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The Mentoring Matrix You Did Not Know

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In a free-wheeling chat, Arpita Ganesh, CEO and Founder, Buttercups, shares some real life and practical founder-friendly advice regarding mentorship.

As India`s foremost lingerie expert, she has recently raised, pre-series A funding from Snapdeal’s former chief product officer Anand Chandrasekaran, and its existing angel investors Kanwaljit Singh and Manoj Varghese.

In her entrepreneurial journey, Arpita has overcome various odds and is exceptionally honest about attributing her success to her mentors. Here she dishes out the lesser known facts about mentors.

DROP THE LABEL: Too much is lost in trying to define and label someone as a mentor. As they say, the best mentoring happens without a formal tag. Find someone who understands business, you know you would listen to, will be brutally honest and come up with the best advice. “Let there be questions, unbiased advice, time and availability of the mentor and motivation.

IT’S OK TO APPROACH A MENTOR THROUGH SOCIAL NETWORKS: “I approached my mentor through LinkedIn and said that I would like to connect and run my idea through him. Of course, I did not say – will you be my mentor? He responded and till today he is the best mentor I have.” Stick to keeping it short and simple, if you’re contacting someone for the first time, through social networks. Follow the social media do’s and don’ts.

MENTORS ARE EVERYWHERE: Look around and you will find people who could mentor you everywhere. They could be speaking at a conference; you can meet them at an event, on the flight, and even in your family. Make it about the person and not his position or organisation. “I first heard my mentor speak at an event and whatever he said made a lot of sense to me. I continue to attend a lot of events, workshops, conferences. I have always returned with at least one takeaway and sometimes a great mentor.” Find new ways of connecting and meeting mentors.

MENTORS WILL NOT SPOON-FEED YOU: Keep your expectations real. A mentor is somebody you go to when you have a conflict or when you need advice or more clarity on your thoughts. Mentor will suggest options but will not decide for you on which option to pick. By the end, it’s your journey, and you decide which path to take. A mentor can only help you navigate that path.

IT’S ALRIGHT TO DROP A MENTOR: If you are not happy with your mentor, find somebody else. “Any mentor who told me that my idea is not great without validating it, I would not have him as a mentor. Somebody who just does sweet talk and jokes with you is not a mentor. I don’t joke with my mentors.”

BE A GOOD MENTEE, IT’S A TWO WAY STREET: Work towards a “win-win” relationship with your mentor. Be real and don’t try too hard. Today, mentors are open to being updated on certain things amongst a fast changing landscape. Share thoughts and knowledge. A knowledge upgrade on either side is a good thing.

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investment

Are you looking to fine-tune strategy, organization & performance to get seed capital? You can apply to the WE Liftoff program.

Here is what we mean by a Validated Idea:

  • You have identified a ‘customer type’ that you are dealing with.
  • You have identified a problem that is critical for the that customer type
  • You have validated this problem with a ‘sizable’ set of customers so you know that it is a ‘real problem’
  • Your research and customer discussions shows that There is a large enough number of customers that are looking for a solution to this particular problem, and the venture can be financially viable and feasible
  • There are no apparent existing solutions or good enough solutions that are serving your customer type at this time for the problem
  • May have started working on a website/facebook/Instagram page to get customer reactions
  • May have worked on a prototype solution already
  • May have early traction with some customers