Cheryl Rogers of 83 Degrees Media in Tampa Bay, Florida article quotes a number of entrepreneurs in the Tampa area about the value of mentoring and has a few tips on finding the right mentor. As she says, A mentor — or multiple mentors — are key to a business’ success, but they are not always easy to come by.
As others have stated finding the right mentor takes work;
“You can’t just go to a couple events,” explains Linda Olson, President of Tampa Bay WaVE, a grassroots nonprofit supporting tech startups. “You really need to take it seriously. You really need to invest in finding a mentor. You’re going to have to kiss a lot of frogs.”
One of those interviewed references a 2015 TechCrunch article on the the study of New York City startups by non-profit Endeavor between 2003 and 2013. “33 percent of founders who are mentored by successful entrepreneurs went on to become top performers. This is over three times better than the performance of other New York-based tech companies,” the article says.
Unlike many mentoring organizations, the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator in West Tampa does remote mentoring using video calling via Skype, WhatsApp or Zoom. “When we have them on camera, then they can’t be on the train. They can’t be making dinner. They can’t be taking the dog for a walk.” I wish the article had delved more deeply into how effective remote mentoring has been for this accelerator. I have found mentoring one or two founders via Skype works fine and have done a number of sessions. If the team is bigger than that other members need to step back as video just doesn’t lend itself as well as in person when multiple people are involved.
Here’s a tip on finding a mentor that I haven’t seen before from Ramesh Sambasivan, President of TiE Tampa Bay and an active mentor.
Another way to meet mentors is giving back to the community. Sambasivan actually prefers volunteering to networking.
“If you really want to find a mentor, start volunteering,” he suggests. “When you do networking, there is a lot of posturing. It’s very different when you go to volunteer.”
That’s a great recommendation which I heartily endorse and a good alternative to the typical advice of “network, network, network.” Mentors are all volunteers, so by volunteering yourself you’ll be more likely to meet mentors, whether at an incubator, accelerator or an event related to entrepreneurship. Virtually every non-profit can use an extra pairs of hands, if only to help with big events, so get out their and volunteer if you are looking for a mentor. Try giving back before asking for help for your venture.