Mentorship is key to an Indian accelerator


My Google alert for “mentoring entrepreneurs” is not restricted to news from the U.S. so I occasionally gets stories from India which are quite interesting. The article from Yourstory starts with a great quote from Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman:

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.

What a fantastic motto for mentorship!

There are over 140 accelerators and incubators in India, ranked third after China and the U.S. NetApp, a global data storage and management giant, has its own accelerator, aptly named NetApp Excellerator.

If I have to pick one thing that sets aside NetApp’s accelerator programme from the rest, it is the quality of the mentors and its world-class mentorship,” says Ajeya Motaganahalli, Sr. Director and leader for NetApp Startup Accelerator. “With NetApp’s rich history of innovation and expertise in data management, we are providing startups working in this area with the right mentorship – both technical and business.

A mentor is not coming with any biases towards the business and has an outside-in perspective. Parag Deshmukh, Archsaber mentor. This is congruent with a guiding principle of The MIT Venture Mentoring ServiceParticipants are assured impartial and unbiased advice by a strict code of ethics. And of course congruent with my favorite
Alan Kay quote: Perspective is worth 80 IQ points. We all have our biases, but just like journalists we need to both be aware of those biases and endeavor not to let those biases interfere with our mentoring process.

Mentoring is an educational process and it is bi-directional, mentees learn from mentors but mentors also learn from their mentees. The learning was not one-sided. The mentors say they also in turn, learnt from the startups. “I learnt a lot in terms of the workflows in healthcare and the various insights they provide through their AI platform said Priya Sehgal, Sigtuple mentor. I’ve tended to not sign up for mentoring sessions for startups in medical devices and bioengineering, as I have zero education, experience, or expertise in those areas. However, while VMS offers its mentors a signup process, The MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund assigns mentor teams – no choices! But as a result of being assigned to a mentor teams for both medical devices and bioengineering I’ve learned a fair amount about those markets and now pay much more attention to developments in those fields.

Finally the question is asked, how is mentoring a business different than mentoring founders? Calling a consultant to evaluate a business and him putting in an elaborate report on the changes that need to be made to make the business successful and handing it over to founders for executing it, is very different from going along with the founders as a team on the path to realisation of their goal,” says Parag Deshmukh.

There’s much more to the article if you are interested in the mentoring process, which seems very similar to mentoring in the U.S. In fact if you go to the home page of Yourstory it may take you a while to realize it’s an Indian site, so similar are the stories to tech focused web news sites in the U.S. Entrepreneurship is truly a global phenomenon and I’m glad to see that mentorship is as well.

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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