Hey, I'm building https://SparrowStartup.com/.
I'll keep this one brief and if there's enough interest in such topics, I'll be sure to post more. I'm currently building a founder mentorship platform in public, getting mentors onboard who are a good fit for growth-stage founders looking for guidance.
As a result of this, I've come in contact with some early-stage founders who've shown interest and other founders in my process of interviews. Here's the main two things I learned from building a network of trusted advisors for startups:
- Do not be afraid to ask tough questions - When onboarding our advisors, in the beginning I wasn't sure what to ask / how to ask and was worried that my questions might come off too strong. With time however, I realized that not asking the burning questions in an onboarding interview can actually result in getting the wrong mentors for the platform -> which would inevitably result in bad experiences for founders needing help.
- There's no wrong / dumb question if you phrase it correctly and tune it to your audience
- Do 15 mins of homework on what you know about a person and their company as this will help you ask more detailed and informed questions.
- Quality over quantity - In the beginning, in order to solve the chicken-and-egg problem (since Sparrow is a marketplace) I wanted to onboard xx number of startup mentors ASAP. Then with time, I realized that the mentors who may be most suited to help growth-stage startups may actually need more time to gather because of several reasons. And so I learned to snipe (choose wisely) as opposed to spraying (cold emailing powerful people in business who may not be as good at mentorship) because again, a bad selection of mentors may result in founders getting low-quality, wrong advice.
- Depending on your product, your funnel and your type of business, it may be worthwhile to focus on searching for prospects who bring more value over time, as opposed to those who bring mediocre value. This is HIGHLY dependent on your context of business and may actually NOT apply to you, so think wisely and think twice before following this advice.
- Ask for referrals. If you spend 30-mins writing a personal email for someone, they reply but are not a good fit for your company, ask them if they know 1-2 people who you believe would be a good fit for you. Why? Because you already sold yourself (successfully) to someone who spent 20 mins with you on a call. Why not leverage this for a more fruitful connection who may be a great fit for what you're looking for?
Did you find this useful? Are there startup mentors that you wish you could speak with? Let me know in the comments below so we can bring them to your table so you can have an open, honest chat about your biggest challenges. 👇