Mentors are important for any growing business, and as Raj Burman, an international mentor for Enterprise explains- “The challenge for any company that wants to scale up is getting access to knowledge. Getting connected to mentors, who have the length and breadth of experience needed for setting and growing a business, is a wealth that the entrepreneurs of Enterprise can tap into.”
The importance of mentors is understood by all accelerator programs. However, Enterprise is the only accelerator program in Nepal, which not only pairs its participants with individual mentors but also links the companies to international mentors; and has a whole week dedicated for international mentors to work with the companies. Mentor Week – it is when international mentors meet the ten companies for the first time. This intensive week is filled with workshops and company visits, allowing the mentors and the companies to know each other better. This week is an important experience that helps both the mentors and the mentees continue the mentorship activities in the weeks to follow.
Robert van Dortmond, the lead international mentor, shares that he initially questioned if the current batch of companies even needed any help; since, while pitching to the mentors, they seemed to be “further ahead than the previous batches.” However, interacting with the companies during the week showed that “a lot of value that can be added in the companies. The companies need some advice or insight on things like branding and focus, which the international mentors with their experience and knowledge from being an entrepreneur themselves can easily provide.”
Robert, explains that “The value addition by the international mentors is not limited to mentor week, as we will continue to talk with them over the internet.” Olivier Coops, another international mentor, adds that the international mentors “are a great addition, since, being from a place with a longer entrepreneurial environment compared to Nepal, we have a different way of approaching business. Plus, all the international mentors have experience in rapidly starting a company and scaling up, either as consultants like Robertvan Dortmond and Peter van der Fluit, or as entrepreneurs like the others, including myself. In our own entrepreneurial experiences we have gone through a lot of the same things that these companies are going through, so we can share our experiences and help them in issues such as how to have a lean start-up, the business model canvassing etc.” Mentor, Olivier adds, “also have some specific roles. It is not telling the entrepreneur what to do; it is rather asking the right questions and helping the entrepreneur come up with the answers. Plus, our role is also to energize the entrepreneur if they ever get overwhelmed.”
As Raj notes, the companies in this current batch “are in the different end of the growth spectrum. And this diversity is very interesting, because no matter which vertical they are in, the common dominator between all of them, is they are young entrepreneurs looking for an opportunity to grow and they need help and need access to market customers and investments.”