By Robbie Coon, program coordinator
Mentors are an important part of the entrepreneurial process and often the most sought after resource by founders. Having access to mentors can help a company overcome challenges quickly and in a way that is customized and relevant. Often, the mentors will have great insight on how to solve various business problems from their own business experience. Leveraging the experience of multiple mentors can really accelerate the crucial early learning phase in a startup company.
Mentors may also serve as a sounding board for other non-business issues, including stress and the general highs and lows of starting a company. Mentors who can offer their strong business experience and expertise are certainly valuable, but when mentors can make strategic introductions to potential customers or investors, they become invaluable. Leveraging the collective network of a group of mentors is a powerful and efficient way to grow a startup company.
That’s why Bounce Innovation Hub is creating a mentor network to provide guidance and support to entrepreneurs while offering local professionals a skills-based volunteer opportunity. Working closely with the Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program at JumpStart in Cleveland, Bounce will offer entrepreneurs the very best experience and the right expertise at the right time.
The ideal Bounce mentor has entrepreneurial experience or relevant business experience they want to share to help companies grow. We are seeking mentors who have built a product with users, generated revenue, taken investment or had an exit. Candidates should have deep industry experience, specific and high-demand skills and an extensive network to make introductions to potential customers or partners.
Please note: the Bounce Mentor Network is for entrepreneurs, advisors and business professionals who are open to sharing their experiences and skills with others with no expectation of compensation, selling services or gaining new clients.
The benefits of becoming a mentor are not only altruistic. Deloitte conducted a study in 2016 to explore the benefits of skills-based volunteering. Deloitte surveyed individuals who are currently employed and have the ability to either directly influence hiring or indirectly influence the person making the hiring decision. The results of the survey indicate that skills-based volunteering can better prepare employees for leadership roles.
- 92% of respondents agree that volunteering improves employees’ broader professional skill sets
- 92% of respondents agree that volunteering is an effective way to improve leadership skills
- 80% of respondents said that active volunteers move more easily into leadership roles
Deloitte concluded that, “For individuals, volunteerism may play an important part in terms of getting a leg up on the competition when applying for jobs, as well as building skills to advance professionally. Individuals may do well to consider incorporating volunteering into their professional development plans, as well as making it known to potential or current employers that they have volunteer experience.”
For mentors interested in joining the Bounce Mentor Network, there are only a few simple guidelines that we like to follow. Our code of conduct includes the following points:
- No expectation of return
- No solicitations
- Do no harm
- Be professional
Our mentoring philosophy is simple, as well, with the following points.
- Grow with the entrepreneur
- Use the Socratic method
- Be respectfully critical
- Be a mentor, not the CEO
- Have fun
Mentors can engage with Bounce in a variety of ways that accommodates a busy professional. We have flexible options for working with entrepreneurs that offer a range of commitment levels (very low to high) and a range of engagement frequencies (opportunities may occur monthly or as infrequent as twice a year).
Some of the engagement options available to Bounce mentors include directly mentoring companies through one-on-one interactions, participating in pitch practices and providing feedback to companies, attending networking events to meet your peer mentors or even delivering educational content to entrepreneurs through workshops.
As a Bounce mentor, you will have an amazing impact on entrepreneurs and startups. We look forward to you joining this community.