Everyone needs mentors. But as a startup CTO, it can be hard to find other qualified entrepreneurs who have faced similar challenges. To find out where startup CTOs can go to find this much needed advice, I polled a group of entrepreneurs from YEC to hear their suggestions.
Past Employers and Vendors
As a startup CTO, I find mentorship through my counterparts at past employers and vendors we use. Oftentimes, these can be transient types of mentorship. But with some reciprocation—they’ll usually want advice, too—they can turn into regular relationships, especially if you’re currently doing business with a vendor.
I find that these types of conversations turn out to be the best types of mentorship, as they already know what’s going on in your head through knowing you from a past gig or already know part of what’s going on in your business by being a vendor. Having conversations with these types of people can also have fringe benefits; past employers send you opportunities while vendors give you a heads up on new happenings and breaks on fees if things are tight.
CTOs of Larger Companies
A startup CTO should look to build relationships with CTOs who have worked in that role in a larger business, as well as those who currently serve in that role somewhere. Most of the time they will be more than willing to jump on a call or grab coffee with you. These individuals have a wealth of knowledge, can help you understand how the industry has changed and can offer you more connections and advisers.
—Jason Grill, JGrill Media | Sock 101
Today’s interconnected world offers amazing resources, such as Clarity or Google Hangouts, where young CTOs can find mentorship from those who have already become successful. Personally, I found mentorship early on in my career by reaching out over nontraditional channels such as Internet Relay Chat to find like-minded professionals who helped me solve challenges in my business endeavors.
Business Incubators or Accelerator Programs
Startup CTOs can typically find mentorship through a local business incubator or accelerator program. Get a list of potential mentors from the program’s website and reach out to them via LinkedIn.
—Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
A lot of startup CTOs and engineers head to meetup groups, especially for their specific technology languages, to find mentors and like-minded developers. People who participate in meetups usually do so because they are genuinely interested in the subjects, which makes it easier to find a passionate mentor.
Meetups also provide a more relaxed environment for networking compared to formal business meetings, so it’s a lot easier to make connections that are genuine as well as skills specific.
It’s great to get together with like minds who share similar problems and experiences that you do. Go to meetup.com or look for local groups on LinkedIn for CTO meetups. Go to the next event, bring stories and ideas that you would like to discuss—they will as well.
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