Who are we?
Mentors help startups meet all sorts of challenges, but finding the right ones to help your startup can be hard. It is a lot easier to know how and whether we can help you, if you know who we are, what we can do, and why we do it.
Know how to profile your mentors
Identifying which we profile fit is powerful and can be very straightforward:
“Anne, an ex-McKinsey consultant and former startup CFO, recently was part of a profitable exit and is now an angel investor. She wants three things:
• to meet startups that match her investment profile,
• to network with experienced angels to learn and perhaps co-invest, and
• to give back to the ecosystem.
Anne is demanding, detail-oriented, asks tough questions, and is good at getting startups to understand what they need to do to attract investors.”
How do you get a mentor to help you?
What should you do if you want Anne to help you? Do you have anything to offer her in return? How do you get from not knowing Anne exists or what she can do to a position where you can meet her and convince her to invest time and effort in helping you?
Start by using archetypes to analyze the mentor
Here are eight basic archetypes, with very brief descriptions, to help you categorize mentors. We often fit into more than one category, because we’re human, and therefore complicated.
Entrepreneur – Often the most coveted, but can include out-sized egos and opinionated people whose ‘lessons learned’ are out of date.
Investor – Usually looking for interesting investment opportunities. Used to being flattered.
Service Provider – Lawyers, accountants, bankers, and IP specialists. Good ones tell you how to make things possible instead of telling you they can’t be done.
Startup Enthusiast – We often fit more than one archetype. We are often in it for personal reasons as well as business. Some mentors just love the industry.
Board Professional – Includes consultants and can bring lots of experience and big networks.
Academic – Often have interesting analysis and access to relevant resources.
Corporate – Increasingly active partners. Many are still learning to work with startups. Can bring big scale to sales and much else besides.
Ecosystem Professional – The ecosystem is developing and specializing quickly. The people who run co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators, et.al., often have very relevant networks.
How to reward your mentor
Anne, the mentor profiled above, is looking for introductions to interesting startups and other investors. You probably know people you can introduce. Your startup may be a match for her investing profile or you may know one that is. You may be working with other investors she would like to meet.
Give to get
Any one of these three things may be the hook that gets you talking. Your ability to give her something she wants may help you get her to stick around to help you get what you need.
Match us to the task
Chemistry plays just as big a part as qualifications in mentoring, just like is does in dating. We will go into greater depth on the different archetypes later. Much depends on the challenge, the situation, the circumstances, and the match. Knowing whom you’re talking to early on can give you a significant edge on achieving the outcome you desire.