Home How To Find a Great Startup Mentor

How To Find a Great Startup Mentor

If you’re an early-stage entrepreneur and this is your first startup company, you are not alone. Thousands are toiling over code in the hopes that their product will gain users and revenue. The problem with being someone who can build a great product is that you might know more about your core technology then you do about the business of startups. In the past few weeks ReadWriteWeb has covered emerging tech hubs in Israel, Austin and Boulder and the common thread amongst them is that each community encourages mentorship. Today we’re looking at what you need to know to find a great mentor or coach.

Says Union Square Ventures VC Fred Wilson in a recent blog post, “The young entrepreneurs who are starting companies for the first time are best served by seeking out and getting experienced serial entrepreneurs as angel investors, board members, and mentors. We encourage all of the first time entrepreneurs we work with to do this.”

In a perfect world, launching a successful product would simply equate to building something phenomenal. But in reality, an isolated phenom can get buried beneath the noise of thousands of other startups. Wilson and a number of other investors ask first-time entrepreneurs to bring on trusted advisors in the hopes that newbies will broaden their social graph and avoid making the mistakes that others have already made. Below are some of the things you should consider before choosing a mentor.

Success: Just because someone speaks at conferences and has been in the industry for 10 years, does not mean they are qualified to be your mentor. Look at the individual’s past successes and find out exactly how they’ve contributed to them. Check with others to gauge this person’s visibility in the industry and determine whether or not that success is directly related to the type of business you want to build.

Connections: A good advisor/mentor will open doors in the places you need doors opened. If you’re a music content provider and you need help with licensing, find someone who knows the legal and business development side of major labels. If your revenue model is based on advertising, find someone who can help broker deals with ad networks and agencies. If you’re building your business on a 3rd party platform, get an advisor with friends on the inside.

Personality: Determine whether or not your potential advisor is famous or infamous. Sites like The Funded allow entrepreneurs to share their good and bad experiences of investment groups and individuals. While these reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, you want a mentor that is present to answer your questions, engaged enough to offer suggestions, patient enough to explain some of the basic tenets of startup life, and finally, mature enough to have their suggestions occasionally rejected.

Let us know how you chose your mentor/advisor in the comments below.

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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