Entrepreneurs build the future, grow and diversify our economy organically. By becoming part of our Mentor Network, you are fueling the startup community and supporting the growth of the innovation economy, right here in the Midwest.
How we engage with Mentors:
FORUMS - Each week we will cover a specific topic and invite founders or investors with first-hand experience building a business or investing in one, to share their perspective on what went wrong, how they overcame failure and what they wish they would’ve known in the early days.
OFFICE HOURS - Depending on the topic covered, each week we schedule 30 minute meetings with Mentors that can provide feedback, insight or connections in these core areas: business modeling, customer validation, product validation and investor validation.
MOCK BOARDS - This year, we are introducing mock boards to help founders who don’t currently have a board, get used to having one. Board members provide direction, monitor progress and facilitate connections. Mentors who serve in this capacity understand “mock” boards will dissolve after Founders graduate the program. It is up to the Founders to request long-term commitments. *This type of engagement requires Mentors to meet at least once a month with the startup and provide ongoing feedback to StitchCrew.
INVESTOR PITCH - Towards the end of the program, we simulate investment pitch meetings. These mentors are local and out of state investors willing to coach the Founders on how to improve their pitch and investment deck.
* Mentors within our network spend a minimum of 3.5 hours and average of 6.5 hours.
Our Mentor Network is our secret sauce. That's why we developed a criteria of what we look for in a Mentor and a Code to live by. Our Network consists of individuals from in and out of state with deep industry, investment, operations or entrepreneurship experience. Mentors in this community are not financially compensated throughout the program. They work with the companies pro bono, without expectation of reward or compensation. They share their knowledge and guidance freely and open their networks when appropriate. The success of the companies are a direct result of the generous contributions of mentors.
- Strive to be a good listener
- Understand the value of pay-it-fwd, give first and expect nothing in return.
- Are genuine and lead by example.
- Are direct, tell the truth but are not an a$$ about it.
- Learn as much from the Founders as the Founders from them.
- Are responsive.
- Can hold information in confidence.
- Know what they don’t know & are cool about it. Bravado is not their thing.
- Guide not control. Understand Founders must make their own decisions. It’s their company, not ours.
- Are optimistic and understand Founders may not be where they need to be but they may be able to help them get there.
- Provide tangible, actionable advice and avoid being vague.
- Are empathetic, because they've been there. Startups are hard.
- Challenge but are 'never' destructive.
- Yes! Mentors can invest and engage in company operations - 'at' the Founders discretion, we just ask that these engagements be done independent of the our program.
Did we lose you? Good, keep reading.
We start by assessing business model and stage. From there we work with the Founders to develop an action plan of tangible deliverables to be achieved throughout the 12 week program. Each week we monitor progress and invite subject matter mentors to speak on a variety of subjects, from Startup Mechanics to Fundraising and Negotiation.
SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT
You'll receive a summary of the companies in the cohort and will be invited to participate in a mentor madness event (speed-dating with all the companies). Once you've had a chance to meet the companies or review their profile, you will let us know which companies you'd like to mentor. You will also be listed as a mentor in our online platform, don't worry we will not release your contact information. Instead the founders can request to meet with you and you will have the opportunity to opt in or out. We will then help schedule introduction meetings.