Help your startups after graduation and give your most engaged mentors an opportunity to shine
All startup programs face a common challenge: how do you help your startups after graduation. One of the obvious tools is to leverage the strength of your mentor networks – and one way to do use the mentors is to have them recruit advisory boards for your teams.
Startup programs struggle to help their graduates
Once they’ve flown the nest, graduates are hard to help. They’re busy trying to grow. Neither party is great at keeping in touch and often both struggle to see the point. The clear win for the program is that they benefit when their graduates do well. The downside is cost. Graduates, meanwhile, struggle to see what programs can provide post-graduation or the potential return on investment in time spent.
Advisory boards recruited by mentors can help. They get much the same value out of contact with the startups after the program as they did during the program, plus more besides. The mentors see the post-graduation struggles and successes. They learn whether their advice works or not. They also get a better opportunity to build relationships with the startups that can lead to future roles.
Startup programs are short on tangible benefits for their mentors
This is a defined, tangible opportunity for the mentors beyond the opportunity to ‘meet and mentor startups’. Especially if given the opportunity to be a lead mentor and head the recruitment of the advisory board, this is a great chance to give them something they can measure and even put on their CV.
Startup programs often fail to understand the potential
Far too many programs either fail to see the point of mentors, insufficiently engage mentors, or simply have them because everyone else does. This is a way to engage them that has clearly defined benefits for all parties. The mentors can help drive program engagement post-graduation, help monitor the graduates’ progress, connect the startups with relevant contacts in the program’s network, and much more.
Use mentors to do what you can’t
Startup programs don’t ignore their graduates, they simply lack the resources to invest in helping them. Using mentors to do the task can be extremely cost effective. The investment is minimal and the potential upside is tremendous. One success can make or break most programs. Use your mentors to help you do what you can’t and help the mentors get more value out of your program as well.