What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

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What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

FTired
Administrator
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Britney Spears
People talk too much in this country, Iqbal. So the words value is quite low - everyone can do that.
The same is for ideas, they are free - same as love and sex.
Try to find an angel investor if you just have the idea only..you know the answer.

People buy you to get an action from you - get new customers, improve ROI, save costs and improve workforce efficiency.
I know that you're very clever and easygoing person (maybe a bit tired) but people enjoy these bits of yourself in a pub and not in business where they simply need to get money.

I feel your pain, but I'm sure such kind of feelings has to be well managed.
So keep calm and carry on, building companies for your clients. They are waiting for you.

Take good care.
xxx


On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:55 PM, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

FTired
Administrator
In reply to this post by FTired
Wow, that was deep :-)

I get your 'action' thing, and this is exactly my point, this is NOT what is asked for when people want an advisor, get new customers is something they ask when they hire a sales person. And this is what I am curious about, as to why it is not asked defined in a way you have put it.

Iqbal



From: Britney Spears <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Sent: Wed, 12 May, 2010 0:17:28
Subject: Re: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

People talk too much in this country, Iqbal. So the words value is quite low - everyone can do that.
The same is for ideas, they are free - same as love and sex.
Try to find an angel investor if you just have the idea only..you know the answer.

People buy you to get an action from you - get new customers, improve ROI, save costs and improve workforce efficiency.
I know that you're very clever and easygoing person (maybe a bit tired) but people enjoy these bits of yourself in a pub and not in business where they simply need to get money.

I feel your pain, but I'm sure such kind of feelings has to be well managed.
So keep calm and carry on, building companies for your clients. They are waiting for you.

Take good care.
xxx


On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:55 PM, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Fletch-2
In reply to this post by FTired
Crikey Iqbal...this email could be the start of a book!
 
However, like you I kind of put myself out there in the startup world and can't help myself getting involved....but the keys for me that I look for if I'm going to do anything more than earn a beer for a bit of thought are:
 
- does the start up have something that people will pay for
- does it have a founder who has the balls (excuse the expression please) to see it through
- is the word 'failure' part of the startups vocabulary
- can whatever it is globalise from a local model
 
And from my experience of what startups who meet these criteria want?
 
- yes, normally some cash but if they're these type of people, no more than what they need to function properly
- contacts for sure, to help them get through the corporate brick walls they're stuck with if they are B2B
- the confidence gained from someone willing to assist them without taking the shirt from their backs
- a little guidance when it comes to what they're saying to prospective large customers
 
As I say this could be the start of a book, but there's my quick 10p worth mate....
 
Cheers - Fletch
On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:17 AM, Britney Spears <[hidden email]> wrote:
People talk too much in this country, Iqbal. So the words value is quite low - everyone can do that.
The same is for ideas, they are free - same as love and sex.
Try to find an angel investor if you just have the idea only..you know the answer.

People buy you to get an action from you - get new customers, improve ROI, save costs and improve workforce efficiency.
I know that you're very clever and easygoing person (maybe a bit tired) but people enjoy these bits of yourself in a pub and not in business where they simply need to get money.

I feel your pain, but I'm sure such kind of feelings has to be well managed.
So keep calm and carry on, building companies for your clients. They are waiting for you.

Take good care.
xxx



On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:55 PM, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Irene Rukerebuka
In reply to this post by FTired
Everyone is different with different reasons for wanting to start a business but personally, I would give them a questionaire you yourself has devised and get them to fill it in before you decide to work with them, plus they with you.

For me, the greatest regret I have was not getting any good advice from advisors when I started my first business and for them to ask me the most crucial question when I first sat down with them, which was 'Why are you doing this? Really?'

I say this because some people like me (a few years back) have great ideas, a lot of passion and great stamina but that doesn't mean we know what we want with a business, it's the idea that is fueling us but when advisors see this, they tend to think you'll be 'fine' and don't give you solid advice that suits your character.

A countries economy could be more sustainable in the long-term through preventibg start-ups from failing after a year or two, if people got decent advice.


IR

On 11 May 2010 23:55, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Irene Rukerebuka
In reply to this post by FTired
Also the questionaire must be quite cognitive, not your faceless questionaire that you can copy & paste or blag through.

The questionnaire that TED.com has is really cool example.

IR

On 12 May 2010 00:34, Irene Rukerebuka <[hidden email]> wrote:
Everyone is different with different reasons for wanting to start a business but personally, I would give them a questionaire you yourself has devised and get them to fill it in before you decide to work with them, plus they with you.

For me, the greatest regret I have was not getting any good advice from advisors when I started my first business and for them to ask me the most crucial question when I first sat down with them, which was 'Why are you doing this? Really?'

I say this because some people like me (a few years back) have great ideas, a lot of passion and great stamina but that doesn't mean we know what we want with a business, it's the idea that is fueling us but when advisors see this, they tend to think you'll be 'fine' and don't give you solid advice that suits your character.

A countries economy could be more sustainable in the long-term through preventibg start-ups from failing after a year or two, if people got decent advice.


IR


On 11 May 2010 23:55, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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m: 07826255452

t: www.twitter.com/rantersparadise
w: www.hubnovation.org.uk
l:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/irenerukerebuka



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m: 07826255452

t: www.twitter.com/rantersparadise
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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

FTired
Administrator
In reply to this post by FTired
Hey fletch,

yes book is on the way, as soon as I can find someone to tell me how I write a book, all I have so far is "once upon a time" and "the end" :-)

Back to the question, I agree on your points, they make sense and are obvious, and I would sum them up as a sounding board. BUT this is fine, and I guess some advisors as I mentioned before limit the time they spend offering this advice, however what happens if they want more, I mean at which point does the sounding board turn from just advice to actually building the business for someone, is this simply a function of time, or is this a function of the advice you give. i.e lets imagine customer vertical not identified, and you help with that, is that sounding board level, i.e price of a beer, or is this more than that. What about recruitment, or price point analysis, or lets say, they haven't even correctly identified the problem they wish to solve.

This question actually arose from a web design company, which was getting approached to do lots of designs. However what they found they ended up doing was actually working out, who the end customer was, how they would use the product, how the website would be used to market etc etc, hence they ended up spending a month+ on brainstorming the entore business model  for someone, who actually thought they had thought about it.

At what point does your beer become to expensive ?

Iqbal



From: Fletch <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Sent: Wed, 12 May, 2010 0:33:37
Subject: Re: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Crikey Iqbal...this email could be the start of a book!
 
However, like you I kind of put myself out there in the startup world and can't help myself getting involved....but the keys for me that I look for if I'm going to do anything more than earn a beer for a bit of thought are:
 
- does the start up have something that people will pay for
- does it have a founder who has the balls (excuse the expression please) to see it through
- is the word 'failure' part of the startups vocabulary
- can whatever it is globalise from a local model
 
And from my experience of what startups who meet these criteria want?
 
- yes, normally some cash but if they're these type of people, no more than what they need to function properly
- contacts for sure, to help them get through the corporate brick walls they're stuck with if they are B2B
- the confidence gained from someone willing to assist them without taking the shirt from their backs
- a little guidance when it comes to what they're saying to prospective large customers
 
As I say this could be the start of a book, but there's my quick 10p worth mate....
 
Cheers - Fletch
On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:17 AM, Britney Spears <[hidden email]> wrote:
People talk too much in this country, Iqbal. So the words value is quite low - everyone can do that.
The same is for ideas, they are free - same as love and sex.
Try to find an angel investor if you just have the idea only..you know the answer.

People buy you to get an action from you - get new customers, improve ROI, save costs and improve workforce efficiency.
I know that you're very clever and easygoing person (maybe a bit tired) but people enjoy these bits of yourself in a pub and not in business where they simply need to get money.

I feel your pain, but I'm sure such kind of feelings has to be well managed.
So keep calm and carry on, building companies for your clients. They are waiting for you.

Take good care.
xxx



On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:55 PM, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

FTired
Administrator
In reply to this post by FTired
Does anyone sleep :-)

Irene, again the thing is "give great advice" what is it that startup actually want to know, say in the first 3 months, or first 6 mnths. What do they need. I know there are a few verticals, ie it could be tech related or it maybe customer related, but in between those two there seems to be a fuzzy ball of questions/advice which is needed to connect both of the aforementioned.

Another way to look at this is if you had to pay for advice (yes even in the startup world this does happen :-)), what would you want, is there a list of questions/areas, or again does it come down to what fletch mentioned , i.e just need someone at the end of the line.

Some of the questions I have come across in my travels are:

1. Equity structure for founders
2. Funding
3. Business plan
4. HR
5. Tech related
6. Customer channel
7. Pricing
8. GTM
9. Founder generic problems
10. "What is problem I am solving"
11. Scaling
12. Agreements. god knows why ?
13. Pilots

I'll stop there, since there are many sub points below this, now some of these are simple ones, but to me if you answer all of thesem you are no longer advising, you're actually building a business for someone :-)

Iqbal



From: Irene Rukerebuka <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Sent: Wed, 12 May, 2010 0:35:22
Subject: Re: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Everyone is different with different reasons for wanting to start a business but personally, I would give them a questionaire you yourself has devised and get them to fill it in before you decide to work with them, plus they with you.

For me, the greatest regret I have was not getting any good advice from advisors when I started my first business and for them to ask me the most crucial question when I first sat down with them, which was 'Why are you doing this? Really?'

I say this because some people like me (a few years back) have great ideas, a lot of passion and great stamina but that doesn't mean we know what we want with a business, it's the idea that is fueling us but when advisors see this, they tend to think you'll be 'fine' and don't give you solid advice that suits your character.

A countries economy could be more sustainable in the long-term through preventibg start-ups from failing after a year or two, if people got decent advice.


IR

On 11 May 2010 23:55, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Fletch-2
In reply to this post by FTired
Iqbal,
 
I know exactly what you're saying...and as you know the conversation after sounding board has to very quickly turn to founders perceived self-value of project/company, and what they're prepared to give away/pay for 'x' amount of cash and 'x' amount of expertise. And that is weighed against what the advisor is bringing to the table in terms of cash/quantifiable input.....yes?
 
Simple old horse trading but hopefully done ethically and honestly...and with any luck greed will stay well out of it.
 
Cheers and g'nite!
 
Chill out time with next episode of Jeeves and Wooster beckons...:-)
 
Fletch

On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:41 AM, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hey fletch,

yes book is on the way, as soon as I can find someone to tell me how I write a book, all I have so far is "once upon a time" and "the end" :-)

Back to the question, I agree on your points, they make sense and are obvious, and I would sum them up as a sounding board. BUT this is fine, and I guess some advisors as I mentioned before limit the time they spend offering this advice, however what happens if they want more, I mean at which point does the sounding board turn from just advice to actually building the business for someone, is this simply a function of time, or is this a function of the advice you give. i.e lets imagine customer vertical not identified, and you help with that, is that sounding board level, i.e price of a beer, or is this more than that. What about recruitment, or price point analysis, or lets say, they haven't even correctly identified the problem they wish to solve.

This question actually arose from a web design company, which was getting approached to do lots of designs. However what they found they ended up doing was actually working out, who the end customer was, how they would use the product, how the website would be used to market etc etc, hence they ended up spending a month+ on brainstorming the entore business model  for someone, who actually thought they had thought about it.

At what point does your beer become to expensive ?

Iqbal



From: Fletch <[hidden email]> Sent: Wed, 12 May, 2010 0:33:37

Subject: Re: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Crikey Iqbal...this email could be the start of a book!
 
However, like you I kind of put myself out there in the startup world and can't help myself getting involved....but the keys for me that I look for if I'm going to do anything more than earn a beer for a bit of thought are:
 
- does the start up have something that people will pay for
- does it have a founder who has the balls (excuse the expression please) to see it through
- is the word 'failure' part of the startups vocabulary
- can whatever it is globalise from a local model
 
And from my experience of what startups who meet these criteria want?
 
- yes, normally some cash but if they're these type of people, no more than what they need to function properly
- contacts for sure, to help them get through the corporate brick walls they're stuck with if they are B2B
- the confidence gained from someone willing to assist them without taking the shirt from their backs
- a little guidance when it comes to what they're saying to prospective large customers
 
As I say this could be the start of a book, but there's my quick 10p worth mate....
 
Cheers - Fletch
On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:17 AM, Britney Spears <[hidden email]> wrote:
People talk too much in this country, Iqbal. So the words value is quite low - everyone can do that.
The same is for ideas, they are free - same as love and sex.
Try to find an angel investor if you just have the idea only..you know the answer.

People buy you to get an action from you - get new customers, improve ROI, save costs and improve workforce efficiency.
I know that you're very clever and easygoing person (maybe a bit tired) but people enjoy these bits of yourself in a pub and not in business where they simply need to get money.

I feel your pain, but I'm sure such kind of feelings has to be well managed.
So keep calm and carry on, building companies for your clients. They are waiting for you.

Take good care.
xxx



On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:55 PM, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.




Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243
Chat Skype: feelin_tired
Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr




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Tel: +44 7518 345679

Grandfather's Biz (c1942): arcltd.blogspot.com

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RE: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Joao Belo
In reply to this post by FTired

My view on advisor roles at 1am:

 

-          Making connections/introductions

-          Sounding board for general business strategy and specific operational topics

-          Support/Coaching for top-level management, someone CEOs feel comfortable showing their weaknesses to

-          Providing insights on specialised subjects (e.g. industry expertise, technical stuff, etc.)

 

While everyone can have an opinion, not everyone will have the experience to properly substantiate it. The only execution you can expect from an advisor is having him/her pointing you in the right direction or introducing you to the right people. Beyond that you don’t want an advisor, you want a consultant.

 

---

Joao Belo

 

Full-time MBA Student 2009-2010

Imperial College Business School

+44 7818183926

 

Blog on Venture Capital: http://www.joaobelo.co.uk

Twitter: johnbelo

 

From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Fletch
Sent: 12 May 2010 00:56
To: [hidden email]
Subject: Re: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

 

Iqbal,

 

I know exactly what you're saying...and as you know the conversation after sounding board has to very quickly turn to founders perceived self-value of project/company, and what they're prepared to give away/pay for 'x' amount of cash and 'x' amount of expertise. And that is weighed against what the advisor is bringing to the table in terms of cash/quantifiable input.....yes?

 

Simple old horse trading but hopefully done ethically and honestly...and with any luck greed will stay well out of it.

 

Cheers and g'nite!

 

Chill out time with next episode of Jeeves and Wooster beckons...:-)

 

Fletch

On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:41 AM, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hey fletch,

yes book is on the way, as soon as I can find someone to tell me how I write a book, all I have so far is "once upon a time" and "the end" :-)

Back to the question, I agree on your points, they make sense and are obvious, and I would sum them up as a sounding board. BUT this is fine, and I guess some advisors as I mentioned before limit the time they spend offering this advice, however what happens if they want more, I mean at which point does the sounding board turn from just advice to actually building the business for someone, is this simply a function of time, or is this a function of the advice you give. i.e lets imagine customer vertical not identified, and you help with that, is that sounding board level, i.e price of a beer, or is this more than that. What about recruitment, or price point analysis, or lets say, they haven't even correctly identified the problem they wish to solve.

This question actually arose from a web design company, which was getting approached to do lots of designs. However what they found they ended up doing was actually working out, who the end customer was, how they would use the product, how the website would be used to market etc etc, hence they ended up spending a month+ on brainstorming the entore business model  for someone, who actually thought they had thought about it.

At what point does your beer become to expensive ?

Iqbal

 

 


From: Fletch <[hidden email]>

Sent: Wed, 12 May, 2010 0:33:37


Subject: Re: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

 

Crikey Iqbal...this email could be the start of a book!

 

However, like you I kind of put myself out there in the startup world and can't help myself getting involved....but the keys for me that I look for if I'm going to do anything more than earn a beer for a bit of thought are:

 

- does the start up have something that people will pay for

- does it have a founder who has the balls (excuse the expression please) to see it through

- is the word 'failure' part of the startups vocabulary

- can whatever it is globalise from a local model

 

And from my experience of what startups who meet these criteria want?

 

- yes, normally some cash but if they're these type of people, no more than what they need to function properly

- contacts for sure, to help them get through the corporate brick walls they're stuck with if they are B2B

- the confidence gained from someone willing to assist them without taking the shirt from their backs

- a little guidance when it comes to what they're saying to prospective large customers

 

As I say this could be the start of a book, but there's my quick 10p worth mate....

 

Cheers - Fletch

On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 12:17 AM, Britney Spears <[hidden email]> wrote:

People talk too much in this country, Iqbal. So the words value is quite low - everyone can do that.
The same is for ideas, they are free - same as love and sex.
Try to find an angel investor if you just have the idea only..you know the answer.

People buy you to get an action from you - get new customers, improve ROI, save costs and improve workforce efficiency.
I know that you're very clever and easygoing person (maybe a bit tired) but people enjoy these bits of yourself in a pub and not in business where they simply need to get money.

I feel your pain, but I'm sure such kind of feelings has to be well managed.
So keep calm and carry on, building companies for your clients. They are waiting for you.

Take good care.
xxx



On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 11:55 PM, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.



Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243

Chat Error! Filename not specified.Skype: feelin_tired





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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

john barrett
In reply to this post by FTired
I would have to say for me it would be a guide to show me where I could go wrong, an experienced voice pointing out the hidden pitfalls and things to watch out for, the stuff you wouldn't learn in business school. Also introductions to the people who can help you and maybe a warning about those who will just take you for a ride. The actual day to day running of the business is what you learn in business school and can easily be googled if you need to. If you need to ask your mentor things like 'how do you set up a vat account' or 'what accounts package would you recommend' then you probably shouldn't have left business school yet. I think what I am trying to say is that it is the life experience part that would be of value to me. As for what that advice would be worth, I'm not sure I would be the best person to say, from a first-timer point of view, I suppose your talking about something that is invaluable to someone who probably hasn't got a pot, what could that ever be worth. I think a lot of mentors do it more for the sake of giving something back rather than to make a profit as any mentor worth his salt is really going to be in a position where they have been there and bought the t-shirt and so have made their fortunes already, if they haven't then they probably shouldn't be looking at mentoring and would neither be completely qualified to do so.

On another note, I recently realised that you can eliminate all the repeatitve postings on this thread and save a lot of space and make it easier for us all to read, if, before you type your reply, you highlight all the text that is below where you write and delete it all. None of it is necessary when replying to OC and just makes it very messy and difficult to read. It is put there for you for when you reply to a normal email so the recipient can reference your reply, on here it just constantly repeats the whole thread after every reply. Don't get me wrong as I have been doing it myself for the last two and a half years too, and I only just noticed it(quite embarrased that I never noticed it before actually). Try and spread the word as it will benefit us all.

Thanks,

John Barrett.




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RE: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Brian Milnes
In reply to this post by FTired

Hi Iqbal,

I’ve done over 40 paid advice sessions with Business Start Ups, funded by Business Link. I’ve had a very good feedback rating (9.5 out of 10). Notably, other than additional paid-for sessions, none have them have returned to part with their own money for such advice.

Many of those sessions had to start as counselling sessions. Personal issues or issues between partners predominated. This has sometimes been resolved by the business or partnership not going forward. Several times I’ve had to point out that the business idea has no value (in as considerate way as possible).

The failure rate for small business is still massively high. (90% within 5 years.) On that basis, you might ask why anyone would choose to work as a mentor/advisor to such companies for anything other than normal fees.

But of course, start-ups rarely feel that they can afford those fees.

Most of them actually cannot afford not to. But they’ll only find out after it was too late.

On the horns of a dilemma, then…

Brian

From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of iqbalgandham
Sent: 11 May 2010 23:55
To: [hidden email]
Subject: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

 

Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.





Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243

Chat Skype: feelin_tired

Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr





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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Antony Penn
In reply to this post by FTired
I'm on both sides of the fence on this one. In the past, when running a small web programming outfit, i've been asked to build a website, which subsequently turned out (as someone else found) to be an entire build-me-a-business advisory role. People start out asking for the odd bit of advice (over a beer, say), but once you've established yourself as a source of knowledge people tend to keep coming back for more. Over the years I have found that the people that come back the most are the ones most likely to fail.

For me the line between giving free advice or mentoring and having a stake or being paid, is purely a function of time.

People generally ask three things (money/investment aside):
1. Introduction to contacts.
2. Advice on which one of x number of options are best for their particular situation.
3. Explanation of how something works or is done.

#1 can be done by anyone, is normally quick/easy to do not charged for.
#2 is can be free advice or consultancy, answered based on experienced, and after a certain amount of time should be charged for.
#3 is something that can be googled or read about. When asked these type of questions I tend to keep answers short and direct them towards books that explain the topic in question. People that ask more than a few of these questions probably do not have what it takes to succeed.

#1 and #2 are the remit of advisors and mentors, and should really be charged for at some point.

Having given out lots of advice to bedroom businesses in the past, I now find myself setting up company with global aspirations, and have wondered over the last year whether I should get a mentor and what I would want from them. I still don't know. Generally speaking entrepreneurs want to do it all themselves. The odd shoulder to cry or lean on? (ie life coach with business skills), maybe someone who's worked in the industry and knows the players and percentages (ie contacts). The best answer I have to my own question would be someone that can fill in my biggest skills gap (which would make them a partner) but has a lot of experience in my marketplace (for mentoring and advice).






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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Larry-6
In reply to this post by FTired
Hello,

Following Brian short story, i feel compelled to add my experience to the discussion.

I have been a free lance [operational sales consultant] for many years. That is, i met start up managers and tried to help them sell or get money to pay me.

Since i was not paid with fixed fees but as a % of money received by the company, i was free to leave a company as soon as a few hours of mutual investigation, when i was convinced they had no chance to get money and pay me within a few weeks.

Basically, my first 10 hours were always free. During these 10 hours, both parties could stop partnership without notice nor explanation. The agenda of the 10 hours was : what are your current sales/funds funnels ? Ok, now we are going to select together one action and do it. Like prepare a meeting, go to it, debrief.
At the end of the 10 free hours i would propose a short term plan, where grabbing money somewhere was the objective. Depending on the risks, i would ask for minimal fees or not. If the manager was not ok for the fees, then i would end cooperation. When no fixed fees was my choice, the % was bigger, up to 30%. My standard % was 20%, and 10% when the manager was in fact the mandatory pre-sales manager.

I can say that this business model worked for me for years, and currently, after co-founding a starup in 2006, i am back to my main trade.

About start ups ? 9/10, among 49, were not able to accept what really selling with a profit means, and i dropped them within a few hours or days or weeks.

Proposed Conclusion : not yet richly funded Start Up cannot accept counseling which does not pay for itself within weeks.  Consultants for start ups should focus on services which make money flow toward them, and they will be paid, again and again, until their counsels become inadequate for a given customer start up.

Best regards/ Cordialement
Larry/Laurent Guyot-Sionnest
+33(0) 6 74 19 91 33





On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 09:13, Brian Milnes <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi Iqbal,

I’ve done over 40 paid advice sessions with Business Start Ups, funded by Business Link. I’ve had a very good feedback rating (9.5 out of 10). Notably, other than additional paid-for sessions, none have them have returned to part with their own money for such advice.

Many of those sessions had to start as counselling sessions. Personal issues or issues between partners predominated. This has sometimes been resolved by the business or partnership not going forward. Several times I’ve had to point out that the business idea has no value (in as considerate way as possible).

The failure rate for small business is still massively high. (90% within 5 years.) On that basis, you might ask why anyone would choose to work as a mentor/advisor to such companies for anything other than normal fees.

But of course, start-ups rarely feel that they can afford those fees.

Most of them actually cannot afford not to. But they’ll only find out after it was too late.

On the horns of a dilemma, then…

Brian

From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of iqbalgandham
Sent: 11 May 2010 23:55

Subject: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

 

Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.





Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243

Chat Skype: feelin_tired

Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr





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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Fletch-2
In reply to this post by FTired
You know the crazy thing? This forum is a kind of mentor in itself, and probably the best I have ever come across :-)

On Wed, May 12, 2010 at 9:30 AM, Antony Penn <[hidden email]> wrote:
I'm on both sides of the fence on this one. In the past, when running a small web programming outfit, i've been asked to build a website, which subsequently turned out (as someone else found) to be an entire build-me-a-business advisory role. People start out asking for the odd bit of advice (over a beer, say), but once you've established yourself as a source of knowledge people tend to keep coming back for more. Over the years I have found that the people that come back the most are the ones most likely to fail.

For me the line between giving free advice or mentoring and having a stake or being paid, is purely a function of time.

People generally ask three things (money/investment aside):
1. Introduction to contacts.
2. Advice on which one of x number of options are best for their particular situation.
3. Explanation of how something works or is done.

#1 can be done by anyone, is normally quick/easy to do not charged for.
#2 is can be free advice or consultancy, answered based on experienced, and after a certain amount of time should be charged for.
#3 is something that can be googled or read about. When asked these type of questions I tend to keep answers short and direct them towards books that explain the topic in question. People that ask more than a few of these questions probably do not have what it takes to succeed.

#1 and #2 are the remit of advisors and mentors, and should really be charged for at some point.

Having given out lots of advice to bedroom businesses in the past, I now find myself setting up company with global aspirations, and have wondered over the last year whether I should get a mentor and what I would want from them. I still don't know. Generally speaking entrepreneurs want to do it all themselves. The odd shoulder to cry or lean on? (ie life coach with business skills), maybe someone who's worked in the industry and knows the players and percentages (ie contacts). The best answer I have to my own question would be someone that can fill in my biggest skills gap (which would make them a partner) but has a lot of experience in my marketplace (for mentoring and advice).







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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

FTired
Administrator
In reply to this post by FTired
"The ones which came back often, and the ones most likely to fail" wow, that is a quote for the books.

Interesting viewpoints from both sides, I actually met someone who charged for intro to contacts...

Iqbal



From: Antony Penn <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Sent: Wed, 12 May, 2010 9:30:46
Subject: Re: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

I'm on both sides of the fence on this one. In the past, when running a small web programming outfit, i've been asked to build a website, which subsequently turned out (as someone else found) to be an entire build-me-a-business advisory role. People start out asking for the odd bit of advice (over a beer, say), but once you've established yourself as a source of knowledge people tend to keep coming back for more. Over the years I have found that the people that come back the most are the ones most likely to fail.

For me the line between giving free advice or mentoring and having a stake or being paid, is purely a function of time.

People generally ask three things (money/investment aside):
1. Introduction to contacts.
2. Advice on which one of x number of options are best for their particular situation.
3. Explanation of how something works or is done.

#1 can be done by anyone, is normally quick/easy to do not charged for.
#2 is can be free advice or consultancy, answered based on experienced, and after a certain amount of time should be charged for.
#3 is something that can be googled or read about. When asked these type of questions I tend to keep answers short and direct them towards books that explain the topic in question. People that ask more than a few of these questions probably do not have what it takes to succeed.

#1 and #2 are the remit of advisors and mentors, and should really be charged for at some point.

Having given out lots of advice to bedroom businesses in the past, I now find myself setting up company with global aspirations, and have wondered over the last year whether I should get a mentor and what I would want from them. I still don't know. Generally speaking entrepreneurs want to do it all themselves. The odd shoulder to cry or lean on? (ie life coach with business skills), maybe someone who's worked in the industry and knows the players and percentages (ie contacts). The best answer I have to my own question would be someone that can fill in my biggest skills gap (which would make them a partner) but has a lot of experience in my marketplace (for mentoring and advice).






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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

FTired
Administrator
In reply to this post by FTired
Brian

You bring up another additional point, as to where startup see value. I normally see then give value to some coder/developer even then at a lowly rate (no harm in negotiating I guess), but sales, very little is given to that (don't get me started on branding again), and actually building the business (which I understand can mean a lot).

I am wondering if they fail because startups do not pay or get the correct advice. I guess its like going to the gym, most people work out, but do it all wrong and after a few months, weight has been gained and no shed, and hence give up, which is why incubators, and things like seedcamp really help. Strange when entrepreneurs stake their lives on an idea, they will not get correct advice, but when they want to decorate their house, they'll get the best people in :-)


Iqbal



From: Brian Milnes <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Sent: Wed, 12 May, 2010 8:13:48
Subject: RE: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Hi Iqbal,

I’ve done over 40 paid advice sessions with Business Start Ups, funded by Business Link. I’ve had a very good feedback rating (9.5 out of 10). Notably, other than additional paid-for sessions, none have them have returned to part with their own money for such advice.

Many of those sessions had to start as counselling sessions. Personal issues or issues between partners predominated. This has sometimes been resolved by the business or partnership not going forward. Several times I’ve had to point out that the business idea has no value (in as considerate way as possible).

The failure rate for small business is still massively high. (90% within 5 years.) On that basis, you might ask why anyone would choose to work as a mentor/advisor to such companies for anything other than normal fees.

But of course, start-ups rarely feel that they can afford those fees.

Most of them actually cannot afford not to. But they’ll only find out after it was too late.

On the horns of a dilemma, then…

Brian

From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of iqbalgandham
Sent: 11 May 2010 23:55
To: [hidden email]
Subject: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

 

Hi

I know this might be a pretty vague question, and hence get little response, but time and again I get approached (as I am sure many others on this list do) by startups, whether pre/post funding, looking for an 'advisor'

However when asked "What do they actually want done" the answer becomes very warm and fluffy, which usually ends up meaning that requirements from both sides are never met. Of course this means its never a win-win, and hence when money is involved 9/10 times, someone somewhere always complains they were 'screwed'.

Of course I am not saying anyone is to blame here, especially since early on normally startups are just looking for a sounding board. However what starts of as a sounding board, can lead to being sucked into the business and eventually spending far more time than initially anticipated. Of course lots of advisors put a time limit on their involvement, which I personally find very tough to adhere to, I mean do you stop half way through a phone conversation :-). Sometimes the advice seeker does not want advice, but someone cheap to actually build out the business for them, i.e the model, who the customer is, etc etc, but surely this has to have more value than a advising role, after all you are building a company for someone.

Unlike a "build me a website role" or "get me a customer" advising does not seem to have any clear defined boundaries. So I guess the question I am throwing out there to those who seek or who are advisors is "What do they consider as advice" or "mentoring" and when does it become "hey I am building the company for you". Or is there a better way of defining the role, or like a accountant or lawyer is a retainer based/per hour method the simplest. When does the role go past just adhoc advice to actually "doing the business for them", i.e something you would do if you working fulltime on the startup.





Regards
I. Gandham (pron ik-ba-al, gand-ham)
T: +44 776 499 4243

Chat Skype: feelin_tired

Contact Me LinkedinTwitterTumblr





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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Irene Rukerebuka
In reply to this post by FTired

'Give great advice' comes from the consultant actually trying to 'get' their client and understand weher he/she is coming from.

Each client is different, with different needs. Understand them via some sort of questionnaire-will save you tonnes of resource time-and see how/where/what they need help or support with.

The thing is the fuzziness won't go when you're entrepreneur that is full of ideas, passion and running on adrenalin.

But I agree what you've said below is pretty much building a business.

Someone mentioned coaching, I'd def pay for that-not new agey but candid, honest and bright- but not advice by some business consultant who is telling you everything you already know or could google or twitter.

Also think advisors just want to tell you what to do and if they see that your business isn't the next Richard Branson, they get really bored and patronising.

That is intimidating-only human!-so you get more fuzzy and dejected, which makes you lose the direction of your business.

It's a two way thing Iqbal, that's all I can say for sure. You get what you put in, both advisors & entrepreneurs.



On 12 May 2010 00:47, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Does anyone sleep :-)

Irene, again the thing is "give great advice" what is it that startup actually want to know, say in the first 3 months, or first 6 mnths. What do they need. I know there are a few verticals, ie it could be tech related or it maybe customer related, but in between those two there seems to be a fuzzy ball of questions/advice which is needed to connect both of the aforementioned.

Another way to look at this is if you had to pay for advice (yes even in the startup world this does happen :-)), what would you want, is there a list of questions/areas, or again does it come down to what fletch mentioned , i.e just need someone at the end of the line.

Some of the questions I have come across in my travels are:

1. Equity structure for founders
2. Funding
3. Business plan
4. HR
5. Tech related
6. Customer channel
7. Pricing
8. GTM
9. Founder generic problems
10. "What is problem I am solving"
11. Scaling
12. Agreements. god knows why ?
13. Pilots

I'll stop there, since there are many sub points below this, now some of these are simple ones, but to me if you answer all of thesem you are no longer advising, you're actually building a business for someone :-)

Iqbal








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m: 07826255452

t: www.twitter.com/rantersparadise
w: www.hubnovation.org.uk
l:http://uk.linkedin.com/in/irenerukerebuka




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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

FTired
Administrator
In reply to this post by FTired
Irene,

I like the 'bored' bit, and dislike consultants. Sorry but to me consultants tend to use a cut and paste approach to things, which I have found never works in a startup, they are all so different, aside from the business ideas, the people are different, and I think this is where the consultant approach fails, they do not really have passion for the business/idea, i.e will take on anything that pays.

Iqbal



From: Irene Rukerebuka <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Sent: Wed, 12 May, 2010 11:11:14
Subject: Re: [entrepreneur-1056] What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc


'Give great advice' comes from the consultant actually trying to 'get' their client and understand weher he/she is coming from.

Each client is different, with different needs. Understand them via some sort of questionnaire-will save you tonnes of resource time-and see how/where/what they need help or support with.

The thing is the fuzziness won't go when you're entrepreneur that is full of ideas, passion and running on adrenalin.

But I agree what you've said below is pretty much building a business.

Someone mentioned coaching, I'd def pay for that-not new agey but candid, honest and bright- but not advice by some business consultant who is telling you everything you already know or could google or twitter.

Also think advisors just want to tell you what to do and if they see that your business isn't the next Richard Branson, they get really bored and patronising.

That is intimidating-only human!-so you get more fuzzy and dejected, which makes you lose the direction of your business.

It's a two way thing Iqbal, that's all I can say for sure. You get what you put in, both advisors & entrepreneurs.



On 12 May 2010 00:47, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Does anyone sleep :-)

Irene, again the thing is "give great advice" what is it that startup actually want to know, say in the first 3 months, or first 6 mnths. What do they need. I know there are a few verticals, ie it could be tech related or it maybe customer related, but in between those two there seems to be a fuzzy ball of questions/advice which is needed to connect both of the aforementioned.

Another way to look at this is if you had to pay for advice (yes even in the startup world this does happen :-)), what would you want, is there a list of questions/areas, or again does it come down to what fletch mentioned , i.e just need someone at the end of the line.

Some of the questions I have come across in my travels are:

1. Equity structure for founders
2. Funding
3. Business plan
4. HR
5. Tech related
6. Customer channel
7. Pricing
8. GTM
9. Founder generic problems
10. "What is problem I am solving"
11. Scaling
12. Agreements. god knows why ?
13. Pilots

I'll stop there, since there are many sub points below this, now some of these are simple ones, but to me if you answer all of thesem you are no longer advising, you're actually building a business for someone :-)

Iqbal








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Re: What do startups actually want from advisors/mentors/non-exec etc

Antony Penn
In reply to this post by FTired
Let me qualify that a bit more...
The ones that keep coming back with my #3 type questions (how does x
work) are the ones i've seen more likely to fail.

Charging for contacts is ok in certain circumstances. There have been
cases of companies being introduced to a top level B2B buyer that have
netted the receipient millions in contracts, and the introductions
were not quick emails but physical meetings and personal
recommendation.

Like most everything, there is no black and white, no one-rule-fits-all.


On 12 May 2010 11:05, iqbalgandham <[hidden email]> wrote:
> "The ones which came back often, and the ones most likely to fail" wow, that
> is a quote for the books.
>
> Interesting viewpoints from both sides, I actually met someone who charged
> for intro to contacts...
>
> Iqbal



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