The FLoW Mentoring Program
Requesting a Mentor
Mentors are considered essential to the growth of your enterprise and core to the FLoW program and your willingness and commitment to working with your mentors will be considered at each judging round. For those progressing to Round 2 (once you have submitted the request form) you will be assigned a Lead Mentor based on your profile so it is important to make the profile as complete and accurate as possible. (Profile form).
Throughout the process you will also be assigned one or more one or more Specialist Mentors as needed, using the FLoW system. You can obtain these specialist mentors either by signing up online or by contacting the FLoW office directly.
FLoW will also host at least one mentor "matchup" networking event (check the FLoW calendar) where you will be able to meet prospective mentors and establish your own relationship. If you already work with such advisers, it will be important to clearly indicate that on the application form.
FLoW will periodically check in with contestants about how well the mentoring relationship is working and if necessary, reassign mentors. Your interactions will be a factor considered by judges in reviewing your venture's progress.
FLoW Mentorship Roles
Lead Mentors will be assigned to one team for the duration of the competition. Lead mentors provide general support and feedback across all areas of the business.
Lead Mentor Roles:
- 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
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 Mentor Roles:
- 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
Step 1: Complete the online Mentorship Request Form which includes your profile and submit as soon as possible after notified of acceptance February 10, 2013.
Step 2: Getting Started - arrange a first meeting with your Lead Mentor, and set a schedule as well as agreed milestones and goals; if your mentor is not local, then consider setting up a SKYPE connection. This will be particularly important for working on the presentation as you progress.
Step 3: Meet at least once every two weeks; speak one hour per week.
Mentee Rules and Guidelines
- Your mentor is giving you time, confidence, and experience. Respect this and prepare thoroughly before you meet or contact your mentor.
- Optimize the use of your mentor's time. Use your mentor for high level advice, contacts and help.
- Set up times when your mentor agrees to receive your calls or meet with you at an acceptable frequency of contact. Do not phone outside those agreed times and keep the frequency of your calls and meetings well within the limits you have agreed.
- For the duration of the competition you must not contact or ask your mentor to 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 is completed, the teams can form any business arrangement that is appropriate for their business.
Tips for Mentees
- Finish each meeting by setting next steps, and focus on the judging criteria and Round 3 goals as keys to making fast progress.
- Attend as many of the best practices and informational workshops, and office hours as possible, as they will give you a wealth of background of information and provide help with the special issues of your particular business
- Find ways to reward your mentors e.g. with sharing learning and with introductions.