There are many promising entrepreneurs building companies with great potential. Sure they can make it on their own, but why not come together and help them along their way?
The objective of the mentorship program is to assist promising entrepreneurs to build great companies. We do this by matching seasoned mentors with promising entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs make a request
Entrepreneurs that have registered a venture with VC4A have the ability to submit a request for mentoring support. These requests are screened by the VC4A team before being posted to the mentor marketplace. We want entrepreneurs to be beyond the ‘idea phase’ and already have a good (draft) business plan covering most aspects of the startup. The mentor request should be clearly explained and actionable. The more specific is the request, this easier it is to find a mentor.
Define the coaching need
Once a request is posted to the Mentor Marketplace it is up to one of the VC4A mentors to step forward and register an expression of interest. The entrepreneur will be notified there is a mentor available and either accept or decline the expression of interest. Once a connection is made, it is important for the entrepreneur and mentor to define the coaching need.
Agree on a process
For the coaching process itself, we recommend the entrepreneur and mentor agree on a time period (for example 2 weeks, or 6 weeks or etc) and agree to the preferred communication tools (via mail, via Skype). It is also helpful to agree on what the objective is upfront e.g. finish a business plan, a final version of a contract, a clear road map of next steps, etc… The time period will depend on the specific situation where a relatively simple question can be handled in a few days and a more complicated process might require several months of interaction.
Mentor for success
Managing the mentorship cycle successfully depends on both parties agreeing to a clear objective, a realistic time engagement and a commitment to follow up accordingly. A few tips:
Do not sit on the chair of the entrepreneur and for example write parts of his/her business plan;
Do not take on a ‘team member role’ e.g. do the cash flow analysis when the entrepreneur should hire a financial expert to do this;
Mentoring should be about transferring skills and knowledge. The entrepreneur has the responsibility to implement what they feel is relevant and always makes the final decision.
Last but certainly not least
We don’t charge fees, we don’t ask for financial gain, we do this out of our shared interest to see entrepreneurs realize their potential.
Step by step guide for entrepreneurs: Connecting with the right mentor
Visit the mentorship marketplace and click on ‘I am seeking a Mentor’. For this, you need to have a well-filled in venture profile and your user account should be up to speed as well, including a photo of you and your LinkedIn account.
Fill in your mentorship request, including:
Request title Your request title should be short and to the point, and yet summarize what you are looking for and what your business is about. Tell us, where your startup is based, in which sector you are operating, and the kind of advice you seek. For example: “Nigerian fintech startup seeking digital marketing advice”
Problem statement Explain in more detail, what it is you are struggling with, and what you have tried so far to mitigate this. For example: “We have tried various online marketing channels and tools to reach our target customers. However, we do not have enough experience in that field and are not satisfied with the performance of our various campaigns.”
Request statement What it is you are looking for in your mentor? Try to be as specific as possible, to enable the best possible match. For example: “You could help us by reviewing our current campaigns and giving us feedback and advice as of how we can optimize these to get a better return on investment of our marketing budget. We are looking for a mentor with expertise in digital marketing, to help us fine-tune our campaigns.”
Click on “Add request & preview”. Here you can double-check it once more and save these changes. Your mentorship remains in preview-status for now. The VC4A team will review it and either reach out to give you feedback on how to improve it, or confirm it, publishing it to be seen by our mentors.
You will receive a notification and a PM, once a mentor has indicated that they are interested in becoming your mentor and helping you with the particular problem you stated.
Visit your request and see who is offering their mentorship advice. It is your choice to accept or decline this offer.
When you click on “Accept”, you and the mentor now automatically follow each other. This means you can start interacting.
Once you have accepted the offer, the mentor will be notified and encouraged to get in touch. However, since you are the one seeking support, make sure to be pro-active and start the conversation.