The startup advisor

November 1, 2007 at 7:15 am Leave a comment

David Cohen has a great article on finding and engaging great mentors.  I read this article about three times because I am currently a technical advisor to a couple of local startups. I gladly accepted the role of technical advisor for three reasons:

1.  my passion is around developing  software from concept to product and I just could not pass up the chance to be part of that action

2.  it gives me an opportunity to solidify my experience  as an advisor to startup companies specializing in technical aspects of the product and

3.  to give back to other aspiring entrepreneurs because the local community has been more than generous with its advice whenever I have needed it. 

I can’t say enough about the last point, the local entrepreneurs’ generosity with advice; my involvement with the Boulder entrepreneur community started when I walked into on the local uber-entrepreneur/investor’s offices to run my idea by him. An hour later I left his office with a several notebook pages full of constructive and critical advice for my idea.  We emailed a few times after that and the rest is history. My experience with great, generous advisors did not end there.  During TechStars, each team was introduced to an advisor. Our advisor was not only a source of great wealth of information that has undoubtedly been instrumental to our success today but he was also a great example of an advisor who possesses some of the latent qualities of an advisor that I, as a technical advisor,  hope to develop over time. I also hope that aspiring entrepreneurs will look for these qualities in their advisors. These qualities are: 

Commitment

Our advisor met with us once a week. He was usually the first one at the meetings and the last one to leave. He made sure that he gave us 100% of his time and attention. In addition, we could call or email him anytime. 

Interest/Excitement

I was sold on our advisor when he started to use the word “we” on the second meeting.  By using the word “we”, it opened up the communication door immensely. We were able to communicate in a two way conversational manner because he was part of the team and we felt like we were all collaborating towards the same goal.  He showed the same excitement for our product as we had. 

Educational

During our weekly meeting, I hardly lifted my pen of the page because I was busy writing everything that he was saying because he presented all the advice and information in a very educational manner. I left the meeting feeling like I could go and teach a class on whatever subject we had discussed that day.  

Product knowledge

Our advisor took time to educate himself the concept of our product.  We did not have to constantly have to remind him of the terms that we use in our product or the names of our components because during the first couple of meetings he took time to learn about or product and how it worked. And not only our product but our market and the various players in the market and how their products work. 

Evangelist

As an entrepreneur, it helps if you have a person who can help you tell your story.  Our advisor helped us a great deal as an ambassador for our product to third parties. 

Needless to say, these are some of the qualities of our TechStars  advisor that remarkably enriched my experience.  In my capacity as the technical advisor for the local startups that I mentioned earlier,  I am hoping to take a page out of our TechStars advisor’s book so that I can also deliver a remarkably enriching experience while imparting valuable advice.

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Entry filed under: Startups.

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