Mentors and advisors are essential for startups. The best mentors are often successful founders who have already led companies through a period of rapid growth. Some angel investors will add value and play the role of mentors, but many founders actively seek out independent advisors.
Here are some ideas for founders:
- Start with a few good mentors and create a “career path” for some to become formal advisors
- Ask advisors to invest some money in order to align interests (it can be a small amount below the minimum you require of other investors)
- Consider setting up equity incentives with vesting for advisors, but only after working with them and confirming their dedication and ability to add value
Many founders add a slide with mentors or advisors to investor pitch decks. It shows a willingness to seek out help and build a world-class team.
When Nicolas Mendoza began Rebajatuscuentas.com, he reached out to Pedro Neira, of MiMediaManzana, to ask him to become an advisor. Because Nicolas had known Pedro for eight years previously, it made sense to have Pedro become a formal advisor from day one, to help with strategic decision-making and offer guidance for capital raising. Nicolas asked Pedro to commit to monthly meetings, calls every two weeks and introductions to potential investors in exchange for economic incentives based on pre-determined milestones.
Here are some good practices that Nicolas has put in place for Pedro:
- Meetings during lunch
- Set meeting dates four weeks ahead of time
- Detailed long-term workplan with economic incentives
Nicolas now has a great advisor in Pedro that he can call – even in the middle of the night 🙂 – without feeling like he is asking for a favor.
Here is a great thread with some additional insights on finding a mentor or advisor.