The Collective

Europe’s First Tech-free Retreat

The Collective was born from a shared desire to provide mentoring assistance for entrepreneurs, innovators, freelancers, creatives and start-ups. Spanning over four days in the forested hills of Collserola, Barcelona, The Collective will encourage attendees to harness their creative potential by attending four jam-packed days of inspiring talks by industry professionals.


Over the past year, co-working spaces have proliferated throughout Ireland facilitating shared and supportive working environments for innovators and entrepreneurs. Gone are the days of solitary working confinement – as many startups thrive in communal spaces that are conducive to co-creation and professional support and advocacy. The Collective is designed to foster a budding network of creative professionals by providing an escape that will enable attendees to collaborate and restore.

Co-founder of the Collective Anique Coffee said that inspiration was drawn from attending The Unique Camp in Big Bear, California. A four day retreat that was “life changing” equipping guests with professional learnings and mentorship that lasted far beyond the event. Anique felt that now would be the perfect time to introduce a retreat of this type to a European audience.


As every young business is none too aware of, learning to unwind and switch off can become an unrequited luxury. The founders of The Collective have combatted the hum of technical interruptions by providing respite from smartphones and devices, with the introduction of Europe’s first tech-free creative retreat.

Sure, you can have deep, real conversation with people utilising technology, but it’s not real, human connection.

Anique, expresses “How many times did you almost or actually bump into someone in the street this week who was on their phone? Or maybe you were on yours? It happens almost every day to me. It’s the world we live in, where being virtually connected rules all. But how authentic is that connection? Sure, you can have deep, real conversation with people utilising technology, but it’s not real, human connection.”

Technology has altered the way we act, the way we think and of course the way we work. We are no longer tied down by distance and time, as meetings can now take place remotely via Skype or email. It has escalated further than we ever imagined, but can the positive aspects be outweighed by the negatives? The term FOLO “Fear of Living Offline” was coined by Sparks & Honey in 2016, suggesting the dread of “Nomophobia” (fears of our phone battery dying) or even worse, our devices being committed to inevitable obsolescence.

The founders of The Collective are challenging our dependence on technology by making sessions and workshops more “hands on”. Speakers will be equipped with goal workbooks, handouts and group sessions and attendees will be asked to hand over their devices for the full duration of the retreat.

Attendees will take their last selfie and turn in their phones to enjoy a weekend without technology, allowing them to disconnect in order to reconnect with themselves, each other, and nature. All this in an environment where community rules over competition and inspiration is abundant.

Guests will be encouraged to interact with the luscious landscape surrounding their Eco friendly lodgement with the option of engaging in scenic hikes, outdoor swims in the pool on-site (it is sunny Spain after all!) and restorative yoga and meditation each morning. Guests will be invited to actively participate in screen printing with Gillian Henderson of OhMyDays, woodwork and jewellery design with Lindsay Zuelich and candle making classes with Earl of East London.

The daily schedule is live on The Collective’s website with a series of activities and session blocks presenting speakers from diverse backgrounds, industries and professions who share their ethos of “community over competition”. The founders strategically curated speakers so as to provide attendees with a well-rounded roster of talks.

“The idea is that attendees can get a bit of everything; from business and legal advice from the Legal Counsel for NIKE Europe about how to structure companies in a way that protects the company and staff, to Matthew Manos, the founder of a socially-conscious, Silicon Valley design agency, verynice. Who can not only share stories about the startup life, but also share his model on how to give away half of your work for free to support non-profits and more”.


The team behind The Collective chose Barcelona as their destination of choice for its cornucopia of cultural offerings from great food, incredible weather and its position as one of the Top 5 Ecosystems in Europe. Anique loves the Spanish capital as it boasts the best creativity, art and innovation with a multicultural community and the weather that is at its prime in October. The founders wanted to choose a space that allowed guests to soak up the sun and enjoy the natural surroundings.

Anique’s focus for the event “is that attendees of The Collective will, through these shared experiences, find inspiration, learn tangible and easy skills to improve their businesses, the determination to succeed, and the community they crave for support.” The organisers hope that attendees will leave feeling refreshed, inspired and reconnected to nature and each other.


The Collective will take place in the Inout Hostel in the forested hills of Collserola, running from the 5-8 of October 2017. Early bird tickets are currently on sale at €1000, which covers accommodation, meals, refreshments the full timetable of talks, workshops and events.

What’s more, The Collective have offered Above the Fold readers a further 10% discount on early bird tickets, with the discount code ATF2017. See what’s in store for The Collective on Facebook and Instagram.


Article by Jane Gleeson for The Collective.