Mentorship is a crucial part of growing a budding startup into a thriving business and selecting the right mentor(s) can be just as much like dating as is finding co-founders. To emphasize the importance of this matching process and shine a light on some of its intricacies, last week R9 Accelerator 3+ hosted long-time startup guru, mentor and investor Dave Moskovitz.

Dave’s role during his session at R9 Accelerator 3+ was to preface a mentor ‘speed dating and match-making’ session with other prominent New Zealand mentors coming to meet with the teams. Dave’s presentation focused on teaching the teams how to select and build a connection with a mentor and also how to lock down the relationship.

Teams learned that when looking for a mentor, they should do their background research – knowing who is in the room, their skills and experience and how that might fill the team’s own skill gaps. Also important was a team’s ability to sell their vision to a mentor to ensure a mentor gets bang for their buck in working on an interesting project. Lastly, Dave instructed the teams that most importantly, they should look for mentors that will help take them further, faster.

Following on from Dave’s session was the actual mentor/team match-making evening. Here in rounds of eight minutes each, teams became introduced to some of R9 Accelerator 3+ mentors, who included Scott Champion, Ian Fay, Kristene Lee, Anna Guenther, Hamish Clark, Jon Batt, Will Young, Sunit Prakash, Brett Holland, Justin Douché, Kristene Lee, and Mike Thomton.

After the event, we spoke with Neal from Go to Work on Mental Health to see how the process went.

How did Go to Work on Mental Health prepare for the mentor event?

When we prepared, we made a list of needed skills our group is missing. We went over the list of people who were going to be there and picked out who would possibly be the best fit for those gaps.

Where do you think a mentor could add the most value to your team?

Particularly because we are in the social sector, we needed someone with domain expertise. We looked at people who are experts in the mental health field since we really don’t have that in our team yet.

How did the mentor event go?

The mentor event went rather well. It was really interesting to listen to all the mentors, they were some smart folks. We did have some of our ideas and assumptions ripped down, which proved a little disheartening, but also has been efficient, since these mentors have a lot more expertise in the area. Much of what they ripped down we probably needed to get rid of anyway. It was a very good learning experience.

How do you plan to follow up with the mentors you spoke to?

We’ll send awesome follow up emails expressing our interest in talking to specific mentors further. We hope to set up meetings with our choices as soon as possible, to keep the momentum going.