Santa Fe Innovates is building a mentorship network to work closely with the entrepreneurs in our business accelerator program. We recently provided mentors and advisory council members with a program update and discussed our plans for working with mentors going forward.
We are in Stage 1, the Ideation stage. Entrepreneurs ensure they understand the problem and the solution fit is solid and understood. They should also have an understanding of the purpose of their business and model to support it
In Stage 2, we will move into the solution market fit phase. There will be a focus on customers and building the MVP, as well as gaining a basic idea of what their business models and social impact models will be at the end of that stage. They should understand how their business purpose delivers a positive impact and to whom.
Stage 3 focuses on bringing solutions to market and understanding the investments required. There is an emphasis on the social entrepreneurship side of things, including leadership, business planning, and getting ready for investor pitches. Also, understanding your sustainable social impact and how it can be balanced with your business growth.
In Stage 1, Santa Fe Innovates staff have provided most of the coaching services as the entrepreneurs work through the product–solution–fit. As we get ready to enter Stage 2, we will begin matching mentors with entrepreneurs so they can work together as we move forward in the program.
Mentors can get to know the seven entrepreneurs by attending the first pitch event to be held on October 10th. This pitch is about the idea in Stage 1 and focused on product–solution–fit. This event is not open to the public, but mentors in our database will be invited. Click here to apply or learn about becoming a mentor at the Santa Fe Innovates Startup Accelerator.
Mentoring is a balance of not directing entrepreneurs in what to do but guiding and coaching them to figure out the tradeoffs and decisions they need to make and helping them make those decisions for the best possible outcomes.
A quote that sums this up well is:
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
~ Steven Spielberg.
We offer four mentorship opportunities for working with our social entrepreneurs:
Connector – a willingness to help entrepreneurs connect with industry expertise.
Coach – Work with early-stage entrepreneurs asking questions to challenge and guide.
Mentor – Serve as a sounding board for strategy and direction, using experience to support and assist.
Investor – Potentially investing or being a board member in a new venture.
We asked our mentors how they describe meaningful mentoring and received these responses:
- Mentors want to be valued for their expertise
- Mentees must be open to suggestions and ideas
- Sharing experiences
- Not standing in the way of good ideas, and helping to refine them
- Listening, hearing what their needs are, advice must be relevant to entrepreneurs’ needs
- Share and amplify a sense of excitement around an idea, helping entrepreneurs translate excitement to customers, investors, etc.
- Suspend beliefs – until you understand motivations and aspirations, then at an appropriate time, inject reality into their analysis.
Matching Entrepreneurs and Mentors
We will conduct a matching process between our entrepreneurs and our mentors. For entrepreneurs, this process will take into account the skills and expertise needed to complement their founders, including startup experiences, roles and functions, and industry knowledge. For mentors, this will focus on the type of entrepreneur and startup they want to work with.
We will make every effort to meet the matching requests of both entrepreneurs and mentors but will also provide guidance if needed to optimize the match.
Our objective is to have two mentors for each entrepreneur. This provides a more diverse set of experiences and perspectives to help them along the way.
Our Virtual Neighborhood
Mentors will be asked to join our virtual community – Go Social Entrepreneurs. This a general entrepreneurial community that everybody can join. Additionally, we have created a private circle for the entrepreneurs’ cohort where we can share content with them, and they can ask questions, share information, or request help from the community.
We are also evaluating the creation of a private mentor circle that would include cohort members as well. Mentors would keep a presence in the general entrepreneurial community too. If we do this, we will communicate guidelines for mentors and entrepreneurs as they communicate with each other.
Our communities are essential, and we intend to make them valuable to our mentors, our entrepreneurs, and a good experience for all.
Santa Fe Innovates serves both entrepreneurs and mentors so that everyone has a good experience. We want to help grow a more robust startup community here in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico. We are a Benefit Corporation, and part of our social mission is to promote economic diversity in Santa Fe through social entrepreneurship.
We want Santa Fe to be recognized as a place for social entrepreneurs to start, stay, grow, and achieve a positive impact. Through our community, New Mexico will become a state known for social impact investing and scalable social enterprises.