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Startups must have mentors to succeed, says experts

Monica Mishra | Updated on February 07, 2018 Published on February 07, 2018

As India has accorded priority to the startup sector and a growing number of youngsters are expected to turn startup entrepreneurs, experts have advised start up founders to have mentors for taking informed decisions and to succeed.

Experts believe that the role of a mentor is very crucial for the success of startups. A mentor could be your investor or anyone who has the same vision as that of the founder or who has been in the industry for long enough to know its ways.

“Entrepreneurs should look for an investor who is also a mentor. If I could have changed my entrepreneurial journey, I could have sought out more mentors,” said Kunal Bahl, co-founder & CEO, Snapdeal at the E-Summit held at IIT Bombay recently.

“Without mentors you end up making so many mistakes. My resume has so many mistakes and I could have avoided it if I had good guidance, counseling and good mentoring,” Bahl said.

“If I didn’t have a mentor, it was my fault. I didn’t seek them out. But as I have grown enough gray hair, now I realize the value of mentorship,” he added.

A mentor could help in hiring, which investors to take on board, get the company valued, how to structure the ESOP plan, he said adding “A true mentor gives you advice without expecting anything in return and there are always many people like that. You have to work very hard to find a good mentor.”

Bahl said often the investors were also the mentors. “Many times if you have the right investor, that person will also be a great mentor and not all your investors are mentors. More often, one of your three or five investors is a true mentor whom you can call up at 11 pm and chat about personal matters and also can discuss more serious things,” he added.

According to experts a mentor helps you see where you are and where the business is headed at. The mentor teaches you patience and to remain sane through tough times, provide valuable inputs and advice, provide direction, find opportunities and broaden your horizon.

Ash Singh who teaches entrepreneurship & family enterprise at Singapore based INSEAD Business School believes that no successful entrepreneur had succeeded without a mentor.

“You succeed because you sit on the shoulders of a giant. It is very important to have a mentor,” Adjunct Professor Singh said while addressing a session at the E-Summit in Mumbai.

“Every entrepreneur needs a guide who will help take appropriate decisions. There is wisdom that needs to be tapped,” he said,

So how do you find a good mentor? If one has a startup and no money how will one find a good mentor?

“Good mentors are looking for entrepreneurs to share their experiences and feel happy to make other successful. Its not about money, its about the relationship,” he said.

“A lot of successful people are very lonely, they are very guarded people and you can create relationships with them and gain their experiences. Getting those people around and having them to talk to you is the best part. There are some brilliant people in the planet, people who can guide you properly and who can be good mentors,” he added.

He said “Entrepreneurship is not about building a company and selling it, it is about the personal journey of the entrepreneur and the best way is to find a mentor that who will tell you what is good or bad. You don’t spend money on mentors or mentors don’t charge much to share experiences. You might take them to a restaurant and gain experiences and take better decisions.”

Mentors guide you and also tell you if you are doing anything wrong and that is the best part of their role.

(Monica Mishra is second year Mass Media student at Mithibai College, Mumbai)

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Published on February 07, 2018

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