An Evening at Founders Institute, NYC: Mentoring Entrepreneurs

Recently, I spend an evening mentoring some of the brightest entrepreneurs at Founders Institute (FI) NYC. This was a real opportunity to meet a handful of creative and energetic founders at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey in a relaxed setting. While one founder had the idea to democratize corporate access, the next one has found early traction by becoming a uber for diamonds purchase and yet another one is busy on the alpha launch of a new app that can become a beacon for media integrity.

Each of the founders had their own flavor of presenting themselves, their products, the challenges they are addressing and how they plan to grow. As mentors we got the opportunity to rate the trifecta of 3Ps product, pitch and the person running the show, and provide constructive feedback on each of the tenets. The mentors also answered any questions or concerns the founders may have. The evening was well facilitated by the Managing Director for FI’s NYC chapter Kevin Siskar.

Fellow mentors and the start-up founders also helped me remember key pains of entrepreneurship. It is extremely difficult for new and inexperienced founders to shift from their original ideas into new ones and know how best to take feedback from early users or convert the feedback to valuable features for monetization. One of the mentors shared her own story of how it took her almost two years to hone her product and pitch before attracting dedicated early users and investors. I got to share my experiences and wisdom and also provide critical feedback on various aspects of the business models that can be tweaked for gaining essential traction and how best to pitch to investors.

This is the slide deck I used for a quick presentation to share my experiences and thoughts on how starting with customer outcomes can help a cross functional team do faster product delivery and gain necessary traction. These concepts are essential for early validation and subsequent growth. While it may seem like an overkill when you just have an idea, all these basics become immediately relevant as you start putting together a team to convert your ideas into meaningful products and amazing businesses.

Go forth!

Related reading around product management, organizational agility and more available here, here, here and here.