Speed Mentoring

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Ever since we started dotForge, we’ve been doing our mentoring sessions in a particular way: Speed Mentoring. As you probably guessed from the name given its similarity with “Speed Dating”, it consists on sitting down on a table for 20 minutes where you get to pitch your idea, get feedback and ask for any resource the mentor/investor in front of you could help you with.

Panoramic pic: Speed Mentoring in action!
Panoramic pic: Speed Mentoring in action!

The benefits are quite clear, and as much as sometimes you are (I have to admit at the beginning I was) a bit skeptical about it. And sometimes I still am, when I can feel my brain melting down.

But stepping back and looking into it from a purely objective view (like not thinking about what does it feel like) it makes absolute sense.

  • You get to improve your pitch. You literally get your pitch on steroids. You’re being timed, you’re under pressure, there are constraints, you have to go right to the point, don’t mess around. You’ll fuck up, but you’ll learn quick enough as well.
  • Given the last point, if the mentor/investor still doesn’t get your idea, you either have to refine it, or refine your pitch. Comes down to the elevator pitch yet again. Why to waste anyone’s time (and your own) when you can get your pitch tested in 3 minutes and then have homework to do on your own?
  • The tight schedule makes possible to meet certain amount of people you could not get access to if it was not that structured. It’s simple, we all get chatty, we all loose track of time… But not if someone is poking you on the shoulder to move on.
  • If you need further mentoring, it’s as simple as crossing a few emails. On those 20 minutes you’ve probably seen how you could engage with a given mentor, if he likes your idea enough and you think there’s value on him, why would you not take him out for lunch? I did this with Tim Nash last week, and we did not only have a great time, but it was equally useful. Good mentors love listening to new ideas, there’s no reason why they would not say yes. And you don’t need to buy caviar… a good enough english pub made it for Tim and Me.

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Now, obviously, there are side-effects to this, and from my experience these are:

  • It drains your energy, it’s been 3 hours but you feel like you’ve been 5 days in that room.
  • When it starts going wrong, you don’t have time to stop and re-think, hence next “date” is likely to be even worse.
  • You really have to be fast classifying feedback, otherwise it starts piling up and you are loosing the benefit of meeting so many mentors in such a short period of time.

From my perspective, as much as those are “side effects”, I really think they still are positive facts (well, only if you ask me when I feel positive 😛 ),because it probably is the most similar situation to running a startup on the real life that you could find, where you are not testing ideas but wasting investing time (=money) on them… but am not talking about 20 minutes,  or even one morning, we are talking about months worth of work, and we all know that has happened before.

Speed Mentoring is something that, as far as I’m aware, TechStars does, as well as Springboard (aka TechStars London) as introduced by Jon Bradford. And of course, we do it here at dotForge .

Just trying to find something on Google I could reach out to this article that seems interesting on that area, but if any of you my beloved readers have any better experience/input please share it with me!

Have a good week y’all Pitches!

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