Entrepreneurial Ecosystems / Kumaon Retreat - Apply

 Apply To Attend Retreat

We all have passion projects that have the potential to become our main focus and source of income. 

Whilst it has never been easier to start a company, build a product or offer a service, seemingly innocuous decisions of what we commit to early on will have an impact and create tensions that resonate for years, destroying the very thing that we seek to nurture.

The Entrepreneurial Ecosystems / Kumaon retreat will take a measured, bs-free approach to sharing Studio D and the group’s successes and failures, lessons learned and principles of operation that guide what we decide to take on and why. From building a brand, to structuring the company, finding the right balance between profit generating and side projects, all with a view to long-term sustainability.

The content will be provided by Studio D, drawing on lessons learned from building a robust ecosystem, along with sessions from attendees, via curated submissions. Each of the sessions will include facilitated discussions to draw on and capture the wisdom of the group.

Mornings are focused and interactive, afternoons include immersive activities around Kuomaon that make the most of the surrounding nature. We recognise that learning comes from having the space to engage with likeminds at your own pace.

We've secured the full run of an elegant contemporary lodge with views of undulating forest covered hills and the Himalayas to provide an inspiring backdrop to the retreat.

Our aim is that a year from now you’re able to look back and see this as a catalyst for making the right decisions to build an emotionally rewarding and financially sustainable business ecosystem.

Our initial expression of interest received a strong response. We’ll start reaching out to applicants from March 1st as we curate the optimal mix of attendees.


22 - 25 September 2020 (three nights)


Attendees will learn how to:

  • Evaluate which passion projects are suitable to pursue as a business.
  • Draw up operating principles and values as a guide to decision making and staying true to yourself.
  • Evaluate financial viability through rapid business modelling, and learning how to refine models over time.
  • The pros and cons of bootstrapping versus taking on investors (family and friends, vc, angel or otherwise).
  • Defining your mission and attracting people to it.
  • Building a brand and developing communications strategy.
  • Essential tools and resources.
  • Deciding what kind of organisation you want to set up, and recognising the long term opportunities and consequences of the choices you make.
  • Building complementary and supportive networks and nurturing working relationships that stand the test of time.
  • Effectively manage time between revenue generation and exploring new things.
  • How to think about teams: full timers vs contractors vs collaborators, in-person vs remote, degrees of trust, reciprocal relationships that go beyond contracts.
  • Avoid committing to things that drain energy, time and emotion and consequently knowing when to move on.
  • How to achieve your goals with a smile on your face and a spring in your step 

You'll leave with a foundational understanding of what it takes to build a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, a renewed focus for your mission, and an understanding of what it takes to get there.


Space is limited to eighteen attendees and places are offered by application only.

We value applicants from diverse backgrounds, genders and ethnicities that have built or are looking to build a business or businesses that reflect their passion area.

Studio D Retreats attract people from diverse backgrounds and life stages. Past attendees have included designers, researchers, filmmakers, strategists, founders, VCs, and security specialists, from independents to those working for some of the world's most interesting organisations. All have an international mindset and many are looking to broaden their network of likeminds, skillset and world view.

We also offer a scholarship for a local Indian attendee. Suitable candidates can apply here.



We have the exclusive use of a contemporary lodge situated in the undulating hills of Kumaon Division, Uttarakhand, India, surrounded by forests and overlooking the Great Himalayan Range, and beyond that Tibet.

Aside from shared spaces, attendees will be spread across ten suites with traditional wood-burning bukharis and ample lounging area.


Non-stop trains are available from New Delhi to Kathgodam Station (which is 90km from the lodge). The nearest airport is Pantnagar (125km from the lodge). If you are feeling adventurous you can drive from Delhi (375 km). 

Detailed instructions on how to get there will be shared with attendees after booking.


$3,350 USD including:

  • Informing and inspiring talks and walks
  • Three nights accommodation
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinners

Excludes: flights, travel to/from venue, alcohol, visa, insurance, optional activities. 


We’ll operate popup studio style accommodation, including taking turns to cook breakfast and generally look after ourselves (guesthouse staff will also be on hand). 

Attendees will share gender split suites with separate beds. We have full run of the lodge, so if you want more privacy take your mattress out on the deck and enjoy a night under the stars.

Sessions will be in English. For newcomers to India, we’ll provide ample instructions on how to get there.

There is a spa on site, for those that wish to treat themselves (while this is excluded from the ticket price, we’ve pre-negotiated a good rate).

Free time can be spent with good food and conversation, wandering the nearby forests, enjoying the view or simply relaxing in the lodge.

For those that wish to extend their trip—we can activate an optional post-retreat trek if enough attendees are interested. This would be pay-as-you and self-organised through the group.

Dinners will be a mix of Kumaoni and international cuisine, made with seasonal produce procured from village farms nearby and foraged from the nearby forests. Lunches will be ordered in or we'll head to nearby restaurants. We can accommodate most dietary requirements if you let us know well in advance.

Our cancellation policy can be found here.

Reach out if you have any questions.


The event is led by Jan Chipchase founder, Studio D, SDR Traveller, expedition leader and the author of numerous publications including The Field Study Handbook, and draws on his unlikely path to becoming an entrepreneur.

Through Studio D, Jan provides research, design and strategy services to clients with a global remit. The studio relies on an extensive ecosystem of trusted clients, collaborators and contractors.

We hope to see you at Entrepreneurial Ecosystems / Kumaon.



Terms & Conditions | Cancellation Policy