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10/10 VC Series — Part 8: Advice for Founders Seeking Mentorship

BIOS: Nucleus of Life Science Innovation 🚀

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Alix Ventures: Supporting Early Stage Life Science Startups Engineering Biology to Drive Radical Advances in Human Health

Calling All Innovators Click to Reach Out 🚀

We are honored to feature investors at:

8VC, SV Angel, Lux Capital, ARTIS Ventures, Prefix Capital, KdT Ventures, Civilization Ventures, Arkitekt Ventures, Inovia Capital, & Alix Ventures

We asked our guests:

“As a founder building something new in the world, you are often in need of knowledge you don’t possess. How would you recommend founders go about seeking mentorship?”

“Understand the weaknesses that are prohibiting you from running your business at its full potential. Experienced investors and operators can help you identify those gaps and introduce you to mentors that can help you close them. Rinse and repeat until retirement.”

Byron Alsberg — Co-Founder & Partner @ Prefix Capital

“Optimize for a mentor less on their potential area of expertise, but rather optimize for a mentor willing to give you unbridled time and who’s had demonstrative success. Good mentorship and business strategy translates across nearly all verticals.”

Phil Grayeski — Principal @ KdT Ventures

“Leverage your network. Read a lot — the best ‘mentor’ may be a historical figure.”

Shahram Seyedin-Noor — Founder & General Partner @ Civilization Ventures

“Find someone that a) knows what they are doing and b) is relevant to what you’re building (via word of mouth, incubators/accelerators, conferences/events, blogs, interviews, medium, news and etc) and reach out through a warm intro or a cold one. Don’t be intimidated by cold intros’ -if your message is thoughtful, targeted and relevant you’d be surprised how many replies you’d get.”

Enke Bashllari — Managing Director @ Arkitekt Ventures

“There’s an incredible, but necessary balancing act between intense humility and self awareness to know where your weak spots are: “where do I need help”, and self assured confidence to seek assistance from the best people in the world “hey expert, here’s what I’m working on, please help me”.”

Zavain Dar — Partner @ Lux Capital

“A common theme amongst top founders is their ability to identify experts and repeatedly get their help/advice. Ryan Holiday wrote a fantastic piece about this trait which he called being a professional son. That article sums up the majority of my advice.”

Francisco Gimenez — Partner @ 8VC

“Find people you look up to and don’t be afraid to engage them. A mentorship goes two ways and in the best scenarios, both parties are learning and enjoying the process.”

Beth Turner — General Partner @ SV Angel

“I always recommend that founders lean into the people they trust and ask who they, in turn, trust and value. Find people that genuinely want to see you succeed, not only as a founder, but also as a person.”

Ameena El-Bibany — Principal @ ARTIS Ventures

“I’ve had the privilege to see founders dramatically improve their abilities and knowledge at an incredibly fast pace. I don’t think there’s a secret sauce to do this well. The only common denominator I see with founders is the open-mindedness and commitment to ask questions and perpetually seeking to become the best version of themselves.”

Antoine Nivard — Principal @ Inovia Capital

“As a Founder, you are shepherding a new idea into the world, the responsibility of this should not be understated. Surrounding yourself with those who have come before you & teaching those who will come after you is how the ecosystem works. We often ask Founders, “how can we help?”. Most Founders always have a few items on their list, some have a laundry list, but it’s those that have nothing, are the ones we really worry about. Mentors first & foremost can help check blindspots, even when times are the best, threats might be existential versus immediate, but they still exist. We advise Founders to build a personal board of directors composed of those who they can have honest conversations with, free of conflict of interest, & seek to level up their knowledge, be it domain, leadership, or preparing for the next stage of company growth. The journey never stops until you do, so why should your growth?”

Chas Pulido — General Partner @ Alix Ventures

Insights

Mentorship is often one of the hardest relationships to establish, and every individual approaches mentorship in a different way — you’ll need to figure out what works best for you, as a startup founder. However, the common thread amongst the healthcare and life sciences investors we interviewed here is that mentorship is critical; a successful startup is the result of an entire community’s efforts, centering around a belief in the team and the mission.

We encourage you to read the individual pieces of advice listed above, but the tldr tidbits are: (1) leverage your network (investors, books, operators, etc.) to discover mentors that help you close your weaknesses/gaps and who are willing to give you time; (2) find mentors with demonstrated track records; (3) be self aware, open-minded, and humble (easier said than done). The final piece of advice is that mentorship is a two-way street: engage with those you look up to, and lean into those who value you and want to see you succeed!

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Alix Ventures, by way of BIOS Community, is providing this content for general information purposes only. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Alix Ventures, BIOS Community, or its affiliates. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by Alix Ventures employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alix Ventures, BIOS Community, affiliates, and content sponsors.

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