There were so many wonderful conversations and moments at the retreat that reducing them to a top ten is a tall order, but I’ll do my best. Note that these are my top ten and if you ask any of the other 130 participants you’ll likely get a totally different ten—for example the swag didn’t even make my list.
10. The Journey from Geneva to Méribel
A winding, high-altitude coach ride with 60 or so other fintech entrepreneurs might not be everyone’s cup of tea, nor is a heated debate (with mathematical proof) on whether we are or aren’t living in a simulation—but for me, it was a great sign of the delights to come.
9. Blown Away on the First Day
Eating lunch by Lac de Tueda with the CEO of Stocktwits and chatting to one of the execs at Betterment made me realise this wasn’t going to be any ordinary conference. Companies, ideas, people and stories that I had either read or heard tales of were coming to life directly from the people who had lived them.
8. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
JP Rangaswami’s keynote had me thinking about education, infrastructure and the role that finance plays in solving some of the world’s greatest problems. The impact of technology and the challenges of turning what’s possible to what’s accepted left my mind racing.
7. Building Relationships
Sean Park kicked off the event by encouraging us to take the time to build relationships over the coming days. It certainly exceeded the professional richness I thought possible in such a short amount of time. Discussing life, religion and the political landscape with people I genuinely would like to spend a lot more time with felt like a great gift.
The conversations and debate around ownership and insurance with executives and founders from companies like Trov, Unmortgage and Betterment proved intense. Sharing thoughts on AI and machine learning, customer acquisition, talent and the evolution of the workforce will reshape the way I look at companies and opportunities for years to come. And we didn’t take ourselves too seriously, with shout-outs to our cultural obsession with technology trends (*cough Blockchain *cough).
The French definitely know their food, whether fondue, a spit-roast pig in the the middle of a forest or the fabulous restaurants where meals were shared, I don’t think I’ve been at a conference where I’ve eaten better. As much as I’ve tried to find any social media posts to illustrate this, I suspect we were all too busy eating!
Better than the Drake album of the same name, the alpine views around Méribel in the French Alps are simply breathtaking. Taking a moment between conversations to say “Hold on” whilst grabbing our mobiles and taking pictures was a common occurrence.
3. The Anthemis Portfolio CEOs
Listening to the CEOs we had invested in over the last decade filled me with a sense of pride. The diversity, not only of the founders and their stories, but of the problems being solved, the business models being developed and the innovation of the founders and their companies all around, was invigorating.
I don’t know if it’s the mountain air, the collective brilliance of the people this retreat attracts, or the French food—it’s likely a combination of all three, but the energy in Méribel was palpable. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so mentally, physically and emotionally drained over a four day period.
1. Knowing I’ll Get To Do This All Over Again!
This was the seventh annual retreat and so many people were veterans—some having been to all seven—and it was just incredible. Just a week after it’s ended I can’t wait for the next one!