Experienced alumni mentors play a pivotal role in a student entrepreneur's chance of succeeding. Establishing a mentor network can be challenging, but pay dividends for your startup program. I can help to start that mentor oureach and create an effective communication structure.
Establishing a formal entrepreneurial mentorship program is a fantastic way to create a two-way relationship between your entrepreneurial alumni and the next generation of student entrepreneurs. There's no shortage of research that will tell you how exponentially more successful a startup will be if they receive mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs. But there's also much to be gained for a university's startup center as well. Let's take a look at all three sides of this equation.
By the very nature of being student entrepreneurs, they are inexperienced. They have passion, creativity, and energy - all great assets to becoming a successful entrepreneur - but lack the tacit knowledge that comes with starting a company, navigating through road bumps (and sometimes roadblocks), and continuing onward with their entrepreneurial journey. For a student, being able to discuss their budding business with someone who has been around the block a few times is invaluable. A thoughtful mentor can help a student entrepreneur avoid countless beginner pitfalls, keep them focused on their pressing tasks, and even open up their network to the student when appropriate.
There are a variety of reasons for a mentor to get involved in a mentoring program. According to a study conducted by University of Michigan's Ross School of Business (link), the top motiviations are staying in touch with their field, gaining recognition from their university, and just a desire to give back to their community. Other benefits can include access to university networking events + job fairs in order to potentially hire these talented students. In my experience, most mentors want to get involved for altruistic purposes. They realize how hard it is being an entrepreneur. Hell, they might've been student entrepreneurs themselves without all of the resources currently available. They strive to give back by paying their experience forward.
As the middleman for these connections, a university stands to benefit from making successful ones. University Development /Alumni Engagement Offices are always looking for ways to provide meaningful opportunities for alumni to give back to their university. Entrepreneurial alumni (especially the successful ones) are also prime targets for donation campaigns. But before that big ask can be made, it helps if the alumni has had a recent positive engagement with the university. At Johns Hopkins, we were able to increase our Spring 2020 Demo Day prize pool from $10,000 to $30,000 thanks to generous alumni support after they had recently become involved with our office in a mentoring capacity.
Get in touch with me today to begin building the foundation of your department's mentorship program.