A startup retreat is something between a seminar and a team-building event, between co-working spaces and co-living spaces. The idea of living together just long enough to put a project together is catching on, and startup retreats are proliferating. Organized far from conventional conference rooms and dreary hotels — aboard a boat, up in the mountains or near the beaches of the Pacific — startup retreats break with daily habits and provide an exotic, inspiring work setting. The work environment is an essential factor in productivity and creativity: for example, working within sight of nature is said to multiply our ability to concentrate. The five initiatives described below are reminiscent of artists’ residences where roaming artists can stay long enough to design and produce their work — proof that today’s entrepreneurs have become like any other artists.
– How about putting out to the open sea aboard a catamaran? Ocean air and endless horizons attract adventurous entrepreneurs and digital nomads. If you enjoy the sea, why not board the Coboat with your team? The concept of this environmentally-friendly adventure was thought up by three freelance workers based in Thailand. The 25-metre catamaran is equipped with a high-speed satellite connection and can accommodate up to 20 people. After meetings, participants can jump in for some deep-sea diving sessions. In 2016, the Coboat will sail the warm waters of Southeast Asia between Singapore and Indonesia.
– Outsite, in California, organizes retreats in a remote chalet in the mountains overlooking Lake Tahoe or near the beaches of Santa Cruz. Google and LinkedIn are among the companies that send their teams to the great outdoors for work and play. Meetings alternate with half days of skiing, surfing or hiking. Tailored to the needs of each company, the programme is designed to stimulate teams’ and employees’ creativity and involvement in a setting close to nature that offers a complete change of scene.
– Nomad House, a company based in Montreal, also organizes work retreats for creative entrepreneurs that are conducive to interaction. After Lisbon and Berlin, the latest retreat was held in Thailand. Attendees spent ten days with full board in a traditional Thai house, equipped naturally with a good internet connection, a short distance from rice paddies and near the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. Like Airbnb, Nomad House also rents out flats in Spain, Italy and France. The Startup Retreats website also lists different places where such retreats are held.
– But one need not go to the ends of the earth, in Levallois Perret, just outside of Paris, is a venue halfway between theatre and contemporary art museum, which the Zalthabar agency has completely reconfigured to accommodate corporate events. This 1750-sqm château is the former residence of the art collector and philanthropist Sir Richard Wallace. Each of its 12 rooms has a different stage setting with decors based on childhood dreams, all designed to stimulate creativity. Participants can also enjoy the large garden of this immense property that temporarily hosts creative teams and evolving startups.
– It was the desire to extend the startup retreat experience that motivated 27-year-old engineer Aaron Perlmutter to launch the project Finding Aldea. The goal is somewhat crazy: buy up an abandoned village in Spain and repopulate it with 150 entrepreneurs, artists and scientists. The idea is to build a creative community in neglected rural areas where property is affordable for young urban workers and the setting is exotic. Since the release of a video explaining the project in late January 2015, Perlmutter says he has received over 300 applications, and two municipalities have expressed interest in accommodating them near Almeria and de Murcia.
By Usbek & Rica