Mentoring and Advising

I mentor entrepreneurs; I advise companies; sometimes sit on a board of directors, and occasionally am a consultant.  
Mentorship is a special 1-1 relationship with an entrepreneur: Helping them develop their skill sets, becoming better entrepreneurs, and guiding them on their startup journey.
I’ve mentored more than 200-300 entrepreneurs over the past 15 years, from students, to seasoned executives launching their first business. I’ve mentored many entrepreneurs of different fields, backgrounds and ambitions. 
Some of the entrepreneurs have gone on to formidable success in their careers, – gone on to build innovative products, attract funding, generate revenues and become very successful.
Often, I act as a mentor to mentors (helping them become better mentors).  And my next book (slated for this fall) is titled: The Startup Brain Trust. It’s all about mentors and advisors for entrepreneurs.
Mentors shouldn’t charge for mentoring. If it ever becomes that much work then the mentor becomes more of a professional coach (and then should charge for their services).
If we meet a few times and you are indeed a promising entrepreneur, and you think I am the mentor for you, then we’ll make it work.

Advising is about specific situations (e.g. preparing for a funding negotiation), or about specific domains (e.g. marketing, product development). Advising is company-centric as opposed to entrepreneur-centric, and are more fixed term relationships. Sometimes I advise ventures through an organization like the Arizona Commerce Authority, or on behalf of a university program. in 2020 – most of my mentoring interactions are via zoom and remote video.
Industries I have mentored, advised or consulted include: 
  • Software, Digital Media, and SaaS products; 
  • Consumer electronic hardware products; 
  • Social Media products and services that leverage the tenets of human behavior design.
  • Med-Tech, BioTech, some life sciences, and health care services.
  • Predictive analytics, and Artificial Intelligence.
  • Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding services and products.
And I’ve advised companies in specific situations:
  • Preparing for funding pitch events.
  • Finding product market-fit, designing the first prototype and MVP.
  • Venture capital negotiation/term sheet review.
  • Entering new markets, approaching large customers and partners.
I truly like helping entrepreneurs – all kinds. But I am a more effective mentor when you are an entrepreneur looking to build far-reaching solutions for large markets, or building “scalable” ventures. I can guide you through that journey of getting started, identifying the right market and solution, building a product, and leading a team, preparing for funding, dealing with customers and partners, and growth. 
If you’re wanting to just ‘run your own business’ – or start a consulting business, a solo business etc, then there are many other mentors and experts much better suited to help you.  Same – If you need help running business operations, there are many consultants and service providers who are better at this than me.  If you really are looking for an investor (or quick introductions) – instead of a mentor – then I’m definitely not your guy.
But, if you’re willing to listen and take action: willing to change course, challenge your assumptions and move out of your comfort zone – then I might be the right guide for your entrepreneurial journey. 
What I will do (usually):
  • I am happy to chat with almost any entrepreneur to hear about what you’re doing and where you think you need help.
  • I’ll always answer thoughtful emails from entrepreneurs – who are truly enthusiastic and committed, and who also have spent a little time learning about my background, so we have a good starting point.
  • Have an initial zoom chat or phone call.
  • Meet with you several times, if you are working hard, taking my advice and making progress.
What I won’t do (usually)
  • Talk to people who are just talking to every “mentor” and shopping around for advice that they want to hear.
  • Have a “pick my brains” conversation (most mentors dislike this – but it might just be a matter of semantics)
  • Perform miracles. If you’ve waited until your company is broken and broke, or are desperate – I really can’t offer more than a reality check.
  • Meet once and then introduce you to investors or customers.
  • Talk to another company, expert of organization on your behalf (unless we really get to know each other)
  • Invest:  as a rule – I separate investing from mentoring and advising.  (Some entrepreneurs reach out and ask for “advice” and mentoring – when they just want fast-funding)
  • Hands on work – particularly on pitches, financials, marketing or product development. This is more the purview of advising and consulting, and is a different conversation.
What I might do (maybe)
  • Have an ongoing mentoring relationship. this depends on you, how well you react to mentoring, and other factors such as your responsiveness and my availability.
  • Introduce you to other experts, potential customers or funding sources – but probably not in the first hour.
  • Sit on your company’s board of advisors. But this falls under “advisory” 
  • Help you prepare for a funding pitch, for an organization where I have an official role. This is delicate, and has boundaries – but in certain cases is OK and if it doesn’t violate any ethics.
  • Participate in a mentoring program. I usually don’t do this anymore (for lots of reasons), but am not blindly opposed.
Advising with tangible deliverables and deadlines is really ‘consulting’.  For instance, asking for help on crafting your pitch deck, product strategy, troubleshooting tech issues, reviewing funding documents, are all consulting gigs. 

Occasionally I’m retained as a consultant, on a very specific, case-by-case basis.
Usually in the following areas:
  • Startup Development, Strategy.
  • Product Development Strategy, and Implementation.
  • Funding and Finance Strategy.
  • Pitch Preparation. Funding Preparation.
  • Specific Technical areas include software development, AI, Media and Content, Game mechanics, Behavior design.
  • Program development (entrepreneurship programs, mentor programs, accelerators and incubators)
  • Innovation Programs.
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