Expert advice and resources for startup founders looking to work with a mentor.
Be transparent with your mentor
A mentor needs to know that the founder is interested and open, says Kerry Ritz, entrepreneur-in-residence at Rise London. If you're dogmatic about your ideas, no mentor is going to want to work with you. And if you have all the answers, why bother working with a mentor?
Pay it forward
Without mentorship, Muhammad Altalib says his startup might have run into trouble. Years later, he is convinced that all startup founders should share their experience with those just breaking into the community. “One day I’m the mentee, the next I’m the mentor,” he says—and that gets to the very heart of the startup ecosystem.
Ask your local Eagle Lab to match you with a mentor
Eagle Labs works with CodeBase and the Cambridge Judge Business School to provide free, expert mentoring to its members. There are also regular programmes that involve specialist mentoring around key topics such as funding.
Look for mentors everywhere
Founders should keep an open mind and seek help and advice wherever possible. Identify who you need to help you and get to know them – you’ll be amazed at how generous those who have built their own startups will be.
Develop your confidence
Mentors can help founders have the confidence to realise how much they already know—the key is to go in with an open attitude, says Ilana Fass, FinTech platform lead at Rise New York. So, whether you’re being mentored or not, take the time to learn your strengths and weaknesses. You’re likely a lot more competent than you think.
Use a mentor to keep yourself on track
A mentor can help you stay focused on your priorities and deliver on the goals you have set yourself. That’s the advice of Danae Shell, founder and CEO of Valla and a mentor with CodeBase.
Find a mentor that’s right for you
There are lots of places to find mentoring, from Eagle Labs’ own mentoring programmes to informal online forums and government-backed listings.
Don’t try to do it on your own
All your business heroes had mentors – and so should you. That’s the view of CodeBase’s Chief Strategy Officer, Steven Drost, who joined a panel of mentors and mentees to share their experience and insights on finding and working with a mentor.
Keep a list of questions for your mentor
Jot down anything you might want to ask your mentor as soon as it occurs to you. You can then run through the list at your next catch-up, safe in the knowledge that you won’t have overlooked something important. And if you’re a technical founder consider finding a technical mentor to challenge your approaches.
There’s more information on the Eagle Labs mentoring and coaching page.