Importance of Mentorship for an Entrepreneur

In India there is a significant supply side demand for smaller angel investors who can invest in the promising start-ups. Many start-ups in the non-biotechnology or non-manufacturing segment may not require big time angel investments, but might be more suitable for smaller initial or seed capital. Whereas there is an overall slack from the supply side when it comes to providing seed capital on smaller scale in India, there is also dearth of proper mentorship and incubation facilities for the fledgling start-ups. For the entrepreneurial zeal that India is witnessing today in almost all spaces, it is very important to scale up the mentorship programs and the incubation facilities, so that the entrepreneurship flourishes. The value of mentorship and its advantages for the start-ups cannot be measured. Still I have tried to point out a few obvious advantages below:

The Wisdom of Experience:

Been there; done that holds true with the corporate honchos, CEOs or the serial entrepreneurs who have exited successfully after selling their ventures. Their road to richness and corporate experience is an epic by itself which is endorsed with the fact that they have done it all properly. Ideas are a dime many, but what probably makes or breaks a start-up most of the time is the process implementation and the execution of the strategies. The inputs of the CEOs and/or the successful entrepreneurs for execution and strategy are invaluable. Any strategy or process implementation glitches can prove disastrous, especially for a young start-up.

The Magic Baton of Network:

The successful and/or serial entrepreneurs, CEOs and the like have the experience of going through the entire cycle of forming a company and have the experience of controlling all the functions of a company through thick and thin. The vast network that these corporate bellwethers form while traversing their journeys is something that can be cashed upon. The young start-ups may find it extremely difficult or it may take them very long to get access to this goldmine otherwise.

Smart Principles of Leadership:

Leadership is one important management skill which is required of any corporate head, no matter what stage the company is in. Though leadership can be taught, not all of it can be necessarily learnt in a class-room set-up. It needs real-time real world experience. Leadership comes with confidence and confidence comes with experience. Only when the principles of leadership that are learnt, are put into practice time and again into different scenarios, do the leadership skills keep getting smarter. [Though to some extent we have to consider individual personality types too while judging one’s leadership skills]. This is where the mentorship can prove to be a prized asset. The experience and guidance from the CEOs and successful entrepreneurs, with the real world scenario for the young start-up entrepreneurs, can prove to be a harbouring ground for many success stories in the unfolding.

Providing mentorship alone is not a practical thing but if it is combined and presented as a de-facto service of investor circles and incubation centres, then it becomes a more valuable proposition. I see the complete proposition in the three legs of any angel network or incubation facility infrastructure, mentorship and seed capital. If any of these three legs is missing the system stands like a tri-pod stool with two legs! It can never be complete and will not be entirely useful. Presently there are networks and incubation centres which usually lack either the mentorship or the seed capital investment. India needs more such incubation centres which can provide all the three legs to nurture more start-ups.

Mridula VelagapudiAbout Mridula: Mridula is a freelance writer. She writes on Entrepreneurship and has worked for a start-up in the past. To know more check out her profile at LinkedIn/Mridula Velagapudi

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  1. Mridula

    Extremely well articulated. My own take, as a serial entrepreneur with an exit and now a “seed funder” , is that it is only now that we are seeing more and more first generation indian entrepreneurs (people who have built businesses in India) crossing the divide and sitting on the other side as mentors/investors.

    Thankfully we will see more and more of this in the years to come as more exits start happening and that will lead to the creation of an eco system of the start-mentor-grow-exit which will lead to more and more people starting. We have all heard of the famous tipping point theory (which is what happened in the valley) and as more and more successes and role models are created we will see this void getting filled up.

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