Mentoring opportunities

  • DC I-Corps works primarily with entrepreneurs in University and Federal research labs in the greater Washington area.

  • These are teams with inventions and IP with commercial applications

  • All of the entrepreneurs have been through DC I-Corps’ five-week lean methodology program to explore their product-market fit.  They have determined that they have scalable and innovative opportunities and are eager to commercialize them.

  • Many of the entrepreneurs are scientists with limited business experience, eager to build a team and grow their business, and learn from experienced and successful start-up and business executives.

 

Mentor characteristics

The DC I-Corps Accelerator functions best with a pool of mentors with operating executive backgrounds. The experience set may be a mix of corporate executives and serial founding entrepreneurs, as well as specialists in law, technical matters, medicine, education, military, and so on.  Mentors can be from a mix of industries, especially mentors who may advise for customer target markets or industry alliances.

 

Mentor matches

The mentors assign themselves depending on their interests or areas of expertise. Though the Accelerator assists matching appropriate mentors and entrepreneurs, the decision to form a relationship remains with the prospective mentor and entrepreneur. On occasion the Accelerator may not have the appropriate resources and may have to decline a request for assistance.

 

Guidelines

Mentors agree to minimum participation requirements.  Additionally, to keep an environment of trust with entrepreneurs, mentors sign conflict of interest forms relating to investment and solicitation of services.  Should those relationships form over the course of mentoring, the mentor would recuse him/herself from the mentoring relationship.

Mentors will generally meet once monthly at an Accelerator networking lunch with other mentors, and once monthly with each team they mentor.

 

How does the mentoring process work?

Once a mentor has been accepted and enrolled, there will be a short orientation session. We hold monthly meetings where mentors will be introduced to a list of ventures needing assistance. Mentors will select the companies they are interested in working with.  A lead mentor is assigned to be the primary point of contact and unbiased ear for each team.

When a team is assembled, the entrepreneur will request a first mentoring session. The initial meeting may be with one mentor or with multiple mentors, depending upon the current status of the venture, the needs, and mentor availability. Meeting frequency is up to the venture but average frequency may be once a month initially, and further apart at later stages. Mentoring content is often practical, operationally-oriented, and focused on helping the venture set and get through critical short term milestones.

Every venture is unique in its status, needs, trajectory and priorities. There is no single set process; each mentoring process is necessarily custom crafted. There is an ebb and flow to session activity. There may be times with multiple intensive sessions over a short time span to help crystallize strategy and plans. And there will be times when meetings are less frequent as the venture executes those plans.

 

How long does the mentoring process last?

Since the relationship between entrepreneurs and mentors is voluntary, the relationship may last as long as it is beneficial to both parties. The nature of the mentoring, and the composition of the mentoring teams may change over time as the needs of the venture change. There may also be breaks in time where a venture needs less assistance, and returns to the service at a later date.