You may have noticed HackFwd doesn’t have any mentors. Maybe you think that’s crazy given the fact that most startup incubators, accelerators, etc take great pride in their mentors and highlight them boldly on their websites. In fact, it appears that most startup programs believe the more mentors the better. If I’m a first time entrepreneur it must be reassuring to see 50, 60, 70 or 100+ people (seasoned experts?) who will be giving me advice, right? We don’t buy into this theory at HackFwd.
One of HackFwd’s Referrers, Alex Barrera posted an article about this on The Kernel. It’s a very interesting read about how startups are potentially being “over-mentored” to the point where they live in a state of constant confusion.
Another example is the recent post on the Kicktable blog citing having met with 90 mentors over the course of 10 days. Conclusion: “After 10 days, the main lesson is the following: nobody knows! This is our business, our vision, our users. These are the only things that really matter.”
Assigning mentors and forcing startups to meet with them is not working. It’s overkill and most importantly, it’s incredibly distracting. It’s not about 10 minute mentoring, it’s about building a long-term, lasting, trusted relationship. This is why we don’t have mentors at HackFwd and two years into our operations, we believe it’s working.
We believe that at the core our geeks know what they are doing and we trust their intuition. We have a very strict selection process, after all. But along the way when they have questions and want to sidestep known errors, they can talk through the lessons learned with seasoned experts. That’s why we have quarterly Build events throughout the 12 month HackFwd journey: to speed up our companies and help them to make better products and dream bigger.
Now you say, well what’s the point of a startup program without advice. We do have an amazing community of people involved with HackFwd – our Staff, Board, Referrers, Founders and Alumni. All of these individuals and their networks form one of our key competitive advantages. We can put founders and startups in touch with just about anyone. But, it’s up to those founders and those individuals to see whether forming a relationship makes sense. We provide our startups with descriptions of people in our community and say – who do you want to meet with and what questions will you ask. Startups take the lead in identifying and developing potential relations.
At HackFwd, we believe it’s much wiser to invest in extremely talented geeks and give them the opportunity to ingest all the business knowledge we can provide them through connections and experts at our Build events. We also publish all of these talks which we hope will benefit the entire startup ecosystem on Passion Meets Momentum.
In the end, it’s relationships which matter most. Both the founder/startup and the connection need to click. Both must sense excitement in working together, exchanging ideas and building a success. It’s only through the journey and taking every advantage of interacting with experienced people that you will discover the right people to coach/support/mentor you and your startup on the way to success.
HackFwd is about relationships and fostering the ones that make the most sense.
David Bizer, Talent Geek (@hackfwdtalent)