FAQ – Athena

1. What is Athena?

Athena is an 8-week life and entrepreneurship program designed to provide you with the resources, experiences, relationships, and mindsets necessary to begin your personal journey towards more self-reliance in an uncertain world. The program features intense discussion, challenging group activities on and off the campus, and a lot of learning from successful women.

Visit the ATHENA Boot Camp Page for more context.

2. Why a program for women?

Exosphere is a learning and problem-solving community and it is our mission to solve problems in the world. A big problem that we see is the unnecessarily pronounced gender imbalance in entrepreneurship and technology which we have observed both in our own community and generally in the world. Athena is our first step towards solving this problem. We believe that this program will afford ambitious women a unique opportunity to come together in a welcoming place, work and learn from each other, be inspired by successful international women visitors, communicate their own ideas, expand their influence and validate their unique point of view.

Gem Urdaneta, staff member of Athena writes her own answer:

Once you start to research, you find so many good examples of women’s active roles in many spheres online: creating, selling, and forming networks. But why is it hard to quickly recall names of women innovators or women-led companies? Women are just as engaged both in business and the online commons, but much less visible.

We’ll leave it to the political pundits and social scientists to endlessly debate why and assign blame. We, however, are focused on what we can do today to address this problem.

As a learning and problem-solving community, Exosphere is focused on solving problems in the world, one of which is the gender imbalance in entrepreneurship and technology.

We’ll be honest. In our own community (and throughout all of our past programs), we had way more men than women applying and joining us. We crafted our message in a way we believed was welcoming to all: young, old, male, female, nondiscriminatory in educational status. We welcome everybody with an open mind and a desire to learn. And yet few women chose to join us. Perhaps they felt our boot camp would be yet another bro-culture dominated tech workshop so typical nowadays. Perhaps they felt their voices would be ignored in what they guessed would be a male-centric environment.

Our goal with Athena is not to create a segregated arena especially for women to shield them from male competition. You would notice the rest of the answers to the FAQ here are similar to the FAQ of our “regular” Hydra boot camp series. This is because Athena is just as rigorous and challenging as the Hydra bootcamp. The only difference is we are inviting all-women visitors and participants to this because we simply want more women joining our community. It is our hope that this will lead to a virtuous cycle of creating more visibility for women entrepreneurs and tech innovators.

Perhaps our marker for success will be that in a year or two we will no longer need an Athena IV or V. Perhaps by then just as many women as men will join our community without hesitating to think about whether they would “fit in” or be heard.

But until then, this is our first salvo in the battle to get more women seen and heard amidst all the noise of modern entrepreneurship.”

3. What will I learn?

Session topics will range from self-reliance, discipline, and community to cash flow, coding, and leadership. Activities will include the coding challenge, design trials, presentation skills and market research on the street. What you will learn, however, is up to you. No amount of effort on our part can do the work that needs to be done for you. We can present you all the information, inform you of the options available, help you formulate ideas, challenge you to grow – but you have to actually go and do what brings you closer to reaching your goals.

For details of the weekly schedule, take a look at our Program Guide (PDF).

4. What is your promise for the program?

We don’t believe in promising what is beyond our control. You are the the woman in charge of forging your path to success in life. That is why we DO NOT make the following claims:

  • “Come to our program and you will have a successful business making you a sizeable passive income”
  • “Your troubles end and you will lead a fulfilling life, if only you come to our seminars”
  • “We have the answer to all your questions about how to be successful and guarantee your success”
  • “We will do all the work for you”

What we would like you to do instead is making a commitment to the process for yourself. Past participants that have kept an open mind and were not afraid to try and fail were the most successful ones.
The boot camp is not a consumer product–we are not concerned about your comfort or short-term satisfaction, but rather about your long-term success. If we give you everything you want, we wouldn’t be doing you any favors. We would rather you endure effort for 8 weeks, while building foundational principles and discipline, than live in mediocrity for the rest of your life.

5. How much time does the program demand?

Sessions are from 8 AM to 6 PM, Mondays through Saturdays. That’s more than 400 hours of learning, working, and challenging yourself in our inclusive community of entrepreneurs, facilitators, visitors and participants. Though we highly recommend participating from beginning to end, you are responsible for your own time.

6. Are there special requirements to participate in the program?

No. You can be 18 or 75 years old, hold a Ph.D., be a house-wife, a construction worker, a dancer, a professional, or a recent high school graduate- all backgrounds are welcome and equally qualified to participate.

7. What are you looking for in the women you accept to the program?

The only thing we expect of our participants is a willingness to take action and commit to the process. Don’t bother with sending us your GED scores, we don’t care. This program is not designed to give you a pretty piece of paper you can show to your parents and hang on your wall.

8. Do I need to have a business idea in order to be admitted to the program?

No. The Athena series is designed to help you become more attuned to reality and figure out the steps necessary to go down the path of self-reliance. Whether you are an already accomplished business founder or a high school graduate just starting out – rethinking your approach to life and business is valuable no matter where you are in your life.

9. Do I have to build a startup while at the bootcamp?

No, you do not. This program is designed to give you the resources, connections, ideas, and mindsets necessary to build a life and career you deem desirable. We are not here to make you do anything but are offering you a program to orient yourself in a fast-paced world. We are not focused on making people build startups, though they do that anyway – whatever your current plans are, you will be able to evaluate them with a variety of viewpoints and methodologies and build up the technical and interpersonal skills necessary to build the startup of you.

10. Will I leave the boot camp as a millionaire with all of my problems solved?

No. We are not here to solve your problems for you. Indeed, promising that would make us charlatans who don’t deserve your money. What we will do, however, is help you figure out your individual situation at this point in your life and how you can build your path in a more antifragile way going forward. We will give you all of the necessary resources and put our network at your disposal. You will engage in activities that train you for doing business by… doing business. There are no arbitrary exams to ace. The only measure of success will be the concrete steps you take towards the life you want.

DO NOT APPLY if you expect us to do the work for you.

11. Why do I have to read a text like self-reliance?

You are at this point in your life because of a multitude of reasons, many of which probably have to do with caring too much about living up to the expectations of others, being afraid of failure and the disapproval associated with it, and not taking advantage of opportunities that could have put you in a better place. We will expose you to a variety of perspectives, old and new, to challenge your beliefs and help you draw a more accurate map of reality. With this map you can then go out and test it, ready to draw and redraw as new information becomes available.
The literature we require you to read presents the philosophies we think will give you a solid foundation to build on, adding and taking away as you acquire more experiences and lenses through which to view the world around you.

12. The price is a little bit high, ain’t it?

400 hours of challenging activities, open discussion, knowledge transfer, and intense learning in a supportive community of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and people looking to teach and learn with and from each other – all that in a span of eight weeks. Dividing the full tuition by that number gives you a cost of $ 12.75/h (and even lower with early bird prices). A full semester at a regular U.S. College would give you just over half of the learning time (240 hours), in double the amount of weeks, at an average price of $ 50/h. And there you are often enough just one among hundreds of students with no chance of consistent and interested individual attention from the staff. Plus, you gain life-time access to our network of entrepreneurs, businessmen, artists, academics, and other members that are actively looking out for opportunities to send your way.

You be the judge of the value we provide and whether it is worth the price.

13. Do you offer scholarships?

No. We do not offer scholarships. However, we would love to hear from you about your individual situation and help you figure out a way to get involved with the Exosphere Community.

14. Who is Exosphere? Why do you have so many different products?

Exosphere is a learning and problem-solving community that is building an institution to support people in lifelong learning, personal growth, and the application of their ideas and talents to solve the problems of the world. This effort takes many forms.

15. What are your plans for the future? What are you planning next?

Exosphere pursues its mission as an institution of learning, entrepreneurship, and spiritual growth that encourages the discipline and maturity of its members and helps them organize and govern themselves effectively to better solve problems in the world.
We are in the process of developing concrete plans to launch our own alternatives in primary, secondary, university, and adult education in the coming years to provide enhanced options to people for whom the traditional model and its objectives are poorly suited to their own needs and desires.