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The FLoW Mentoring ProgramApply Today
Thank you for volunteering your time and expertise to help these young entrepreneurs realize their dreams in starting a company. You will be joining over 70 experts from industry, finance, Academia and the service industry who mentored teams during FLoW's first year.
As our way of saying thank you, we extend an invitation to all our mentors to attend the Regional Awards Judging and Celebration at the University of Southern California, May 7, 2013, as our guest.
The FLoW mentoring program achieves two goals:
- Providing contestants with expert guidance in starting
- Growing companies and to encourage young innovators to become the entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow.
Mentors are expected to work closely with teams to help them define their business model, formalize their business structure, acquire resources, build their team and in general, help them align their approach towards meeting business goals.
By Round 3, finalists should have either incorporated or be in the process, defined their IP strategy and begun the process, prepared a workable business plan and be practiced in giving a winning presentation.
However, FLoW projects range widely, from transformational ideas to business ready companies. Many of these young people are new to the world of business but intensely interested in the entrepreneurial process. Mentors typically find it rewarding to guide these young innovators, and to foster their excitement about eventually starting their own technology business. With this in mind, the mentor's role here is to counsel, not direct. Mentors serve the teams well by acting as a sounding board and questioning assumptions, and helping them to define priorities.
The Matching Processback to top
After a team is accepted as a semi-finalist in the competition (deadline: February 10, 2013) they will be strongly encouraged to seek mentorship by filling out their profile. Mentors similarly create their descriptors online. FLoW will use a matching system to pair mentors with student teams based on the mentor's expertise and field of interest, the cleantech sector, geographic location, the team's state needs, and company stage of development. Teams will be drawn from throughout the Western Region, which includes Alaska, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa and Guam.
In joining, the FLoW mentors commit to supporting the program throughout the FLoW competitive process.
Mentoring Areas of Expertiseback to top
Mentors may be asked to help with any of these areas:
- Completing and refining the business model/plan
- Product validation
- Completing and refining the pitch presentation
- Team Building
- Introduction to investors
- Market and customer identification
- Business Development: how to implement the sales process
- Financial Planning: seeking investment, capital use
- Intellectual Property
- Technology development and validation
FLoW Mentorship Rolesback to top
There are two types of FLoW Mentors and you may select your preferred category.
Lead Mentors will be assigned to one team for the duration of the competition and we ask that you try to meet at least once, to set goals and milestones, and in general get to know each other. Mentors then should give a minimum of two hours a week for the duration of the competition, although this is a matter of the mentor's choice. Lead mentors provide general support and feedback across all areas of the business. Every effort will be made to match lead mentors with teams in your locale.
Mentors will be matched as soon as possible after the close of submissions on February 10, 2013.
- Coach Teams through business model development and business plan and presentation preparation
- Provide feedback on all aspects of the business
- Make connections to key resources
- Liaise with specialist mentors to provide a cohesive program of support for the teams
- Help team develop product concept and identify market
- Time commitment: (recommended) a minimum of 8 hours a month.
Specialist Mentors can be assigned to more than one team in the competition and asked to mentor in one specific area, based on their expertise.
Specialist mentors may be needed only periodically and this commitment generally suits those with very busy schedules. Most matchups will occur in the weeks immediately following the close of submissions but competitors may request mentoring, at later stages of the competition.
- Financial: Provide deep expertise in key functional areas including finance (financial modeling, P&L development, financial performance benchmarking, capital use)
- Marketing: Help with identifying niche market, customer base, positioning statement, pricing, value proposition development
- Strategic Partnering: identifying potential strategic partners, strategy for negotiations
- Presentation: Work with team to hone presentation skills and marketing messaging
- Team Building: helping the students define the roles needed to establish and then grow the venture; facilitate decision-making about filling the corporate roles ( e.g. CEO, CTO, marketing)
- Engineering: product development, architecture, innovative designs, designs for manufacturability
- Fund Raising: strategic approach, timing, corporate valuation, types of offers, Friends & Family vs. Angels or VCs
- Time Commitment: Strategic Mentors may be called upon throughout the competition to work with multiple teams in their particular area of expertise; the time commitment to each will vary, depending on the team's needs but the mentors set the schedule, according to their availability.
Rules and Guidelinesback to top
(Adapted from Cleantech Open guidelines, 2011)
- For the duration of the competition you must not contact any of the competition judges.
- The Mentor can only sign Non -Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) on their own behalf, not the competition's
- Mentors cannot become officers of the company, act as employees, join a company advisory board or acquire a financial interest in the company during the competition. However, once the National Competition (June 2013) is completed, the teams can form any business arrangement that is appropriate for their business.
- Lead Mentors cannot advise competing companies in the same category
Mentoring Tipsback to top
- Set an agreed period for working together, to avoid the mentorship becoming an open-ended arrangement. That is unfair on your time!
- Help teams recognize when they need to bring in other resources, including other mentors. This will be an important to help them understand their own limitations and how to build a supportive network.
- Help teams set and meet goals and milestones.
How to meet your teamback to top
FLoW will hold mentor matchups in the Los Angeles area where you will be able to meet student teams, and other mentors in valuable networking sessions. FLoW will also encourage other FLoW nodes in the Western Region to hold similar networking events.
More Informationback to top
For more information about mentoring contact the FLoW Office:
Stephanie Yanchinski, Executive Director, tel. 626-395-1968 (o) 626-818-5092 (cp), email@example.com .