JuntoIV began just over a month ago with Opening Night on January 20. It feels like we’ve known the new Apprentices for much longer, and yet a winter month in Chicago has never gone so fast.
With the start of a new cohort comes many fun beginnings. Forums are formed and launched. Mentor Teams meet with their assigned companies for the first time. The Apprentice leaders and companies feel the excitement of having a trusted “village” of other entrepreneurs and leaders surrounding them.
Below are a few observations I’ve made with the kick-off of this fourth cohort.
1. THE MENTORS KNOW WHAT THEY’RE IN FOR
The majority of mentors are returning for their second, third or, in several cases, fourth years as a JuntoMentor. They arrived to Opening Night ready. The energy and enthusiasm that evening was off the charts. A large part was due to how excited the Mentors were to dive into their newly assigned companies and hear all they could about the founders and leaders of these fast-growing businesses. This year, the sense that they knew what was about to begin and couldn’t wait to get started was contagious. And this contagion was shared with our new Mentors. JuntoIV being our largest cohort yet, many new JuntoMentors have been assigned to the companies. And their enthusiasm mirrors that of their returning peers. The JuntoMentors have always been “all in”. This year, their knowledge of what to expect and anticipation to start made JuntoIV’s first month a powerful one.
2. THE GREAT 8
This is the biggest cohort we’ve ever had. Eight companies taking the leap and admitting that they want and need to learn from seasoned entrepreneurs who have been there and done that. In addition to learning from Mentors and Instructors, they are learning from each other. Three new leadership forums have launched and two classes have taken place. The Apprentices are already making introductions for one another, inviting each other to join in at special events, inquiring about being customers for one another, and leaning on each other for shared experiences. With eight companies these connections and synergies increased, not incrementally, but exponentially. We can’t seem to keep up with the additional meetings and conversations happening and the productive outcomes already occurring.
The diversity of people and companies in this cohort is at a high. The JuntoIV companies range from two years old to ten-plus. The Apprentice founders and leaders range in age from their mid-twenties to their fifties. Three companies are led by female CEOs, and the majority of the companies have a female founder or key leader on the team. With Junto being reliant on shared experiences, this diversity adds richness and depth to the sharing and an abundance of new perspectives.
Overall we’re thrilled with this first month of JuntoIV. Grateful beyond words to the Mentors and Instructors who are showing the way to the Apprentices on this journey. And excited for the ups, downs, pivots and growth to be lived by all of us involved.
Thank you, JuntoIV, for being the reason we all get to take this journey with you. Cheers to what lies ahead!