The way I mentor entrepreneurs

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Entrepreneurship is fascinating to me. That’s why I have spent the past seven years supporting the next generation of tech founders. Initially as a volunteer, then with my full-time role. I also tried my chance several times — not successfully despite learning a bunch at each try.

As the Regional Manager for Techstars in Greater China, I have an opportunity to mentor/coach/support entrepreneurs on a regular basis. I get to meet them at Startup Weekend, but also from meetings, at conferences, or from inbound leads.

When that happens, I will jump on a call with the entrepreneur and let them explain to me what’s the situation. I typically get approached by early-stage founders, who would struggle with similar cases:

  • A challenging situation with a co-founder
  • No product/market fit
  • Looking to scale or get traction
  • Trying to hire talents
Photo by Shannon Rowies on Unsplash

Each situation is unique and exciting to support. I apply myself to listen with the intent to understand the entrepreneur, trying to identify what is the root cause of the problem and how the personal reasons might have created the situation. I ask several questions that I hope will help the founder to think more deeply about the situation, ideally identifying an angle that was unseen previously.

The second intervention that I would help with is bringing structure to an entrepreneur. As usual, there is a high level of attachment and passion regarding the project, and I would try to structure it with a canvas, a framework, a process, or a set of clearly identified deadlines. It’s surprising how often that can help a project get back on track!

I have done most of the mentoring as one-time casual sessions but found myself more and more interested to support great entrepreneurs on the long run, trying to see how I can help and connect them for the long haul. Observing the progress is a journey in itself an intense ride to be a part of!