Providing access to mentors is an essential part of what we do, says David Morris, Proposition Delivery Manager at Eagle Labs.
David explains why mentoring is so important and how Eagle Lab members can access mentoring and coaching for free.
How important is mentoring for startups?
I think it’s really important. It’s been said many times that almost every successful founder has a mentor or business coach by their side. Those mentoring or coaching relationships can be really different – but having someone that founders can turn to and who goes on the journey with them, that can be invaluable. That’s why we see it is an essential part of what we do at Eagle Labs.
How can Eagle Labs members access mentors and coaches?
A principle route is through the two organisations we partner with that work directly with founders. CodeBase is a startup incubator whose mentors have extensive knowledge of the tech world, from gaming to fintech and everything between. Cambridge Judge Business School has coaches who specialise in everything from marketing and finance to telecoms and Internet of Things.
How does mentoring work – and what does it cost?
There is no charge for mentoring provided to Eagle Lab members and it’s really easy to arrange. The first step is to speak to the Ecosystem Manager at your local Eagle Lab. They’ll share more information about the mentors and coaches available, including the businesses and sectors they have worked in, and the sort of startups they have helped. That information is on the Eagle Labs site as well. Founders can then think about who is the best fit for them and, once introductions are made, have a discussion with the mentor-to see if they’re on the same wavelength.
Are there any specialist mentoring programmes?
Absolutely. We offer a Funding Readiness Programme that we run with Capital Enterprise. As part of that, there is one-to-one mentoring about specific types of funding, such as grant funding or crowd funding. We’ve also got an Investor Readiness Programme that includes individual mentoring, maybe advising on pitch decks or attracting the right sort of investor. These could be more short-term relationships with really specific advice.
Are there other ways that founders can access mentors?
Each Eagle Lab has its own distinct startup ecosystem, offering support and advice for founders. The local Ecosystem Manager will be able to discuss individual needs and then introduce the founder to someone with relevant experience.
How has coronavirus changed things?
While mentors have been working remotely during lockdown, most were speaking with founders over the phone or video conferencing anyway as it gives both sides more flexibility. In normal circumstances it is good if both people can meet face-to-face at some point, but virtual meetings work really well in a lot of ways. And because of Covid, everyone has become a lot more comfortable doing that.
What’s the first step for an Eagle Lab member who is interested in finding a mentor?
Speak to your local Ecosystem Manager. They’ll be able to give you more detail about the schemes we run and tell you about the individual mentors and coaches available. I’d also encourage people to look out for the launch of the Eagle Labs platform, as there will be more mentoring available through that in the future.
Do you have a final message for anyone thinking of finding a mentor?
I’d just encourage Eagle Labs members to take advantage of the mentoring service that is on offer. We’ve helped around 150 people already and have never turned anyone away. It’s a free service and we want to help as many founders as possible.