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When you think about startup mentoring, you probably have this image of on older entrepreneur advising early stage startups on how to navigate through the shaky world of entrepreneurship. But mentoring has changed a lot in the past few years. Just as the notion of a more experienced entrepreneur mentoring startups is outdated, so is the idea that mentorship is a more one-sided relationship. The traditional mentorship relationship between mentor and mentee is not necessarily a thing of the past and for sure will be a part of the future. But today, there are many other ways to get the expertise and guidance you are looking for.
Before we dive into the how, let’s first take a look at the what:
Mentor, coach or expert? Or a bit of everything?
The term mentoring is quite often misused and very quickly brought together with other concepts such as coaching. Startup accelerators and incubators have a clear defined terminology:
- Mentoring is about nurturing relationships through the process of guided self-discovery by mentees
- Coaching is about delivering knowledge, techniques and tools in a direct and practical training
- Expert advice is about providing a quick and dirty ‘short cut’ through knowledge in a given field
Therefore, mentoring is about a guided process where the mentor nurtures the relationship by providing guidance and the opportunity for the mentee to self-discover new opportunities. And for sure it will happen that even the most experienced mentor cannot offer a direct solution to every problem, just because of the mere fact that his own journey as an entrepreneur might not help to solve the specific problem. Nevertheless, both mentee and mentor can work through the problem and find a solution together – which in the end shows to be much more effective for both, because both have the chance to widen their horizon.
So, do you need startup mentoring?
Now that you have a better overview about mentoring, the question still remains if you need it or not. While the concept and methods of startup mentoring have changed, the need for solid startup advise has not. In fact, because most startups take numerous twists and turns to get their business model and traction right, it requires more than ever a helping hand. To put it simple: An early stage entrepreneur’s life is tough and unpredictable. Therefore, a good helping advise from a startup mentor can be priceless and time saving. That is as well the reason why almost all incubators and accelerators around the world have a team of mentors which advise, support and push startups to the next level.
A look into the future of mentoring with Kanguru
Just as many other industries are drastically changing, so is mentoring itself undergoing a seismic shift – and of course technology plays a major role. A couple of months ago, I discovered a new app idea called Kanguru. Kanguru is a tech mentoring platform focused on efficiency, productivity, and accountability. Through technology, Kanguru retains the human touch, where members will improve their businesses, careers, and skill sets. Mentorships are 1-on-1, topic based, and time specific.
Co-founder Jeff Kudishevich told me that he noticed a common question which early stage entrepreneurs were having when dealing with mentors: Where do I find a (“good”) mentor? Sure, most of them started by searching for mentors at meetups and conferences, but all of that takes a lot of time and in the end is as well a bit awkward. This challenge, which they experienced themselves, sparked the three co-founders to give startup mentoring a new chance and try to monetize their idea by connecting mentee and mentors in a simple to use app. The solution to this common problem is called Kanguru and the team is launching their iOS app on May 31st, servicing the WordPress, UX Design, and Startup communities.
Sign up today at to become an early tester!