Deceler8 - There were incubators and accelerators, and here comes the de-accelerator

Chandan Raj
31st Jul 2014
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It is not every day that you catch the attention of Brad Feld unless you are doing something right or very interesting! That’s what decelerator Deceler8.me is doing.

It is easy to lose focus on what we are doing when we are constantly working with our head down in building and scaling our startup -- sometimes we lose the grip on what is absolutely required v/s what is just good to have. This happens a lot to entrepreneurs, innovators and changemakers as they are always chasing new ideas, strategies, leads, customers - some of them will be quick successes, some take time, while some are just like running into a wall, but we never give-up.


In these situations the best and the fastest way forward may be to slow down and focus!

Deceler8 is here to help you with that. We all know about many accelerators from the famous Y-combinator and TechStars to our very own The Morpehus, Kyron and others. Deceler8 just does the opposite of what they do.

Instead of taking you through a fast paced program that teaches you hustling and lean startup methodologies to grow and scale your startup, Deceler8 is literally a de-accelerator - a peer-driven program to help fast-paced entrepreneurs refocus their energy. You could call it a mini-sabbatical to recharge and realign yourself with like-minded people.

We got in touch with Michel Bachmann the founder and curator of Deceler8 to know more about the program.

Tell us about Deceler8.me and why did you start this program?

I always tell people that I’m the first client for this program. When I co-founded Impact HUB Zürich, I was leading the global network in parallel and doing a PhD on the side. It all became too much and I realized I had to focus my energy. I needed a decelerator, not an accelerator. When I talked about this to my entrepreneurial peers, they all felt the same. So I started exploring what a decelerator might look like.

How do you think deceleration can help?

This is the paradox: slowing down will actually help you go faster. As we take the time to review what’s really important – both professionally and personally – we are better able to say no and stay focused on the things that truly matter. It’s like a Shaolin master who can break through a pile of bricks with a single blow. It’s all about focus.

How have people reacted hearing to this slowing down concept?

Most people love the idea. It offers a timely value proposition as more and more people are struggling to stay focused in this age of mass distraction. This is especially true for entrepreneurs who have a tendency to run after every new opportunity. Often, we get the response: “I’d love to join if I weren’t so busy” – which is a little ironic of course. There’s a fitting quote from a Zen master: “Meditate 20 minutes every day. If you’re too busy, meditate for one hour.”

Tell us more about the upcoming program and who should ideally attend?

The program takes place on Oct 12-24th in magical Bali. We start with a peer-driven retreat to help people refocus their energy. No internet allowed. But lots of space for deep thinking and authentic conversations with like-minded entrepreneurs. My partner Grace Clapham and I will facilitate the learning flow. We also practice meditation and Qi Gong to get out of our minds and into our bodies.

Michel Bachmann - Grace Clapham - deceler8
At the end of the retreat, everyone selects a peer to act as a wingman for three months to keep each other accountable on the things they want to focus on. We then offer an optional week of mindful co-working at Hubud, Bali’s most vibrant co-working space, located in a beautiful setting next to a rice paddy. The idea is to give people a space to prototype new ideas as they transition back to reality. There is internet and they can work again but we’re still together in Bali and will meet for morning Yoga and dinner at a special location every night. When everyone returns home, we’ll stay connected as a peer group via Facebook and a monthly check-in to help each other stay focused. And then we plan a yearly reunion for the various cohorts that have joined the program.

Who should ideally consider to attend the program?

We’re looking for 12 exceptional entrepreneurs from all over the world. People with a proven track record and clear need to refocus their energy. Maybe they’re in a transition, are running too many projects in parallel or simply need an entrepreneurial time-out to rethink the bigger picture. Expected average age is 35 but we’re open for high-performing innovators from any age and background – whether they’re a hard-core startup girl, maverick intrapreneur or even social movement builder.

How successful has the previous program been?

For the pilot last year, we selected 12 entrepreneurs out of 50+ applications. Participants came from places as diverse as India, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Australia and the US. It was amazing how everyone brought in their experience and special talents as we prototyped this concept together. In terms of concrete impact, one started meditating on a daily basis after 20 years of trying to do so, two started collaborating on a new project and there was a romantic couple of course. Many said that it changed the trajectory of their work and how they live in general. Some of us are meeting again for a reunion at this year’s Burning Man. We became quite close as we went through this deep process together.


What can one look forward to in the upcoming program?

We’ve already confirmed a number of really interesting participants from China, Belgium and the US for this year’s batch. So we expect another amazing cohort to come together. We also changed venue and will spend the first week at a truly magical location in the quiet north of Bali. But the most important thing to look forward to is to enter a space where you can disconnect from all the noise and reconnect to what’s truly important. Together with people just like you.

For more details check-out here. Applicants before July 31st get a 15% early bird discount, so apply today if you’re interested in participating!

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