Entrepreneur lab, Bulgaria, May 2019

,,Entrepreneur LAB“ project organised by trainers from ReCreativity a Smokinya Foundation (for whom it was the really first project under their guidance) was held in the abandoned Bulgarian village of Ravnogor. Nevertheless, for the success of the project, it was the right choice, as apart from wild cattle and poultry participants were not disturbed by anything else and could fully focus on topics such as entrepreneurship, sustainability and recycling.

The group was formed from 24 participants coming from 12 countries, each of them with different experience and success stories under their belt, but with the same goal – to use the time together at most to improve their entrepreneurial mindset.

Already the first workshop started quite fiercely and everyone very soon realised, what is the major difference between an assumption and a fact. The fact certainly was that we continued with the presentations of our entrepreneurial ideas, which were not lacking invention, creativity and elements of sustainability and responsibility in entrepreneurship. I realised how extremely well the group was chosen and that every member of the group is an enormously inspiring person.

Following days were filled with the intensive programme. The method of the whole training was non- formal education, hence it was up to every participant to take something from the activities we could potentially implement in the future. For me, as a beginner within this educational form, it was hugely impressive to observe the enthusiasm as well as proactive approach mixed with doubts and questions, to which we did not always get the answers (or we got a very popular one ,,I do not
know“). If happened quite often, that after the workshop like body movement or some creative workshop we carried off rather some feeling or mental state than an exact skill. I admit that at the beginning I was not completely aligned to this, however, as time passed by I immersed into it and just enjoyed the activities. The huge attention was dedicated also on the topic of recycling and reutilisation of plastics, tetra packs etc. It was immensely interesting to watch the guys making wallets, bottle covers or toys from the trash.

But let’s not overlook the entrepreneurial nature of the project and let’s have a deeper look at two workshops, which had a direct impact on social entrepreneurship.

The first of them, elevator pitch, lead us to try how difficult it could be to present yourself or your idea in a short period of time. This concept comes from the US and evolved from the need to sell your project during the elevator route. With time and repeating the process each of us gained the
ability to introduce himself and to sell his idea as well. Even though I had known the concept before, I find it important to always remind ourselves how not to waste our time with insignificant information and communicate even more efficiently.

Second key concept discussed was the DISC model. It represents a system dividing people according to their personal traits. The four basic types are dominant, influencer, conscientious and steady. Every type is typical for its characteristic qualities or behaviours in a crisis situation. Dominant types are decisive, direct and results-oriented people, who can sometimes lack empathy or showing emotions. Among influencers, we consider people with a lot of energy and ideas which they cannot always materialise into final results. Steady people are those, who prefer security and comfort while many times they are the ones cementing the collectives. Conscientious types are analysts with a sense of organisation and focus on details and logic flow of the process.

Based on these specifications we were consecutively split to groups in order to try a roleplay while behaving as our opposite character. Each of us as though a chance to perform his or her ideas in an unusual position. As far as I am concerned, it was probably the key takeaway of the whole project,
because despite already gathered knowledge about this principle I had never realised how important is to adapt my communication style according to the personality type I face. I consider such a quality absolutely essential and possible to apply explicitly within an entrepreneurship or private life.

The final step of the whole project was the surprise communicated repeatedly since the beginning. We had an opportunity to help the local community in the realisation of a project from the list which locals considered useful for the village. We used this in practice already gathered knowledge (and even more) from all the training before. We revitalised the basketball court, marked the signs all along the marathon track and organised cultural afternoon event for locals.

I rate Entrepreneur LAB project extremely successful. Apart from interesting workshops and non- formal education was for me an enriching week and something full of discussions, life different perspectives and endless laughter. It has been a long time I have met such a balanced, inspiring and intelligent bunch of people. I am very grateful for this experience.