Mentoring  Startup

Mentoring Startup- A game changer

 Mentoring startup has become a part of entrepreneurial eco system. The breadth and depth of mentoring varies depending on the startup.

A start up from scratch is tough.  Seventy percent of startups are by a single individual or a team of 2-3 members. They are passionate about their idea and believe that their product or service is a game changer.

Organizations have also realized the importance of mentors or coaches for developing leadership pipeline. They can afford to allocate money to have a formal setup.

 However, startup entrepreneurs when they dive deep into the world of entrepreneurship face situations where they are stuck. They need someone to support them or a person whom they can turn to for advice.

“One of the smartest players you can find for your team as an entrepreneur is a mentor, coach or counselor.” - Eric T. Wagner

Mentoring Startup- Support Systems

i.  Academic Institutes

Many academic institutions promote entrepreneurship by having a formal e-cell with experienced mentors available at the campus. The scope of mentoring is to help the student to cross the threshold and become an employer instead of seeking employment. The level of risk involved is quite low.

ii. Mentoring-A  strategy for innovation by organizations

Google, Yahoo, Microsoft etc have formal mentors for translating the idea of an employee or anyone with an innovative idea. The selection process is quite rigorous.

iii.Non Profit Support

Incubation Centers with a pool of professional mentors are available.

 They are funded by socially conscious successful entrepreneurs or by the  government.

Richard Branson and  Ramesh Wadhwani  are well known examples who  have created an eco system.

iv. Pool of Mentors

 Freelance Mentors are available on individual basis and they are active in professional setup.

Professional Mentor training

The eco system provides formal training to mentors for mentoring entrepreneurs. Being understudy with a successful mentor is of immense help.

Approach to Mentoring

  1. Mentors may convert mentoring time spent into equity in the business.
  2. Mentoring should be for a specific period
  3. Can have multiple mentors preferably without overlapping areas

Qualities of Mentor

"Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction"- John C. Crosby

  1. Generally, mentors need not have   stake in the venture.
  2. Mentors can be successful entrepreneur or professional with experience
  3.  Must establish trust and credibility with mentees
  4.  Mentors should not impose their solutions but facilitate the Mentees to discover on their own.

Qualities of entrepreneurs (mentees)

  1. Initiate the mentoring request
  2. Willingness to be tranparent
  3. Accept the advise
  4. Implement the agreed plan
  5. Share Feedback

 My  moments of truth from mentoring

1. Mentoring was one of the critical success factor in the 10000 women entrepreneurs development program ( supported by Babson College research report)

2.A single query from the mentor ‘Who is your paying customer,’  resulted in change of their business model from B-C  to B-B.

3.Identified and mentored students with entrepreneurship potential. (Over a seven-year period 25 + became entrepreneurs.)


  1. Mentoring has improved the success rate of startups
  2. Formal mentoring support system is available
  3. Trust between mentor- mentee critical 
  4. Angels and venture capitalist provide strong mentoring

“The magnitude of difference between the performance of companies with successful mentors and companies that lack them suggests that the value of effective mentors for startups may be especially high”. (tech