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Ask HN: How to attract a mentor?
5 points by styler 1865 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments
I'm sure that quite a few of you had a great idea, got it going under your own steam but then began to struggle with direction, strategy, scaling, volume of admin, addiction to Angry Birds, coffee bean budget, whatever. Then you found a mentor, who helped you get past that or those problems and now everything is going swimmingly.

To those of you - how did you find or manage to attract that person? Did they come to you? Did you have to get down on your knees and beg? Did you make promises, sign your life away?

I'd love to know! I founded Not a Bad Dad earlier this year. It's still a tiny shadow of what I've got planned, and the reception has been great so far, but I'm struggling to figure out what to do next and how to do it. Would love to find someone who's been here before!

My 2 cents... definitely start with warm leads. Reach out to your network of friends, colleagues, etc, and ask them if they know of any good mentors in your related field. It can be as general as "I'm looking for an experienced entrepreneur" or it can be as specific as "I'm looking for someone who knows how to setup a cap table". Next step - Ask your contacts to make an email introduction for you. Now here's the key. Have humility. Your response to the introduction should be sincere and appreciative. Assuming you're looking for financing advice, you might try something like this:

"Hi <Name> - It's very nice to (virtually) meet you. As <your contact's name> mentioned, I just started my own company, and I'm looking for some mentorship/guidance on financing my venture. I understand that you have some deep experience in Venture Capital.

My question is... would you be willing to meet with me for coffee to give me your perspective on financing entrepreneurship, where angel comes in, where VC comes in, and perhaps how we should lay the foundation for VC in the future? Please let me know! I'd really appreciate it."

Make sure you're thoughtful about the request. I wouldn't just say "I'm looking for your help to get funded." Ask about their perspective, and definitely make sure you ask for a face-to-face meeting, though you might have to settle for over the phone. You'll be surprised how many people will accept the request in the spirit of "giving back" and "paying it forward".

I'm interested in learning this too. I was just looking at Slideshare's case and learned the following:

In this talk the founders mention how they were "outsiders" located in the Valley without much connection, and that their initial angels and advisors were their attorneys or those who had tried their service and were impressed by its utilities. http://siliconangle.com/blog/2010/02/24/slideshare-founders-...

In the first ever Techcrunch article about them, Michael Arrington mentions Ross Mayfield (VP of Biz Dev at Slideshare) made the intro. http://techcrunch.com/2006/10/04/introducing-slideshare-powe... This was Oct 2006.

It took them some time to get connected to the advisors: started the company in 2006, got advisors in 2007 - 2008. See http://www.crunchbase.com/company/slideshare and http://www.amitranjan.com/2007/07/05/slideshare-news-welcomi...

Of course I'm only studying the surface, but in their case 1) useful product that the mentors would use (businesspeople use slides) 2) well-connected team member 3) time and persistence seemed to have helped.

skaipa - thanks for that - definitely something I've not taken advantage of so far. The "giving it back" spirit is really interesting...

good luck!

Read "The Symposium" by Plato.

and rc4algorithm - I have that in a bookcase somewhere!

keywonc - intriguing links. Will investigate - thanks!

Shoot me an email.

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