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How to make the most of quick conversations with start-up gurus

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 | By Rose Powell

Mentoring can be the make-or-break factor in a start-up’s journey, so it pays to make the most of every opportunity.


The team at the Indooroopilly-based ilab Accelerator program have launched their Mentor Blaze program, a two-hour window to schedule 20 minute mentoring sessions with 17 mentors.


The mentors come from a range of backgrounds including start-up founders, venture capital and angel investors and senior management from major tech companies.


Leigh Angus, the program director at the ilab Accelerator, told StartupSmart entrepreneurs need to get ready to get a lot of insights and ideas about their businesses.


“We go hard and fast for two hours. Mentors are briefed to get to the core issues quickly, so entrepreneurs can go straight in feet first; just jump in, share your biggest challenge,” Angus says.


“The mentors are there to hold the mirror up a little bit, so entrepreneurs can hear their own words, see their own vision and keep on that path and maybe redirect based on the advice they receive.”


As mentoring is primarily relational, this event is designed to connect entrepreneurs to possible ongoing mentoring relationships.


“A good mentoring relationship is organic and grows over time. It’s about putting these people in the room to do a bit of the matchmaking so those relationships can grow,” Angus says.


“Many of the founders are just looking to receive some affirmation that they’re on the right path. They’ve got an idea, it’s about checking it’s a good one. Our mentors probably won’t say whether or not it is, but they’ll suggest areas and ways to validate it.”


Angus adds that the intensive mentoring period can be overwhelming, and entrepreneurs need to be aware that ultimately they’re responsible for any piece of advice they choose to implement.


“You’ve got to get as much as you can from a good pool of quality people, and then walk away and cherry pick the most valuable pieces of advice for your business,” Angus says. “There is a lot of gut instinct in business. The entrepreneur is closest to their industry, their clients and the problem they’re trying got solve.”


The mentors include ilab entrepreneurs-in-residence Locatrix Communications chief executive Mark White and Mammoth Media director David Harrison; investors Grant Smuts and Sam Friend; and entrepreneur and start-up advisor David Novokovic.


The event will feature networking drinks and guest speeches from entrepreneur Ben Duncan and Dr Sally Ernst, an international investor and entrepreneur who mentors at the London School of Business.