In an effort to make the journey of a Builder more collaborative, this month the Clifton Foundation launched BuilderTeams to its Alumni Network. BuilderTeams structures advice-oriented meet-ups in a safe, confidential, virtual space amongst like-minded peers. Although the meet-ups are scheduled as quick 45-minute sessions, most of the participants stayed online an hour and a half past the scheduled time at the inaugural BuilderTeams meet-up. Seven different Builder programs and four different countries were represented. Everyone loved meeting Builders they hadn’t met before! Most who gathered “didn’t realize how many Builders programs [there were] and [were] amazed at how spread out everyone is,” Jordan De Spong (UNL CSI Builders 2020).
Alumni were asked to show-up ready to share a current challenge they’re facing related to “work life”. The other Builders in their BuilderTeam were then prompted to respond to the person sharing the challenge with contextualizing questions followed by a round of advice. Builders amusingly surprised each other with the boldness of each others’ projects, and on the flip-side, with everyone’s eagerness to be of service. Shared challenges included scaling a jewelry business in India, a clothing start-up in Washington, DC, an MVP for a match.com of clothing in Lincoln, Nebraska, digitalizing a mentalism show business in Canada and timing the tradeoffs of a steady paycheck to venturing off on your own.
Everyone was left feeling excited to have given and received helpful advice from “like-minded people” and as Leo (Mexico Builders 2015) said, pleasantly “surprised to see that these builders were very engaged and had a genuine interest in hearing other people’s problems.” “It was impressive to see how builders are so motivated and focused towards their goals,” Arihant Mittal (UNL CSI Builders 2022).
Many alumni who participated have since had additional follow-up meetings with peers from their BuidlerTeams. Ashley Clegg (Lincoln Builders 2017, UNL CSI Builders 2022) shared, “I got some great advice on MVP development from Nate Bensing (Washington, DC Builders 2017), and he followed up with some more great insights! I love how readily willing Builders are to help each other.” Arihant shared that the advice he received “about reaching out to Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists seemed quite helpful. It was really appreciated by the people with whom I am working on the idea.” For Nate, his participation in BuilderTeams was developmental for his career as a CS consultant, “I have found it has been helpful for my own growth because I am learning how to explain CS related things to people with varying levels of technical knowledge and who have different priorities.” Nico Jochnick (Washington, DC Builders 2016) encapsulated the ultimate goal of the event, “it’s so helpful to talk to people on a similar journey, who are struggling with some of the same things you are. It makes you feel less alone, which is quite common amongst entrepreneurs.”
The Clifton Foundation will continue to organize and grow BuilderTeams. Global Builder Alumni were each originally identified for their entrepreneurial talent and participated in specialized learning and development in their respective Builders program. The Clifton Foundation aims to connect this community so that it generates real business advice, socio-emotional support, and fruitful business relationships throughout a lifetime of entrepreneurial pursuits. The next BuilderTeams meet-up will take place Wednesday, July 28th at 6pm Central. Global Builder Alumni can register at www.thecliftonfoundation/events