Chapter 23. Engage Great Mentors

Emily Olson

Engage Great Mentors

Emily is the co-founder of Foodzie, an online marketplace where consumers can discover and buy food directly from small artisan producers. Foodzie raised $1 million from First Round Capital, SoftTech VC, Tim Ferriss, and several other angel investors after completing TechStars in 2008.

Starting a company is the hardest thing I've done in my life. It's like I'm walking into a final exam every day that is composed of essay questions on topics I've never studied. That's the reality for most entrepreneurs. Now imagine walking into that same test, but now it's multiple choice and you have someone who already took the same test sitting next to you who is telling you the answer is probably "a" or "b." That's how much easier business gets when you get the help of a great mentor.

When my Foodzie co-founders Rob LaFave, Nik Bauman, and I first arrived at TechStars, we went gangbusters on setting up meetings with any TechStars mentor who would give us the time. At the beginning of TechStars, we were in the business of meeting mentors. But then we realized that while we needed to engage mentors, we also had a business to run.

Mentors should fit into your business, which means at any given time you should only be working with a few, but their experience should match up with the challenges you face. We found that when it came to finding the right mentor, ...

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