What are some good ways of finding mentors and advisors for you and your product?

How do you go about asking them to be your mentor or an advisor for you and your startup? Is it just contacting, couple of meetups and asking?


Like anything to do with a startup, it's about proactive outreach. AngelList is a great way to research what people have done before. You want to optimize for relevant experience. AngelList however is very ineffective for making cold connections. Instead, I use LinkedIn and ensure to always write a personalized introduction with my connection request explaining why my company is something they would be interested in.

After the connection is accepted, I then follow-up with a personalized email thanking them for accepting the request and then asking to buy them a coffee or schedule a meeting.

I have built a great network of both formal and informal advisors and investors through this process.

Formal advisors really should be limited to just a few. In these cases, granting options to purchase equity between 0.5 - 1% is standard for great advisors. But reimbursing expenses is far less standard. I'll always offer to pick-up the tab as a sign of respect for their time, but other than that, advisors (myself included) are generally happy to pay out-of-pocket unless for travel.

Just like any relationship, be sure that you want to make a long-term commitment in equity before formalizing the relationship. Often, good advisors where there is a mutual chemistry will be happy to do many meetings without anything committed.

Lastly, I would caution you to be wary of people who approach you to act as an advisor and/or people who are actively operational and also on many advisory boards. I limit myself to a handful of formal advisory relationships at a time and it's usually owing to a longstanding friendship that I am an advisor. You want your advisors that you're paying equity to to really be engaged.

Happy to talk any of this with you in a call.

Answered 10 years ago

I have been mentoring and advising early companies and startups for a while now... It is mostly done through some organizations - alumni or University mentoring services, state or local, or some specialized mentoring groups and services. Most mentors are volunteers and usually they are not allowed to be "compensated" by companies they mentor. Advisors on the other hand are usually compensated for their time (more often with equity and expense reimbursements).

If you do not know an appropriate organization that could help you find mentors and advisers - reach out to relevant experts in your field or academics. People usually are willing to talk and if you like what they are saying you can discuss formal arrangements.

Answered 10 years ago

Ask is important. Always reach out to people who you believe could be great mentors to you and be specific in your ask for example, don't just ask "please be my Mentor" be more specific then that as to what help you are looking for, expectations, time commitments etc.

There are specific organizations who you can reach out for a Mentor match as well, for example, if you're a young entrepreneur in Canada, you could reach out to CYBF Canadian Youth Business Foundation or in US you could go for SCORE and many more.

Answered 10 years ago

Some good ways of finding mentors and advisors for you and your product are as follows:
Networking events are designed to put people in contact with one another, making these events perfect opportunities to expand your professional network. For example, there might be a start-up incubator with an open workspace where you can get some work done and still meet some new people in the industry, or else a weekly brainstorming meeting among creative minds at the downtown library.
I am tempted to put Ā«social mediaā€ here, but Twitter and LinkedIn are the big players for connecting with professionals. Small Business Development Centres are independent organizations that provide resources, expertise, and advice to emerging entrepreneurs in major cities across the country. SCORE is an organization dedicated to helping individuals start, run, and grow their own businesses. There are currently more than 11,000 volunteers in the program, with 320 chapters around the country; you can check here for a chapter near you.
Are there any industry expos coming up in your surrounding area? Conferences or speaking events regarding your industry? If so, these are perfect places to find someone more experienced than you -and you can learn more about your industry during the search. Obviously, your direct competitors will be reluctant to give you practical advice on how to succeed. Instead, seek out your indirect competitors, such as companies in the same industry targeting a different segment of the market, or companies across the country with no bearing on your local relationships.
Volunteering is a surprisingly good way to make new connections. You will meet all kinds of people, from college students to retirees, all of whom will be able to teach you something new. Have you asked around your circle of friends and family? Someone in your contacts list might know a cousin or former roommate who went on to become a successful entrepreneur. The truth is, if you are open to new experiences and new contacts, you could potentially meet a mentor anywhere. Talk to strangers. Get to know your acquaintances better. You never know who will lend you the next major insight or give you the next landmark introduction in your life.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 3 years ago

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