There is a new wave of networking and community-building events taking place all around us of late. Events that focus on the overall experience and longer lasting benefits on our life.

The latest one to emerge is The Collective conference retreat. Until now we only heard about this style of retreat taking place in the USA. But now The Collective is the first of its kind in Europe – an all-inclusive, tech-free, retreat-style conference, where communities are forged and experiences created. The Founder, Anique Coffee, is no stranger to trying new things. In the first installment of this 2-part interview, we get to know her and hear what led her to leave the corporate world, moving continents and becoming an entrepreneur.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from and what you were up to prior to moving continents.

My name is Anique Coffee, Founder of The Collective Europe. I was born in the Marshall Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but grew up in the United States, in Florida. I lived in Florida most of my life, with short stints in Connecticut and Utah, before settling in San Francisco in 2012. For the past 5+ years, I was living in San Francisco, pursuing a career in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Ventures with tech startups in Silicon Valley. Now, I’m in Barcelona, solely focused on The Collective.

What important skills has your professional career in the US taught you about business? 

There are too many things to name that my working experience in the US has taught me about business. The two most valuable skills to me are the ability to multitask on large projects and the importance of questioning the way to do things in order to find a better way.

Multitasking is a hard skill to master, but it’s necessary in today’s world, especially since we are bombarded by push notifications from the millions of apps we have, emails, and more. More than that, it’s important to be available to many different teams (sales, product, operations, marketing) all at once, so switching between tasks quickly, seamlessly and efficiently is an important skill I learned while working in Silicon Valley.

Secondly, I was fortunate enough to have many great bosses and mentors in my professional life thus far. One specifically, Fred Love, always allowed our Marketing team to have room to wiggle and try new things – all while working towards being bulletproof. It’s okay to fail once, maybe twice, but not three times. Try new things and ask questions. Be different, disruptive and strategic – but be great at it.

Why do you have an interest in startups?

I love when people follow their passion and commit to their ideas, especially when their passion is coming up with a solution or solving a problem for others. I also love working for startups because early on, when the teams are still small, everyone wears a lot of hats and has wide roles, but each person makes a direct impact on the business. Everything you do is seen and fruitful in some way.

What are some of the common challenges that you have first-hand experienced and seen startups face and struggle with?

One of the common challenges is the balancing act between staffing and growth. I’ve experienced this first hand a few times over, and it is a problem that is very hard for companies and leaders to manage. You want to be a lean company, with lean budgets, to encourage rapid growth. This often means smaller teams at first, when SO MUCH of the work needs to get done to get the company out of stealth mode, or launched, or just through the early stages. But, you can always use more team members to execute the tasks at hand – always. People can easily get overworked and swallowed up by the fast-paced work environment. Even if you feel passionate about the brand or product you are building (and I hope you do – it would be hard to do this without the foundation of passion), it’s super important to maintain your work/life balance and remember that your health and sleep are more important than money, your product or how many hours you put in at the office this week.

What made you move to Spain, and why Barcelona of all places?

During my old life as a tech marketer, I travelled to Barcelona for the three consecutive years in October for a huge tech trade show called VMworld. I LOVED the city and always enjoyed my time here. Last October, I travelled to Europe on my first ever solo trip and stopped in Barcelona to visit some friends. This visit was different. I was at the height of my professional burnout and was extremely attracted to the slow-paced lifestyle. Who doesn’t want delicious coffee around every corner, Spanish wine, and siestas? But more than that, when you just scratch the surface, an entire world of creatives, entrepreneurs, and small businesses are exposed. The startup culture is still young here, and the entrepreneur mindset is still being fostered, but Barcelona is the perfect place for it. The weather is amazing and it attracts an incredible international community of people. What’s not to like?

What have you found most challenging in relocating?

The most challenging part of relocating is the residency process. Do. Not. Get. Me. Started. HA! It’s really tough, not well-documented, and frustrating. BUT – it is possible. I read heaps of blogs before my move about how to navigate this challenging aspect of moving country, and all the blogs started with “have patience.” It was the start of many articles, and eventually, I grew tired of all of these articles starting this way. But, it’s dead true. You just have to act, then wait. And talk about it with others. It helps. It takes the edge off when you know that almost EVERYONE is in the same, frustrating situation as you. The struggle is real, but you will persevere.

What is The Collective? How did it start? Take us through the journey of an idea to making it happen.

The Collective is a four-day, retreat-style networking conference where creatives, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and innovative professionals of all kinds come to learn how to take their brand or company to the next level.

The Collective is the first of its kind in Europe, unique and unlike any other professional conference or community you’ve been a part of before. We engage and empower professionals in an interactive environment through collaborative and hands-on sessions, where knowledge is shared and inspiration is abundant.

We aim to help attendees find their path and navigate their professional journey through unique seminars from experts in their field, hands-on creative workshops from artists and makers, and with innovative tools to bring professionals to the top of their professional game. Our members believe in community over competition and lean on each other to get better and grow their businesses.

Our inspiration also stems from a conference we attended a few years ago called The Unique Camp, which offered a similar experience rooted in connection to others, professional learnings, and a nature-based, tech-free weekend away. Attending this conference was life-changing, and we knew we had to create a similar experience for others in Europe and around the world, but this time – create a community that lasts far beyond the event. 

To learn more about The Collective, stay tuned for part 2 of the interview next week.

To book your ticket to the first Collective Europe conference, follow the link here. It takes place in Barcelona, 5th-8th October 2017.

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