Skip to content

On Why to Mentor

I had the great pleasure of being a mentor for the recent Techstars accelerator program: “Techstars Economic Mobility powered by Samvid Ventures.”

This program was meant for talented entrepreneurs designing solutions that generate greater economic mobility for low- and moderate-income Americans, including technical and skill-based education, financial inclusion, and economic resilience. It was a truly amazing group of startups featuring diverse social-impact-oriented companies. The founders were hard-working and intelligent and brought real care to the issues that their companies addressed.

A special thank you to the startups I worked with most closely, including Making Space, a talent acquisition and education platform for disabled, overlooked, and underrepresented communities, and Take2, an AI-powered job simulation program to create better hiring matches using real-world scenarios.

Also, a big thank you to Keith Camhi, the Managing Director for the accelerator, who ran a terrific and valuable program, and Sara Wadud, Senior Manager of the Global Mentor Program, for the all-star mentor shoutout.

I thought I would write a few thoughts on what I got from the mentoring experience and why you might want to consider mentoring at an accelerator like Techstars.

Why to Mentor

Founder Energy

The infectious enthusiasm and relentless drive of the founders at Techstars was palpable. Working closely with passionate entrepreneurs, you are invigorated by their dedication to solving complex problems. This energy can be incredibly motivating, serving as a reminder of the raw passion that often kickstarts successful ventures. It’s a unique inspiration that can rekindle your entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to making an impact.

Program Structure

Techstars’ structured approach to acceleration provides a clear pathway for mentors and founders to engage meaningfully. The program’s design, emphasizing growth and learning, allowed you to witness firsthand the transformation of startups from early-stage concepts and ideas to potentially market-ready solutions. It’s a good reminder of what it takes to go from zero to one and can help you break through on your own projects as well.

Mission Alignment

Engaging with startups focused on enhancing economic mobility offered me a profound sense of purpose and alignment with broader social goals. It shows you how to align values and commitment with your startup and how to leverage technology for social good. It’s a powerful reminder of the potential for entrepreneurial ventures to drive significant societal change, and how important it is to believe in your venture sincerely.

Ongoing Updates

The weekly and monthly newsletters from startups continue through the program and beyond. Staying updated on the progress of the startups offers continuous learning opportunities. These updates serve as real-world case studies on the challenges and triumphs faced by early-stage companies. They also keep you connected to the pulse of innovation within the tech and social impact spaces, and are a reminder of how to do good investor relations as well! I look forward to staying connected to all of the startups, and seeing how their stories unfold.

New Friends and Connections

It goes without saying that the relationships formed during the program can extend beyond professional networking; they evolve into genuine friendships and meaningful connections. These ties can enrich your personal and professional life, and can connect you people with similar aspirations and challenges.

Personal Growth

Mentoring at Techstars also offered significant personal growth opportunities. You have to really think about how to give the best advice possible, and there is a lot of value in this process. Guiding startups through challenges requires business planning expertise, empathy, patience, and effective communication. This experience can hone your leadership skills, teaching you new ways to inspire, motivate, and guide teams toward their goals – and help you evaluate your own businesses as well through a new lens.

Deepened Industry Insights

Being immersed in a hub of innovation can allow you to keep in touch with emerging trends, technologies, and business models. This exposure is invaluable, broadening your perspective and enhancing your ability to anticipate and respond to shifts in the market. Such insights are critical for staying ahead in a rapidly evolving tech landscape.

Reminder of Resilience

Working with startups facing the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial journey reinforces the importance of resilience. Seeing their perseverance is a powerful reminder of the critical role that determination and grit play in overcoming obstacles. This lesson applies far beyond the world of startups, and it’s energizing and important to see people taking on big challenges and solving problems.

In short, I recommend the experience to any experienced entrepreneur. If you would like to learn more about the specific Techstars startups in the program that I participated in, please check out their demo day presentations, which culminated the program: