Regular peer group sessions to help entrepreneurs form meaningful bonds
CGP2 companies at pre-IPO stage will now have to pay for coaching services
BASED on the experience with the first round of the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP), Proficeo Sdn Bhd, the programme manager, has divided the coaching plan for CGP2 into two six-month parts with continuous interactions between the companies and coaches.
CGP is a business coaching programme funded by the Ministry of Finance to the tune of RM5 million (US$1.6 million), It ran for a year from November 2011 to October last year, and was administered by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, the ministry’s agency that looks after entrepreneurs.
CGP2 will run on a slightly reduced budget of RM4 million (US$1.3 million).
While it was relatively easier to get into CGP1, the entrepreneurs there faced a pitching session after six months when they had to convince the coaches that they deserved to stay on.
But for the upcoming CGP2, which is open for registration, entrepreneurs will face a tougher time getting in, but once they make it, the pitch after six months would not involve such a nerve-wracking experience. Instead, it would involve the coaches segmenting the companies into two groups.
“They will be judged on their readiness,” says Renuka Sena (pic), Proficeo chief executive officer. “For instance, one group may need customised and intensive coaching to propel them forward; while another group may not be ready but we would still need to figure out their issues and create customised coaching that focuses on their problems.”
Another change is that while CGP1 also took in companies at the pre-IPO (initial public offering) stage, for CGP2, these companies will have to pay for the programme, which is otherwise free.
“We took in pre-IPO companies as a pilot to see if they would benefit from the programme, and they did. Having proven our value to them, anyone who wants to join CGP2 for the coaching services will have to pay,” says Renuka.
In the first six-month stage of CGP2, all the companies – whether they are early-stage startups, emerging or about to expand globally – will go through two core business modules. The first such module revolves around customer issues and business models; while the second revolves around financial issues.
The second six-month stage is when all the companies get down and dirty in execution, with their coaches ever ready to offer guidance and their own networks.
The depth that the participants go into in the first six months will depend on the stage the companies are at. To maximise the learning outcomes, companies will also be divided according to their ability.
For instance, in the module around customer issues, a company going global will learn about new markets while a company at the growth stage will learn about customer segments.
Yet another new concept being added for CGP2 is a regular peer group session. This is being introduced based on the realisation that as the base of entrepreneurs gets larger, it is harder for them to get to know each other well enough that a meaningful relationship is formed, and where each will go out of the way to help the other.
“This peer relationship is very important for entrepreneurs to have because this is a journey they are taking, and very few will understand what they are going through to be able to help in a meaningful manner,” says Renuka.
“And all of us coaches have noticed that the current group of entrepreneurs tend to operate in silos, which is not good,” she adds.
She recalls her own experience of being an entrepreneur from around 2000 and the bond she formed with her group of peers. “We do not constantly keep in touch, but I know I can pick up the phone and can get immediate help from them,” she says.
By making these peer group sessions a regular part of CGP2, the hope is that meaningful bonds will be formed over the one year of the programme. And, in turn, the foundation of the ecosystem gets more entrenched.
The success of CGP1 has fired up all the parties involved, with all coaches signing up again for CGP2. Some of the companies from CGP1 went on to raise funding successfully after the programme too, which Renuka feels is no coincidence.
It remains to be seen if the class of CGP2 can exceed the performance of the first batch.
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