Last October I have been lucky enough to be a mentor at the BigBooster event in Lyon, France. BIG BOOSTER is an international acceleration program in cooperation with MASSCHALLENGE in Boston (the sister city of Lyon if I am not wrong).
That was my first time mentor and I have been very interested sharing my comments, experience and knowledge with 3 very promising start-ups (it ended with one of our mentored start-up ECHY – @echycontact – being selected to go this February in Boston and at last being selected among the 10 most promising start-ups of the pool. One more step in April and they might get the price 😉 ).
However during the days we were working I did to myself several comments regarding this kind of events and my own value to the start-ups there. That was a life changing experience for me and a truly new vision of what need and what is a start-up that have changed the way I am envisaging working and collaborating with them as Innovation manager in a Corporate.
Here are the points I would like to share:
- Be sure you provide value to your mentored startups but also to your start-ups representatives as an individual. Not only for the company but also for the representative it should be an opportunity to grow.
- Made clear among mentors what are your skills, in which topics each of you is a killer and in which topics you can’t really help. That’s key for your mentored to understand what they can seek from you and what they have to find elsewhere
- Clarify frankly and from the beginning what are the objectives of the startups: winning a slot at the accelerator? working on their projects with professionals with no particular needs or wills to be selected? Challenging their approach? That’s key for you to be sure you provide the need values and advises to your mentored.
- Made a clear and honest feedback. As for an example, we had a start-up which was way to early to confront with the others. That was our duty to tell them and help them making progress during the 3 days.
- Work together on the subject. As a mentor you are also here to work and produce what is needed by your start-up. You are not only a counsellor but also a kind of Blue collar…
- Last but most important: Be humble. Those guys are working hard on their project, that’s their life, their passion. And frankly I have learned a lot from them during those days. Being an entrepreneur is hard.