9 strategies to maximize the value of mentor meetings

I have been spending a bunch of time with the teams at Techstars Seattle.  It is exciting to see all the progress as we approach demo day on Nov 3, where all the teams show off their companies and plans for world domination.Here are a few things that I have tried and/or learned from the entrepreneurs that can make most of these mentor meetings:

  • Start every meeting with;
    • what you want to focus on – usually no more than 3 things
    • only give me background which is material to the topics to be discussed
  • For each topic area;
    • Brief summary of the situation (e.g. we are finalizing our term sheet, have 4 angels interested, have talked to 4 mentors and 2 attorneys about issue X)
    • What decision are you trying to make? (e.g. should we give a greater warrant coverage for people who put money in before Demo day or not?)
    • What have other people have said? (Jonathan said “yes”, Bob said “no” and we are looking for your input)
    • Listen and respond with “that’s useful, we will take that into consideration” or “can you explain more…” – you should not feel pressure to make a decision then or agree/disagree or even argue the point.  Take the input and move on to the next topic.
  • At the end of the meeting,
    • verbally summarize what you heard/learned (helps you both think you made good progress)
    • ask for more input if you need it – “based on what we have discussed, it would be great to get more input on topic X, is there someone else you think we should talk to and can you make the intro”
    • include these discussions in your ongoing status reports to your mentors, advisors… All the teams that I am working with are using http://www.thinkfuse.com/ with great success

Rinse and repeat with the next mentor, advisor, investor…the faster you can move through this, the more input you will get.Focused questions will get you specific answers.BTW if you are an angel investor or VC reading this and want to come to demo day, sign up here

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