When comparing friends’ respective industries, one point of pride for the early stage tech community is the strong focus on giving back and helping those one, two, three billion rungs below you up the venture ladder. I would not be where I am today without the advisors and mentors I’ve connected with – whether I’m on the phone with them every day, or simply exchanged a quick email with. Steve Blank points it out here.
While not a seasoned entrepreneur with multiple exits under my belt, I’ve been advising and mentoring others through a number of venues (including Acceleprise and 1776). As someone who has usually gone through whatever a mentee is dealing with in prior years, months, or even days, I can lend some insight. Usually, it’s “here’s how I screwed it up, this is what I would do again” flavored advice.
Where I can add the most value:
- Product design and specifications
- Technical issues
- How to recruit and support sales/marketing talent.
- How to screw up, or not, as a CEO.
- How to start growing a positive company culture.
What I don’t advise on:
Funding. While funding is often a key part of the status quo for startups, it’s not what I choose to focus on when mentoring and advising startups, nor should “introductions to investors” be a key outcome of our relationship. While I’ve raised multiple rounds of funding from angels, incubators, and institutional VCs, I have two strong beliefs here. A) There are countless others who are more experienced and can therefore provide valuable advice and guidance. B) There are so many more important things than fundraising. Fundraising is a distraction, so let’s focus on something else.
DC-based or not – let’s chat: firstname.lastname@example.org