Two entrepreneurs describe what it’s like to speed date for a mentor team!

Saraphina Churchill of Images by Saraphina:

Illustration by Kit Irwin of The Vision Scribe

The EforAll Cape Cod Fall 2019 Accelerator Program is underway!

It all begins with 15 new entrepreneurs getting matched with a team of three mentors. The 45 mentors consists of local business professionals (some of whom are also entrepreneurs) who have volunteered to impart their wisdom and guidance.

The mentor/mentee relationship is fundamental to the accelerator program. The Intensive part of the course is only three months long, however mentors continue advising the new entrepreneurs for the rest of the year. And, like all good relationships, it kicks off with an introduction and a first date.

The mentors are sent business idea descriptions and headshots of the new entrepreneurs. Meanwhile the entrepreneurs are sent headshots and a biography of each mentor. It’s kind of like an online dating profile, “this is what I look like and here is why you should swipe right.”

Except instead of swiping right, we were all shuffled into a room. Over the course of two nights each entrepreneur met with each mentor for 5 minutes. At the end of your 5 minutes a bell sounded, entrepreneurs stood up and moved on to the next mentor. If you have ever been speed dating, that is what it was like. Except this speed dating session was for people who are passionate about what they do for a living.

Afterward both the mentors and mentees rate each other on a four-step metric.

NO! — This seems really awkward.

No. — I’m not sure this is a good fit.

Yes. — I can work with this person.

YES! — PLEASE pair me with this person!

It was both completely exhilarating and absolutely exhausting (in all the best possible ways) to meet that many professionals in such a short amount of time to talk business. For me personally, it was the first time I had ever done anything like that. Once all the ratings are in the EforAll propreitary software plays matchmaker to figure out who is the best fit for each business relationship. Not only do they have to take into account who likes who but they also have to consider everyone’s schedule and meeting time availability.

An email from EforAll announces the team and potential meeting times. The mentees are charged with setting up the first meeting with their team of three mentors for their first real date, so to speak. The new relationships all start next week. These relationships will set the cornerstone for each of us mentees as we embark on our accelerated journey in building our companies from the ground up. Who knew entrepreneurship could be so romantic?

Kit Irwin of The Vision Scribe

Mentor Matching at eForAll was described as Speed Dating and I was immediately intrigued. Speed Dating hadn’t been invented until after I was married and I always wanted to do it.

This is why Mentor Matching is not like Speed Dating.

  1. With Mentor Matching, you are guaranteed to come out with a match, in fact three matches, while Speed Dating has no guarantees.

Mentor Matching occurred over two nights. The first night I met with 17 mentors. In the five minutes I had to speak with a potential mentor, I spent half the time talking about my business and the other half learning about them. By the end of the first evening, I never wanted to talk about myself again.

Miraculously, I found it easy to talk the second night when there were 21 mentors. I even talked with my husband when I got home that night.

Talking with so many smart people about my business, I was continually learning. Some mentors gave me ideas for new prospects for my business, others had ideas for improvements that I can use. Their question revealed areas that I need to work on. Also, I tested an idea for a direction I could take to see their responses. Talking so much about my business the first night gave me insights into my business, which is why I believe the second night was easier.

There were so many people that I wanted as a mentor, I am glad that the decision rests with a computer program and not me. Our schedules and opinions of each other will result in the matchups. I can spend my brain power on my business and not trying to figure out the optimal mentor configuration for me. I can’t wait to see who my mentors will be!

Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) is accelerating economic and social impact through entrepreneurship in mid-sized cities.