When the Accelerator ends, the real work begins. That’s why Fast Forward, in partnership with AT&T, launched our first ever Alumni Retreat this year. Set amongst the Oakland Hills in a big (maybe haunted) mansion, Fast Forward alumni from the past five cohorts gathered to connect, reflect, and learn from one another.
“Some of the best moments of the Fast Forward Accelerator have been talking to and learning from other founders. When you talk to other founders you realize all the challenges, doubts, and failures you experience are part of the journey. Other founders are able to provide you with a sounding board and advice you can’t replicate.” – Liz Lee
To make the Alumni Retreat as accessible as possible, we hosted it the same week as Accelerate Good Global. As a bonus, alumni had a place to stay for the entire AGG week.
Yep, that’s the mansion! We kicked off the week with an alumni dinner, hosting tech nonprofits founders and employees for a fun night of tacos from Oakland’s local Cholita Linda (5 stars)…
There were insightful conversations with colleagues old and new…
Lots of catching up with the Fast Forward crew…
… and a glam photoshoot with the Fast Forward step and repeat.
Then came a long night of sleep (& snacks, & card games, & laughter). In the words of Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca, “We played card games at night which was a great way to be social for a while and laugh. We even played a round with ‘ELLEN,’ the original house owner in the 1800s.” (You guessed it – Ellen is the resident ghost.)
The next morning, the Alumni geared up for a full day of programming with the goal of sharing best practices on subjects ranging from fundraising to organizational goal setting. First stop? The kitchen for some coffee and bagels.
With full bellies and caffeinated brains, the alumni gathered in the dining room for peer-led content. First up were Liz Lee, Founder & CEO of Online SOS and Dale McGrew, Co-Founder & CTO of We Vote, on organizational strategy and goal setting. During the session, alumni made a pro and con list of management tools (like Notion, Asana, and Trello), and then set or reviewed OKRs for their tech nonprofit. Everyone loved the session and walked away feeling more ready to meet (and exceed!) their impact goals.
This session was followed by a helpful discussion on fundraising & sustainable revenue led by Jamie Alexandre, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Learning Equality. As implementing earned revenue streams becomes more and more commonplace for tech nonprofits, a candid conversation about what this looks like in practice was extremely useful.
After a long morning of learning, it was time for some R&R. In true Bay Area fashion, we did some yoga, led by Ruth Goldstone!
Sixto Cancel, Founder & CEO of Think of Us, led us through an off-the-record talk on lessons learned throughout his time as a founder. With experience in (almost) every corner of the founder ring, his insights hit home with everyone in the room.
And finally, it was dinner time. As was thematic of the day, we brought in local greek food from Ikaros. During dinner, the alumni hosted a conversation around maximizing their time at AGG – important connections to make and sessions not to miss. In the words of Aly Murray, Founder & CEO of UPchieve, “The joint prep work for AGG was very collaborative and not competitive. It was refreshing and really nice.”
The next few days went off without a hitch, with the retreat house serving as a wonderful home base for alumni looking to connect, and stay somewhere comfortable during AGG. We are so grateful to AT&T for enabling this special experience! To sum up, we simply couldn’t have said it better than Liz Lee: “Big thank you to the sponsors who saw value in this because it’s the intangible value that has an immense impact. Thank you for seeing the value of these types of connections and experiences for the people who are really changing our future.”