7 things I look at when deciding which startups to mentor

And what should be your takeaways from it when you are asking someone to be your mentor.

A mentor just offers you a helping hand. He agrees to be a friend to your startup.

So, what makes me want to (or agree to) take on that position?

A mentor is a tool, not much different from the equipment you get from your local Walmart for your rock climbing expedition over the weekend. He certainly helps you out in your activity, makes it bit easier, and at times even show you a better way. But it would still always be YOU who is climbing the rocks.

#1. CAN I HELP?

#2. HOW MUCH CAN I HELP

#3. SHOULD I HELP

#4. HOW SERIOUS ARE THEY ABOUT THEIR WORK

#5. THE TRACTION AND THE KIND OF TRACTION THEY HAVE

  • Do they just have registered users or do they have transacting users
  • If they have transacting users — how frequent are the transactions, what is the average ticket size, what is the expected LTV, what is the CAC
  • If they don’t have transacting users, what kind of registered userbase do they have vis-a-vis the product they have
  • If they have built up a community, what kind of engagement are they seeing
  1. Shows propensity of transactions in future
  2. Displays the ability to connect with the targeted userbase; thereby displaying the acceptance of the proposed product amongst the target base

#6. THE THINGS THEY ARE DOING RIGHT, AND THE ONES THEY ARE DOING WRONG

#7. HOW AMBITIOUS THEY ARE, AND ALSO HOW MUCH OF A REALIST

So, what do you (as an entrepreneur) need to keep in mind, when you ask someone to come onboard as a mentor?

  1. If someone asks you for a piece of your company (or worse, money) at the very beginning of your conversation — run fast, and run far. Every week I connect at least 10 folks to each other because I feel that they may be able to help each other out. That’s not me helping anyone; that’s just the very first rule of networking. Being of help to others without any hidden agenda. Similarly, if all I am doing is giving you general ‘gyaan’ or worse, just nitpicking on any idea of yours — you will find such people everywhere. Why should you dole out even the tiniest bit of your company to them?
  2. Value their time. I can’t stress it enough — time is the most valuable commodity. So if you are reaching out to someone, value their time. Don’t be late to meetings, don’t miss deadlines etc. When you send them emails, be crisp and clear in your communication. Very simple, but very crucial rules. Also value yours. If you feel they are not valuing your time, cut them loose, and move on.
  3. Accept that you may need to offer them equity. Advice comes cheap; free actually. But if you want someone to be by your side every step of the way, you will need to compensate them for their time, effort and expertise in one way or another. It can either be cash or a small piece of your company — but there will need to be something. For example, if someone needs to pick my brains over a few meetings, that’s cool. But if a continued involvement is required, I do take equity in the company. There are no free lunches, always remember that.
  4. Research them well. There is no point in asking someone for help on something that is not at all related to them. For example, bitcoin and I — we just don’t go hand in hand. So if you call for a meeting, and then talk about a cryptocurrency, all you are going to get out of that meeting would be free beer.
  5. Be yourself. Anyone who is qualified enough to be a mentor would be able to spot a fake a mile away. If not in the first interaction, you would certainly not be able to fool him in the long run. And then, he will turn you away. Be honest, be sincere. Don’t compromise on your integrity.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow!

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Abhishek Anand

Helping businesses grow 10x faster, and scale efficiently. Top Writer — Quora, Medium. Drop in a line if you’d like help with yours. mail@abyshake.com