If you know us, it should come as no surprise that we did the whole "hosting a conference" thing a little bit differently than everyone else.
We firmly believe the value of conferences lie in the connections you make, not big star names in huge cold convention centers. Tyler put it best, "a KPI of Founder Summit: Everyone increases the number of contacts they can call in a rough moment/day."
So, we put everything we had into making sure we created the best environment for those chats to happen in CDMX — from venues and food, to panels and workshops.
We wanted to create a space focused on interaction and curated experiences, with plenty of flexibility and breathing room to meet, chat, and have fun with a great group of founders and builders.
We wanted it to feel like a well-done company retreat— but without PowerPoint presentations.
Often, companies in our community are solo founders or small teams so we need places, more than most, to be able to connect. We wanted to create a space for Calm Company Fund founders and mentors, alongside other like-minded founders building profitable, sustainable, calm, remote companies to meet, chat, recharge and leave with a ton of energy.
Honestly, why not? The food is amazing. It’s a high energy city with a vibrant tech/startup scene. The conference was centered around the lush, walkable restaurants and cafe-packed neighborhoods of Condesa, Roma, and Polanco. Mexico City offers really good value, so the venues were exceptional for the price and options for accommodation were excellent and affordable.
From morning runs to taco crawls, our days were jam packed. Here are a few highlights:
As the sun set, we kicked off Founder Summit 2021 at the Four Seasons Mexico City. As the food, cocktails, mocktails and agua frescas kept on coming, Tyler of Calm Company Fund welcomed everyone to the event:
"This event probably had the worst timing in conference history, March 2020, the week the world ended. So I'm so excited to see everyone made it out here. [...] The real crux of what we're trying to do here is connect with other humans."
Kevin of SureSwift Capital had some "ideas to keep in mind (not rules!)" for the event:
"If you're in a conversation with a few people, keep a little space in that circle so there's a natural space for someone to slide into that circle. And if you see someone who's not talking to somebody, invite them into that circle. Some people are not super comfortable just walking into a group of strangers. Make it easier. That's how we make friends and build relationships."
It was time to get everyone talking and Nick Gray was the man to break the ice! The chatter filled the room and by the end of the evening we couldn't get people to go to bed...definitely a success metric!
Over the very few days we had together, incredible discussions were sparked. Often started by a panel discussion and very quickly thrown out to the group for questions and learnings, conversations were able to get deep and relevant. We took these topics to lunch, on walks, to breakout spots, to Twitter...Watch this space for recaps coming soon!
Here are a few highlights:
Whether it’s tweeting, newsletters, IG stories or longform, writing is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get your ideas out in the world. Michele of Geocodio, Dru Riley of trends.vc and Tyler discussed writing for founders — its value, why to do it and how. As Tyler says, “writing well, to the public or internally to your team, is one of the most high leverage things a founder can do”.
Sahil Lavignia, founder of Gumroad, and Natalie Nagele co-founder of Wildbit, took to discussing the revolution of modern employment. We hashed out everything from 4-day work weeks and remote working, to automating onboarding and transparency.
Mindfulness, the importance of resilience, your role in supporting your team and burnout were all discussed as mental health took center stage across the Summit. Here's Jeremy Redleaf, founder of Caveday, leading a group of founders in a breathing exercise at Cafebrería (cafe/bookshop) El Péndulo in Roma Norte.
At the fantastic Broka Bistrot, We talked goal setting as a founder with advisor and coach David Sherry (pictured!) — what do you want your company's next quarter to look like? What about your own? We also delved into the value of a coach. "A coach is like a co-founder for hire… without any of the baggage."
At the beautiful Balmori Rooftop in Roma Norte we talked about life as a founder. We looked at what could sabotage you from making your company or project a success and how to deal with it. We also discussed the taboo topic of personal finance with Travis Woods of Maybe Finance. You may be running a company because you're passionate about the mission, but you need to eat and you want a certain lifestyle. What $ number gets you there?
Mexico City has so much to offer and being holed up in a conference center was just never going to be an option. Here's some of the stuff we got up to:
We wouldn't be doing Mexico City right without a taco crawl! We enlisted the help of the in the know team at The Curious Mexican to help us find the best tacos in town.
Creating safe spaces to have discussions pertinent to underrepresented groups building companies and the different challenges that come with that was important to us. We hosted a LatAm Founders Happy Hour and, across town, a Female Founders Happy Hour.
Founders Austin Senseman of Conserv, and Jeff Wraley of Groundwork, organized daily 7am runs — all very flat, 5km routes through Mexico City. With the city being 7,000+ feet though, it felt a little tougher for most!
Being so close to Día de Muertos, AKA day of the dead, we set about with the fantastic team from La Loba to making masks of Catrina- a symbol that has become synonymous with death in Mexico.
With the team from Jacobo y Maria Angeles we had some more Dia De Muertos themed activity. We painted Alebrijes — fantastical mythical animals often translated as spirit animals.
Of course, we had to do some Mezcal tasting. We had the best of the best coaches in the Carreño team — a sustainable mezcal company with deeply traditional Zapotecan roots and identity.
Next up, chocolate tasting! Sustainable, family grown cocoa from the South East of Mexico makes for incredibly delicious chocolate thanks to the team at La Rifa Chocolatería. Who knew cocoa beans were so good too?
There's no other way to describe the evening but magic. The venue was Prim — a 20th Century mansion in the middle of the city that was abandoned in the late 70s. In 2014, it was saved and restored. It's used for gallery events, dinners, weddings and, now, by Founder Summit for the closing party to end all closing parties.
We did our utter most to organize a Summit we'd want to attend and we achieved that — of course, with a ton of learnings on how to make the next one even better. But it's always great to you hear others felt the same way! Here's what people are saying:
Some thank yous to those who made the conference possible:
Founder Summit was the joint dream of Calm Company Fund and Sureswift Capital but we couldn't have done it without:
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