Sramana Mitra: Entrepreneur Dysfunctions in Cartoons – How Do You Engage Great Mentors?

ATN-300InsightaaS: One of the more interesting initiatives supporting new entrepreneurs is Sramana Mitra’s One Million by One Million initiative. We recently featured a post from the 1M/1M blog on ‘fat startups‘; today, we’re featuring one of Mitra’s LinkedIn posts, on engaging mentors.

The post starts with a cartoon in which a mentor is (gently) chided for coming “to the rescue of victory.” Mitra makes the point that mentors – or early stage capital sources, since she combines both into a broad “investors” category – are looking for “compelling investment opportunities”, and that most early-stage entrepreneurs are not “there” yet. She believes that mentors (like capital) should be viewed as applying in stages; that entrepreneurs need early-stage mentors, so that they succeed enough to attract the “second level of mentors” who, like the cartoon character, “come the the rescue of victory.”

What do entrepreneurs need to do to prepare adequately for discussions with potential sources of help? Mitra suggests defining the nature of help required, and building a pitch that is compelling and detailed enough so that a potential investor/mentor will understand how money can be made from a new initiative. In an accompanying video, she hits key themes, such as “entrepreneurship is not about funding…it is about customers, revenue and profit;” and “less than 1% of entrepreneurs get funded…[but] the other 99% can also succeed.”

One Million by One Million is Mitra’s passion, and a fair amount of both the post and the video are dedicated to its promotion. However, there is value in the message regardless of whether you are interested in joining the 1M/1M client roster – entrepreneurs can use good advice wherever it appears, and this post/video (/cartoon!) contains enough to make it worthwhile to review.

First, here, meet a great mentor!

Entrepreneurs around the world are searching for great mentors who can show them the ropes of how to short-circuit their entrepreneurial journeys.

Engaging mentors is a tricky thing. Mentors – unless they have an emotional investment in you (friends, family, former boss) – tend to want to only work with entrepreneurs who have compelling businesses, can score substantial funding, and yield solid exits.

Typically, these are potential advisors who want to be compensated in equity in your business, or potential investors who want to invest in it. Either way, they want to invest time, or money, or both. Let’s call them investors.

Investors, by definition, look for compelling investment opportunities…

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