By Hannah Parsons, XI CEO

I thought Vance was crazy.

Early on, when Exponential Impact was moving from idea to entity, XI founder Vance Brown described to me an entrepreneur retreat he wanted to incorporate into the accelerator program.

Vance envisioned startups coming from across the country and around the world for a five-day pre-accelerator program where they could learn about XI. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I thought he was foolish, so I postponed the conversation quite convinced the concept would prove impractical or unpopular.

Two Launch Camps later, I confess not only is he not crazy, he’s right. While it is impossible to fully describe the value XI and participating startups earn, here are three key reasons why Launch Camp is central to our success.

1. We compete for startups.

Many accelerators operate in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. They provide valuable programming, work with talented mentors and offer a multitude of investment options. Most include seed investments in exchange for a percentage of equity in the company. This is a significant decision. We believe leaders should have the opportunity to learn about the people who will become a part of their long-term team. Launch Camp does just that. We provide a chance to meet XI staff, investors and mentors. Startups get a snapshot of the program and can make a more-informed decision about the program and the investment.

XI Launch Camp2. XI is a holistic program and likely not for everyone.

XI is based on a Six Peaks framework that includes:

  • story and innovation,
  • health and wellness,
  • awareness,
  • leadership,
  • operational excellence and
  • mentoring.

Betsy Brown opens each week of the XI Accelerator with Mindfulness Mondays. Teams learn breathing techniques, tips for meditation and gain an understanding of how personality assessments help create effective teams. Our guided hikes throughout the summer remind founders to “look up” and exercise self-care. The XI Accelerator is more than a startup grind. We seek to build strong companies that will stand the test of time and develop thriving leaders. Launch Camp gives startups a preview of how we do this.

3. We look for ‘A’ players.

Vance is known for saying he will “take ‘A’ players with ‘C’ technology over ‘C’ players with ‘A’ technology any day of the week.” This is true. When we become involved with early-stage companies, we commit to more than a 14-week program. We invest ourselves in your team. With that in mind, it’s important that we connect and understand what value we can add to ventures. At Launch Camp, we meet founders, understand their technology, identify their biggest needs, gauge their willingness to receive feedback and ultimately decide if we should partner.

Launch Camp isn’t going anywhere, except for back to the mountains in April 2020. If we sound like the kind of people that are your kind of people, drop us a line. We’re always on the search for mentors, investors or participants in our next cohort.

Hannah Parsons is XI’s CEO and a perpetual starter, builder and grower of business, with expertise in financial services, real estate and community and economic development. Outside of studying new technologies and devising her next venture, Hannah is a volunteer, avid reader and semi-decent paddle boarder.