Tips how to prepare to mentor startups in a short 1 on 1 session that both sides feel that they benefit the most out of it

Let’s start with startups and how to pick the right one: 

From my experience, there are 3 interesting elements that you should look at in addition to the team, idea, and other factors that are thought about in startups.

1. The best startups to mentor are the one that already has at least a small number of the customers to deal with. Companies that (even if it’s a pilot) launched their product on the market. Why? Because at that moment it becomes crystal clear that even the best ideas are not perfect. Customers don’t live to use your product, they have different needs and not everything is so obvious for them as it is for the founders.
The startup team starts to think about the things that at the development of the idea they usually didn’t even know, like customer care, logistics, or other elements that are present in modern-day running business. That kind of startups are keener to listen about different approaches, they are willing to experiment to check and optimize their operations and even more. They are willing to talk to their customers to understand them better and finally apply their insights to the idea of the startup. 

2. What about the startup that didn’t launch their product yet? Look for the one that is committed to the idea of – fail fast. Obviously no one wants to have that, but there are people who understand how to make failure beneficial. Those people can quickly process the information that comes with the mistake and learn from it. Failure doesn’t mean the end of the startup if you are agile enough to do a quick pivot.

Therefore the combination of the attitude of going fast to market + fail fast is what you are looking for in your startup team. Like Elon Musk said: think about what you want to achieve in 10 years and try to do it in 1 you probably fail but you will be much closer to your goal then everyone else that didn’t do it. 

3. Select the startup that has global thinking. Most of the teams are thinking only about their local market. They compare themselves to local competitors and think about customers from the local society. Of course, there are markets that this might fly. If you are a startup from the USA, India or China you might be satisfied with it, but in Europe, that sort of thinking brings more problems then benefit. Even if at the beginning it seems to be easier very fast it becomes a pain. Companies that think global have a broader perspective on their product, developing process and marketing strategy. Because the global approach is so much difficult and requires a tailored strategy. Teams usually have a plan that already includes some of the challenges, milestones and goals they need to achieve to do successfully lunch their product.

Therefore that sort of thinking will help them, and you as a mentor, to find the way to launch their product on any market, even if the first step will be local.

This is it. This was my 3 tips for mentors that want to help startups in their journey to the stars:)

Bartosz Balewski for Techcelerator

Bartosz Balewski is a mentor in our #NEXTFintech acceleration program.

He’s a strategic experience designer with 12 years of experience. His approach is based on a human-centered design process mostly Design Thinking. He is experienced in every step of the process – from planning research and strategy, to design, testing, and implementation. His knowledge of UX principles, tools, and methodologies helps him in projects, realized for such brands like T-Mobile, Orange, HP, Google, or Arab National Bank. Together with the Google experts community, he’s helping startups from across the world to deliver a great impact on their customers. His mission is to create useful and innovative solutions with close cooperation with a team, business, and customers. For the last 4 years, he’s managing the designers’ team in a consultancy agency in Warsaw.