Startups mentoring other startups


Shradha Agarwal and Rishi Shah are co-founders of ContextMedia, a health care media company in Chicago. They made a point of financing and mentoring other start-ups.CreditWhitten Sabbatini for The New York Times

The article An Ecosystem Where Start-Ups Help Other Start-Ups in The New York Times by John F. Wasik highlights how startups can mentor other startups in a symbiotic relationship.

Shradha became our first investor and gave us our first check for $25,000 and employed ‘radical candor,’” in her mentoring, Mr. Iseri said. That included discussions about tough decisions that had to be made when building a business, such as hiring, firing and determining long-term goals.

“It is always difficult to fire someone,” Mr. Iseri said. He described one situation where a sales representative was a high performer but didn’t fit the culture at SwipeSense. “Shradha was very clear; her direct feedback was to part ways right then and there, and she highlighted that no amount of short-term results can justify holding on to folks who won’t be long-term members of the team.” Mr. Iseri is co-founder and chief executive of SwipeSense, a company focused on reducing hospital infections.

Shradha showed us how to hire and incorporate our values while mentoring us. said Mr. Iseri.

For their part, Mr. Iseri and Ms. Tenuta were inspired by their experiences to mentor other start-ups. These may be at university-based or private incubators and accelerators, in co-working environments or through other angel investors and venture capitalists. Jessica Tenuta, a co-founder and head of design of Packback which offers online learning communities and digital textbooks for college students.

So while many of us mentors picture other mentors as older, experienced founders, this Chicago ecosystem of startups changes that picture: mentors can be anyone who can provide helpful advice, guidance, and feedback to someone else.

Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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