Mentoring and helping RedClaimer in the Al Andalus Venture Forum. Sevilla, Nov 2022

I have reviewed enough pitch decks to have seen a good range of colours. Not skin colour, but I am referring to the different variety of mentors/advisors.

In the early days of a startup it is sometimes difficult to understand and define who could be a good advisor.

When I started my last startup, initially I didn’t really feel the need for any advisors or mentors. I had an idea and I just got on with it. I knew the product I wanted to develop, I had some initial contacts for selling it and interested in the products and I had a vast secondary network of clients through which I was hoping to access my next set of clients.

As it turned out things did not go exactly as planned. I soon found myself in the middle of the 2008 recession. Many of my clients were sitting on thousands of euros of debt and they were not as forthcoming as I had initially anticipated. I was also trying to do fundraising, a task I had no experience or idea about.

So in order to satisfy the need of getting more contacts (clients) and impressing the would-be investors, I set out reading about what I needed on a pitch deck, looking at competitors, and copying from them.

COPYING FROM THEM. Nothing wrong with copying good actions, but unfortunately SHIT stinks and if you copy SHIT it will still carry on stinking. Here I refer to directly the fact that I could see a lot of top names as advisors. In copying this action, I searched my network and asked those friends & far-flung connections in Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and whatever big-name companies I could find to become advisors in my Startup.

Nothing wrong with asking your good, high-level contacts to become your startup advisors. You have to use every contact and connection you have to help you climb the steps and open doors. The problem is when those advisor names are nothing other than just names. Names with good intentions but nothing more to mention. When these names are just there to impress without adding any support, without doing something special, opening a door, showing you the way, and spending serious time with you, they become nothing more than vanity names.

Yes. I admit. I had a few of those names for the first few years and I had to keep changing them as time went on, because they did nothing other than appear as names.

These names as good as they are, stink on any pitch deck. They will start stinking the minute you are questioned about them and they start stinking the minute you get funding and they have to perform their role as advisors.

When choosing a mentor/startup advisor, it is important to make sure you find people who have a keen interest in your business and in you. They want you to succeed and they are going to go out of their way to open doors, guide you and spend adequate time with you as a mentor/advisor.

In particular, in those early days of your startup, your hands are full, you have no extra time and what you really need is someone to help you with the workload. Advice is good, but someone who can take on part of that workload is even better.

For example: A CFO advisor, who can actually work with you in actually creating your financial plan. A communication advisor, who will create a marketing plan for you and fix up your pitch deck and investors presentation. A marketing advisor, who will call key clients, help you get the first few contracts, and big accounts.

When I review pitch decks, what surprises me is I see entrepreneurs and startups making the same mistakes as I did 15 years ago. Listing advisors and mentors who bring nothing to the table other than their names. Unfortunately, big names are not always your key to success.

Check your pitchdeck and ask yourself, what do I really get by giving them a share in my company? If the value is only in the name, then think again and replace them with one that provides you real value.

A mentor/advisor who provides you with true value makes your pitchdeck shine, and ultimately it helps you and your company achieve your goals.

I have been working for the past four years as a hands-on mentor. I get involved in the business as a team member. I give advice and I work with the team, and the founders helping them with some of the tasks that I can do. Need a helping hand? Book a quick call with me