, Betsy Hoover & Shomik Dutta guided us on the importance of crafting iterations in our pitch to build trust with our differing audiences; customers, investors, talent recruits etc. Hillary Lehr laid the foundation of how we best communicate our companies to the public through a practical and memorable approach to telling our story of self in a way that is more show than tell.

Broken up by morning yoga, afternoon hikes, and some of the most deliciously healthy meals some of our quarantined bodies have seen in quite a while, leaders of cohort businesses also took the stage to share their expertise. Leah Alpert of Bluelink, reinforced the importance of building our products from the perspective of having future integrations in mind, having data consistency across products, and intentional consideration of the types of data that is most interesting for both your business and your customers. Adam Miller of Universe reviewed why monitoring tech debt needs to be a priority through baked-in maintenance, obsessive documentation, optimized cost, and recycling on open source codes for quicker scalability. Malia Fisher of Vocal provided insight on best practices in digital marketing, storytelling, and content creation, emphasizing the greatest conversion rates come from micro-influencers who create their own content rather than heavily produced celebrity brands. I, Kristina Williams, representing Unpacking, also gave a presentation on Futurist Thinking, outlining ways to implement better business strategies for tomorrow based on trends and signals we see in society today.

Overall seeing humans in full flesh in such an intimate environment, with shared interests, aspirations, and purpose was one of the most impactful experiences we could have asked for. We will all be linking up again to put what we’ve learned into practice during our DC Pitch week in October.