416 Applications were in and it was now time to dive in and select our top entrepreneurs. In a true fashion accelerator mindset, we organized a bootcamp session designed to test the entrepreneurs on their entrepreneurial skills and business acumen.
The bootcamp took place in Workshop 17, in Cape Town with its stunning views over the port. Through a meticulous grading system from multiple members of the review committee, we chose our top 20 entrepreneurs from Cape Town and they all embarked on this day battle of the fittest.
Stylish outfits, bright lipsticks and bespoke accessories, we knew we had amazing and unique talent before us. Although a tough and selective process was about to happen, the vibe was everything but competitive. Applicants were mingling and sharing their experience within the business of fashion. From tips about reliable suppliers to social media strategies! The perfect atmosphere to start our first bootcamp.
Our review committee for the day was strong and fit with experienced business minds: Kgotso Masekwameng from Standard Bank, Nadine Smith Clarke from Wesgro, Gregg Maragelis from Cape Town College of Fashion Design and The Fashion Institute of Garment Technology, Vincent Hoogduijn from Spree and Emilie Gambade from Marie Claire.
The applicants were about to get tested on business acumen and we couldn’t think of a better way than starting with a negotiation challenge? We all know how important negotiation is in entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur will often talk his way until both parties have the best possible deal or as Threads co-founder Desiree, put it “negotiating is the art of letting the other party have it your way”. See the nuance?
The contestants were then divided into two teams facing each other. On one side of the table, we had the buyers of a multi-brand store, on the other side the sellers of a fashion brand. Could you guess what their mission was? To agree on the price and quantity to be ordered for the next collection.
The tricky part though, is that both parties have a contradictory point system.
Watching the teams in action was more than thrilling! Balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We witnessed some tough sellers charmed by skilful buyers. Just as in business, this “game” had no winners or losers. Only more or less profit to be made!
The day went on with more challenges for our candidates like getting very creative in order to convince buyers to buy an odd product, like a pen or a sweaty t-shirt, pitching their business in 60 seconds and finally a one-to-one speed dating round with our review committee. More on these challenges in the following articles on our bootcamps.
All the entrepreneurs did a great job which made it very tough for our review committee to select Cape Town’s top 3. “We were overwhelmed by the amount of talent and motivation of each and single one of our participants which made it very hard to choose only three finalists for the Accelerator Program” says Tania, Threads co-founder.
But some of them managed to stand out from the crowd and impress us with their entrepreneurial skills, drive and undeniable passion for the fashion business. Although we could only choose three finalists, we know many of the candidates are onto something big and we’re excited to see more!
Here’s to Cape Town bootcamp candidates #RaisingTheStandards.