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With support from venture studio and innovation group BlueChilli and socially-focused consultancy 180 Degrees Consulting UNSW, we have looked into creating our own mentoring app for startup founders in 2021.

We interviewed dozens of prospective and current mentees and experienced mentors, did an in-depth analysis of the startup mentoring landscape in Australia and researched best practices from successful mentoring relationships and programs.

Ultimately, we have concluded that we shouldn’t be focusing on creating our own mentoring app, as there are some great mentoring programs and platforms already serving the North Shore entrepreneurial community and the change we would be able to affect in this space at this time wouldn’t justify the resource investment we would need to make as an NFP.

However, we have collected a number of insights that we think you might find useful if you are a mentee, a mentor or the coordinator of a mentoring program.

Looking for a mentor?

You are not alone and you are likely right in doing so.

In fact, most successful founders credit having access to a mentor as the most important help they’ve received for their business 1.

Available to be a mentor?

Building and growing a startup isn’t easy. Having someone in their corner can make a big difference to an entrepreneur.

If you have found your own startup or have expertise and connections that can be relevant to entrepreneurs, you can be that someone.

We’ve put together a list of programs and platforms through which you can find a mentor or become one:

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Making the most of being mentored

The experience of past mentees says that you’ll make the most out of mentoring if:

  • You set a clearly defined learning focus (list of expectations) in an action plan during the first mentoring session
  • Seek to develop qualities such as a desire to learn, a people and goal orientation and an ability to demonstrate your own initiative
  • Have multiple mentors during the initial stage of your company’s life
  • You maintain long relationships with mentors rather than short ones.

What mentors told us

Most of the mentors we’ve interviewed told us they:

  • Mentor entrepreneurs because it gives them a chance to give back.
  • Would be happy to mentor someone they don’t know or haven’t been introduced to, as long as they feel they can support them with what they need
  • Find it hard to get connected with mentees
  • Are available to provide speak with and support entrepreneurs between mentoring sessions
  • Usually expect mentees to drive the mentoring relationship and follow up after a mentoring session
  • Would like to be paid for their time or to get a stake in the entrepreneurs’ company if they developed a long term relationship
  • Are indifferent between meeting with mentees in-person or virtually.

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