Benefits to Mentors.
As a Mentor for the Rutgers I-Corps site program, you will have an
opportunity to share your experiences as a business leader, participate
in growing a local and regional entrepreneurial ecosystem and
experience, first hand, the Lean LaunchPad process. Hopefully, in the
process, you will learn some new and useful skills in customer
discovery. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to work with many
bright and interesting people, both on your team and on other teams.
Be a Coach, Not a Consultant.
As a business leader, investor and/or entrepreneur, you bring great
experience to this process. In other settings, you may act as a
consultant and share your experience and valuable opinions on what will
and will not work. But we’re asking you to step out of that role for
this program. Instead, we want you to encourage teams to find the
answers on their own. So, instead of saying “I tried that before, it
won’t work,” you might say “you should talk to these people…” and let
the team discovery from the market what won’t work.
Support the Customer Discovery Process.
We’re asking the mentors to work with the teaching team to support
the customer discovery process. If a team offers an observation, the
Mentor should help challenge them on whether this is something they
think or something they learned from talking to five (or more
customers). In addition, we’ll be working on techniques and tactics for
customer discovery – including good ways to ask questions. As a Mentor,
you’re role is to understand that process and help the team develop
skills and good habits for their customer discovery work.
Help Open Doors.
Team will be challenged to meet with 20 to 30 potential customers,
and they’re going to need help. The Mentors should help them think about
who to meet with and provide introductions if possible. Obviously, your
contacts are valuable to you. In making an introduction, you’re risking
your reputation, and the teams will be asked to respect that important
investment that you are making in them.
Mentors will not be asked to sign a formal non-disclosure agreement.
This process should focus on the customer more than the team’s
technology, so teams should be able to avoid detailed discussion about
the technology that could potentially compromise intellectual property
rights. Even in the absence of a formal non-disclosure agreement, the
teams will be more effective if they can work amongst themselves with an
expectation of confidentiality.
Mentors are participating on a voluntary basis. They are not allowed to ask for equity or receive compensation from the teams for their support during this program.