Over the last few months I have met with several startups looking for mentors and advisors. Many were either looking to startup or had just recently ventured on their own. I had a discussion with a few of them on what they were looking for. Most of these folks were first time entrepreneurs who had not been at a startup before.
My informal survey of a few people from that group indicated the following things they wanted from an advisor:
1. Help fund the company – 30%
2. Open doors to VCs, angel investors or potential customers – 40%
3. Provide industry knowledge and expertise – 10%
4. Product direction / market knowledge / hiring – 20%
Most of these actually seem like “tasks” or “activities”. This seems to indicate that most potential entrepreneurs want an “consultant” or “connector” on board but they really cannot afford to hire someone full time – or they dont need a full time person.
In my capacity as advisor, I think the only thing that I focus on is to give the entrepreneur confidence:
1. Confidence that they can be a good entrepreneur.
2. Confidence that they can raise money even if they have not done it before.
3. Confidence that they can hire people much smarter than themselves.
4. Confidence to take on a significant project from a large customer and deliver.
5. Confidence that they are ready to launch on their own even if they are fresh out of college.
The advisor’s networks, money, connections and knowledge are incidental.
P.S: I am not actively taking any more advisory positions and in fact am resigning from a few I am on currently.
[Guest article by Mukund Mohan, a serial entrepreneur who last exited from Buzzgain.]