Startup founders: How to find the right mentor

Nice piece in TechRepublic about how to find the right mentor:

And I’m not just saying that because the author quoted me in it.  🙂

Two additional thoughts that didn’t make it into the final cut:

Advice, Connections, or Credibility? Mentors can bring one or more of these three benefits to the table.  What you need most will direct your search.  Bear in mind that the senior guy at company X who looks awesome on the Team slide may not have time for much more than sharing some vague, but enthusiastic endorsement of your company if asked. Someone more junior may be more likely willing and able to put in the hours it takes to give worthy advice and direction. And while pure corporate types often just don’t understand the ‘startup’ side of the equation enough to advise properly, they can be excellent connectors.

Mentor or Consultant? Don’t mistake the need for expertise with the need for a mentor. Ask yourself this: What will I talk about with this guy in six months? If you come up blank, he’s probably not a mentor.  For instance, if you need to speak to an Information Architecture expert about what tech stack to build on, just pay for a one-time consult outright (or beg a free meeting over lunch) rather than to give away part of your company. Similarly, the master sales / biz dev guru who can get you those critical first customers isn’t really a Connector. You can often compensate him with a percentage of all revenue he generates and (if necessary) a small monthly retainer and save the equity for a true mentor.

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About Andrew Ackerman

Andrew is recovering consultant turned serial entrepreneur, startup mentor and angel investor. He is the Managing Director at Dreamit, currently in charge of the UrbanTech accelerator program. Andrew has also written for Fortune, Forbes, Propmodo, CREtech, Builders Online, Architech Magazine, Multifamily Executive, AlleyWatch, Edsurge, The 74 Million, et. al. Andrew began his career at Booz & Co consulting on strategy and operations for Fortune 100 clients. After a brief stint at Kaplan helping transition their traditional classroom test prep services into online products, he then joined as COO/Head of Product where he spent eight years building it from scratch to the leading provider of web services to the summer camp industry. After being bought out of Bunk1 in 2008, Andrew managed a family office where he was responsible for both incubating new ventures and for managing over $50M of alternative assets including hedge, private equity, and venture capital funds as well as a number of direct investments in private companies. Andrew was also the founding CEO of and has a keen appreciation for how hard it is to build a successful startup, even under the best of circumstances. Andrew received his MBA in Operations & Marketing from Chicago Booth (Beta Gamma Sigma) and a BA in Economics & Political Science from Johns Hopkins University (Phi Beta Kappa). He speaks Hebrew fluently as well as some Spanish, French & Japanese and is working on JavaScript.

One response to “Startup founders: How to find the right mentor”

  1. iThinker says :

    Reblogged this on INVEST-O-MONEY.

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