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  • Northzone News
  • 08 November 2022
  • 6 min read
  • Words: Northzone

Focusing on human connections: Northzone’s 2022 Founder Gathering

What does supporting founders really mean in 2022? The startup world is defined by fast-paced pressure, intense workload, and macroeconomic uncertainty. We have to constantly ask ourselves, what do our founders truly need most today?  

At Northzone, when we invest in a company, we make a promise to enable the teams we believe in, do what they do best but we also commit to offer support and create new growth opportunities in any way we can. Our annual Founder’s Summit brings our portfolio founders together in a curated 24-hour gathering, designed to support connection, learning, and collaboration through a series of transformative sessions. This year, we invited our founders to join us in the autumnal, British countryside.


Strengthening & Releasing 



We started our first session with Dr. Adam Checkroud, co-founder of Spring Health highlighting the importance of mental health, especially as a founder. As Adam mentioned, there is no single tool that works for everyone but investing time and effort into finding what works for each individual can be hugely beneficial. 

With this framing, we then launched the retreat with Positive Psychologist and founder of the School of Positive Transformation, Dr Itai Ivtzan. Walking us through the newest concepts in leadership coaching, founders were encouraged to focus on harnessing their “super-strengths” such as awareness, courage, resilience and compassion. Dr. Itai also pulled out the role of “sub-personalities” and the different aspects that fuels our drive. The essence of this exercise is to understand how personality impacts the experience of being a founder as well as others’ experience of us. This ties into how we can use this to further grow into the leaders we want and need to become. 

Our next session was breathwork, a powerful well-being practice designed to reset, renew and reconnect. Taking an open mindset, we saw firsthand the various ways intense breathwork can affect people, physically and emotionally.


Learning & Discussing



The power of open conversation has proven time and time again to make room for connection, growth and inspiration. Especially in the ever-shifting world of work. Through a series of breakout sessions, founders were invited to explore the topics keeping them awake at night: ‘Hiring and managing a stellar leadership team’, ‘Navigating the current macroeconomic climate’; ‘Focusing on international expansion’; ‘Defining your company purpose and impact’; the list goes on. 

We believe in the founder setting the conversation, as the entrepreneurs and culture makers at the forefront of our companies. Organic, relevant discussions were essential, facilitated by senior company builders at companies including Spotify, N26, Personio, and For Chiefs.

For another layer of connection, the conversations continued into dinnertime and an evening of mulled wine to relax and enjoy. 


Experiencing & Reflecting



Founders are used to operating outside their comfort zones. Day Two saw us take this further with an early morning SAS inspired training session. Flaming arrow archery and axe throwing allowed our founders to stretch their sense of adventure outdoors, while forging deeper new connections. Be it reconnecting with their 13 year old self during teamed competitions or bug eating before lunch, founders drew on a new level of bravery together (dried tarantula, anyone?).

‘Unconference Reflections’ wrapped up the retreat. We came together in a safe and unbiased environment for our founders to feedback where we can do more to support them. It’s important for us to give them a chance to leave a review on a regular basis. As investors, it’s all too easy to get caught up in term sheets and returns. Fostering truly candid, trusting relationships with our founders goes deep into our DNA, so we wanted to ensure each founder contributed here, making for more transparency, more partnership. 


This year’s Founders Retreat was an intense 24 hours. We’re so grateful to everyone for the generous spirit and open minds they brought to the gathering and the opportunity to work and connect in person. We can’t wait to get everyone together again soon!