Groundswell Interview Series: Where Ideas Become Reality

In our final interview with Gilad Babchuk, co-founder of Vancouver's only alternative business school for social entrepreneurs, we learn how Groundswell's 5-month BUILD program transforms students into resourceful, confident, solutions-oriented small business owners. 

Tell Me About Groundswell’s Build Program

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Gilad: The Build program at Groundswell is a very practical program where you BUILD your business 5 months. Think of a garage. There’s a machine inside of it that can be any kind of vehicle you want it to be. It can be a car, a motorcycle, a helicopter. Whatever you want -- and we build it up with you. We give you the knowledge, skills, and access to mentors and resources you need to make that happen.

We are very practical and hands on here. We take each person through a step-by-step process of establishing what you need to build your machine -- your business -- and how we’re going to make that business work for YOU and for the MARKET.

This is where big and small ideas become reality. It’s not about the biggest idea or the biggest business. It’s about appreciating the person, acknowledging how far they’ve come, and being proud of what they’ve built. This is what separates people who dream from those who take action. In this way, we incubate the person and not just the idea. We want people to know that you are not separate from your idea. It’s a roller coaster building a business so we support you and incubate you from start to finish. Whether it’s personal development and clarity of concept or hard skills like budgeting and financing, Groundswell has got your back.

Another great thing about the Build program is that you get to build your business with your peers. They’re in the trenches with you building their own businesses too. They get it. They know it’s hard, they know it’s exciting, they just know what you’re going through.

Groundswell is such a safe environment to screw up, adjust, improve, and excel. And, through all those ups and downs, you’ll get a kind of mentorship and peer skill sharing that you can’t get anywhere else. That’s what makes Groundswell so different from other incubators and small business programs.

What Can People Expect Upon Completion Of Groundswell’s 5 Month Build Program?

Gilad: Graduates that come out of Groundswell’s Build program have everything they need to create a business. In fact, some of them will launch their business before the program ends. They will essentially have a small scale version of their business ready to go. We like to call it the MVP version, which is the minimum viable product. You get to test out your business before the program is complete to make sure your business is not only aligned with your values, but that what you’re putting out there is in demand.

People coming out of the Build program feel amazing and excited. They know they’ve accomplished something huge, and their dream can now become a reality. And, yes, some of them feel scared because they’ve got to take that leap into having everything they’ve ever wanted and it’s beautiful and terrifying all at once.

Whenever you do big things in life, there’s going to be fear. You’ve never done this before so, of course, you’re going to be scared. But, our graduates know that they don’t have to face the unknowns alone. They know the whole team at Groundswell has their back. They come out of our program proud of themselves, they feel acknowledged, they feel like the best version of themselves.

It’s also important to recognize that graduates of Groundswell’s Build program are now problem solvers. Their offer is clear, they have a vision for where they want to go, and they know what it’s going to take to get to the finish line.

At its core, our Build graduates experience a huge shift in their identity because they now get to acknowledge themselves as leaders. They are now solutions-oriented individuals who can contribute to their community. Our grads no longer view themselves as part of the problem. They are now part of the solution and that is powerful. This is the essence of being a social entrepreneur and this is at the heart of what we do at Groundswell. This is how change gains momentum. This is how transformation happens. And, that’s what we do in Groundswell’s Build Program.