It’s hard to put into words what being part of the Curtin Ignition Growth program is really like. For those of you I have seen over the past couple of weeks, I tried my best to convey just how AH-MAY-ZING!!! it was but I think I still fell short. Every time I walked away from a “how was Ignition” conversation, I realised I left something out. So, I decided to take a step back and actually put pen to paper because I am old school…then keyboard into Interweb.

Here goes…

For a week you get to take part in an amazing program. You learn from very experienced professionals who would otherwise be completely out of reach for someone at the very early stages of business. These professionals have been where you are – had an idea and went for it… but they didn’t just go for it, they cultivated their businesses to the point that they are now worth a few pretty pennies. They have excelled in their fields and are leaders but they are also very generous and thoughtful with their expertise and time.

Case in point: a delegate went up to one of the speakers after his session and told him that her 15 year old son wanted to be a banker when he grew up. Basically she was enquiring if he had any tips. Instead, this fine gentleman gave her his card and told her to tell her son to come have a chat with him. That right there is the spirit of Ignition. They nurture your ideas, inspire you and guide you to smash your goals.

For five and a half days you are in a room full of people who have a burning desire to grow their ideas and businesses. At the start of the week you are all separate and totally random entities hauled into one room to learn and to grow your own idea. By the end of it, it’s a completely different vibe. It’s not just about you and how YOU can go ahead. It becomes bigger than you and your idea.

One might think, intensive entrepreneurship program = boring, straight laced, rigid, yuck. Yes, there was a cowbell. Yes, there was a tight schedule. But boring and yuck? More like the opposite! The lovely people who work behind the scenes for months to put together the program know how to have fun. The atmosphere, from the minute you walk in on Sunday afternoon to when you drag your sorry tired butt to the car on the Friday night is so welcoming, relaxed and positively supportive. And this filters on to everyone – delegates, speakers, facilitators and mentors. It is an intensive week of learning but it is not boring or mind numbing. It is so much fun and the cowbell – well, I wouldn’t argue with Christopher Walken so more cowbell I say!

Mornings are dedicated to learning all the stuff. Afternoons are spent with the mentor groups reviewing all the stuff and applying all the stuff. It is with the mentor group that you get to work on your presentation pitch, which is the culmination of a whole week of insane, intensive learning. The presentation pitch is a Shark Tank style pitch in front of a panel of three or four potential investors.

Ignition starts on Sunday afternoon where they give you the heads up and hand you a tool belt (metaphorically, literally they give you a pretty cool bag with all the materials you will need for the week and a few extra presents from the sponsors). Continuing the tool belt metaphor here so please be patient… The morning sessions are all about giving you the tools you need for your tool belt. The afternoons are spent sharpening these tools and practicing how to use them with your mentor group.  Friday afternoon is the presentation – a chance for you to show off how cool your tool belt is now and how much you know about the tools in it.

Yes, there is a chance that you could be the biggest tool in that tool belt of yours but luckily there’s an expert panel who guide you on how you can fully utilise that belt and everything in it (giant tool included) for grand future successes. 

The mentor group… well, is it possible to end up loving a whole bunch of randoms after just 5.5 days? To be so excited about their ideas and so invested in their journey so far and more so going forward? To be a tad protective and ensure it all goes well for them? To be racking your brain about how you can help, in any way possible? Yes, yes it is! What a wonderful bunch of people. The support, critique and tips – wow, just WOW. But the main thing is I am confident this didn’t end when we finished Ignition. The bond is so strong that I am now part of their journey and they are also embedded in mine.

Same goes with the other delegates. You go through this insane, intensive week… by Wednesday everyone is walking around in a daze but still so keen to help everyone else in any way possible.

What did Ignition do for me? I met some amazing people with brilliant ideas and so much passion. Most of all, I was pushed to think about how far I could take my business. At this point in my businesses life cycle it’s exciting to think about what I could do with $5,000.  During Ignition, when you have someone sitting in front of you, challenging you to think about what $50k, $100k, $300 and upwards could do. You think big! Your self-imposed limitations are obliterated and you look further ahead, much further and start aiming for much bigger goals.

You meet some amazing people who want you to succeed. Two weeks post Ignition and I am happy to report that the support and bond is still there. On social media and in person! I have been provided a space to work in between meetings (with endless tea and snacks – definitely winning!), support to get the product out and lovely visits at market stalls. And lots and lots of tips on the business from so many people, including an introduction to someone in the industry courtesy of one of the one on one clinicians.

Ignition basically gets a group of entrepreneurs with the fire, drive and passion in their belly. Then spends a week dousing that fire with everything they can. By the end of it you don’t just have fire in your belly; you are The Human Torch, entrepreneurial edition!

And now one last photo – this is me talking about Ignition two days after the program ended. MIND BLOWN!

about erica

At this point in time, I have lived my life 50/50 in the Philippines and Australia, I am determined to make a positive impact in both countries I consider my home. Through Baked by Erica, I endeavour to spread joy and happiness to everyone I meet through delicious baked treats and use the profits from these treats to spread the joy and happiness further to a small farming community in the Philippines. Building an empire and changing lives, one cookie at a time!

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