Mentor FAQs

Below we address common questions.
For additional questions, please contact us. 

 or intWhat is the time commitment for being a mentor?

We ask that each mentor commit to giving one talk during a session. The talk can be up to 25 minutes with 5–10 minutes for questions. We ask that mentors attend the full session from 6–9pm to help rate founder ideas. The only additional time is the time to prepare your talk. We provide an outline of key points to guide your talk with room for the mentor to add their own content. Mentors will also be invited to the final pitch showcase, but are not required to attend.

 

How do I apply to be a mentor?

Please email tyler@vencafstl.org with the topic you want to teach, your LinkedIn profile, and a short summary of why you are qualified and passionate about this topic.

 

What sessions/topics do you need mentors for and which topics are still available?

Please view our 2020 curriculum. We are currently working on the key points for each topic. We welcome your feedback and recommendations for other potential mentors.

 

What level should I structure my talk for the students?

We believe in the “keep it simple” philosophy. Start with what do you wish you would’ve known when the first year of your startup? Each topic should include as many details for a student to understand the topic, but refrain from complex spreadsheets, processes, or outlines. First-time entrepreneurs tend to spend a lot of time on administrative and operational tasks that aren’t important. We want to teach the most important concepts of each topic, but also keep students focused on finding product/market fit and then developing their idea. If they succeed in these two things, they can learn the rest. Overall, you will be giving many students the foundational details on each topic, so keep that in mind as you develop your talk. For more detailed information, we will ask that each mentor include a summary slide with resources/links to learn more. Students can then access these as needed.

 

What are the requirements to be a mentor?

Each mentor should be a current or past entrepreneur. Mentors don’t have to be currently running their company or be the CEO if they were succeeded or acquired. It’s not required that Mentors have had large exits, lots of employees, or raised large amounts of investment. We look for mentors who have started companies that went to market, existed for 2 or more years (unless acquired), and generated sustainable revenue.

 

Will I need to work with students outside of the sessions?

We will not give your contact information to students nor ask for one-on-one mentoring. If you see a student who you can help, want to invest in, or meet with, then you are welcome to discuss it with them independently. If a student asks for your information, we will ask for your permission before making connections.

 

Are mentors compensated?

We do not provide any financial compensation to mentors as we hope mentors are doing this to give back or pay it forward from past mentors who helped them. We hope that mentors see the value in giving back and we only ask Mentors to teach one night during a session. Mentors may become formal advisers for startups where they can work individually with the company on stock options once formed. 

 

What if I can’t make a session I signed up for?

If you know at least 4 weeks in advance that you can’t teach a session, we would appreciate the notice. Our goal is to have backups, but one of our directors can teach the topic if needed. If there is an emergency and you need to cancel in 14 days or less, we ask that you provide a backfill mentor or complete your presentation and then one of our directors will teach your topic from your perspective. If you have a co-founder or entrepreneur you recommend, we’d appreciate you asking them to teach your topic if they have the expertise.

 

Can mentors invest or become formally involved with founders?

Once students graduate and launch their company, mentors are free to discuss additional professional relationships with founders. After graduation, Venture School will have no formal programmatic relationship with students. We will follow up to monitor success, provide guidance if asked, but overall we hope students will launch a company that is ready for customers, funding, or eligible for a more advanced accelerator.