Mentors are of strategic importance to entrepreneurs. In accordance to the American Angel Investor Association, startups with mentor support are three times as likely to make it versus without a mentor. The most sought after mentor profile is an entrepreneur who has been in their situation and brought at least one company from zero to exit. A very different profile is interesting as well: subject matter experts, people with profound knowledge about the space the company the company is in. Consultants or enterprise managers are usually not so high on the hit list as many people think.
Good mentors make suggestions here and there. The best mentors never give advice. Instead they ask so many well articulated questions that the mentee comes up with the solution themself. Mentors may make connection to relevant people. The best mentors help the mentee to weave any connection they ever need themself. Mentors can help troubleshoot internal problems. The best mentors help the team solve the problem themselves.
Most investors or accelerators recommend teams to not hire mentors or consultants at the stage they are. Mentors who have been successful entrepreneurs however are very welcome. Those types of mentors are not looking for any payments but equity. To make sure that a mentor and company team work well and over a longer period of time, equity is usually given out in stages by so called vesting periods.
In today’s world equity, vested over 4 years range between 0.1% on the low side and 2% on the high side. Outlayer are 3% on the highside and free on the low side. Founders should definitely make an agreement with their mentors to simply agree on the deliverables. You can find samples in the WIF library.
Co-working spaces have become instrumental for startups on their path to the top. Having an inexpensive office location is only a side effect. Working together with a whole group of startups and entrepreneurs is actually priceless. Getting a sense for what others are working on is not just generally interesting, it is very important to understand where new technologies are actually going to. Predicting the future is much more plausible when looking at the early development. Other advantages of co-working spaces is that the top places are frequently visited by investors, and technology providers, organize lots of relevant events, foster relationships among entrepreneurs and are easily a place to meet any type of customer.
Connecting with universities and for universities connecting with the innovation space has lots of advantages. It was never easier for universities to access the hottest innovation space than today. Whether its startup associations, co-working spaces or the World Innovations Forum, connections have reciprocal benefits. Startups get access to talents and universities can provide graduates with job opportunities. Startups can leverage universities for project collaboration and research and students get not only real live industry experience but actually work on bleeding edge solutions.
Technology & Service Providers
There are many technology providers addressing startups by helping them with free products including software and hardware. The advantage for the companies is to seed products and their brand very much like in universities. As startups grow, they may stay with the company if the offer is attractive enough. If not it is a very important learning for the company as most likely other young and upcoming companies won’t use their product either. An interesting opportunity for startups is to use it for possible collaborations at a later stage as they mature. In some cases those companies may even want to invest in the startup they already support with free products. With all the positive aspects, entrepreneurs need to be advised that there is also a very slight risk that one of those companies – primarily the very small ones may just seek new technologies for their on.