Mentoring for the Cleantech Open
We seek experts and specialists to work with our accelerator companies in a cross section of business including:
- General business coaching
- Customer development & value proposition
- Sales/business development/marketing
- Technology/product validation
- Business model
- Financial planning & funding
- Recruiting & building the team
- Completing and refining investor presentation
- Elevator pitch coaching
Why consider becoming a mentor?
Q: How do mentors benefit from volunteering with the Cleantech Open?
A: Every mentor has a unique experience. Generally, however, we find that mentors have enjoyed making the connection to new exciting start-ups in their field, keeping up with current industry trends, connecting with other members of our network, and paying it forward. Most successful entrepreneurs and experts have received help from key advisers in their past and understand that it is now their opportunity to do the same. At the core of our mission, we seek to support innovation and disruptive solutions, you will be able to interact with cutting-edge concepts and refresh your own perspectives. As they say, the best way to learn is to teach!For many, the satisfaction of giving something back is enhanced by making a concrete impact on moving our economy forward, and doing so in a sustainable way.
Q: Can I mentor teams in a different region from which I live?
A: Yes. Just indicate your interest when you complete your online profile. Your preference will be noted. We will do our best in the matching process to accommodate the preferences of both mentors and participating companies.
Q: As a mentor, how much time will I be expected to give?
A: In general, you should expect to spend one hour per week with your assigned company. Based on company needs and your expertise, the interactions may differ depending on the stage of the process. If you and your team are willing and interested in spending more time together, it is completely up to you.
Q: How many weeks will I be a participating mentor in the program?
A: The mentoring program launches after the application deadline in early May through the conclusion of the Accelerator in November. Many mentors recognize a beneficial bond with their matched start-ups after the Accelerator year has concluded and continue as valued advisers to their team. The option is at the discretion of you and your team.
Q: What events am I required to attend, and are they in my region?
A: General mentors working with companies accepted into the Accelerator are invited to attend the renown boot-camp Academies in June (in the Bay Area or Boston). The latest concepts in launching a business are covered and offer mentors an opportunity to stay updated on these topics as well. Mentors are also invited to join their companies to additional in-person events including regional clinics/workshops (Jul-Aug), regional innovation summits (Oct), and the national Global Forum (Nov). Mentors are entitled to participate in many of the programs for discounted or free admission rates.
Q: I would like to take in as much as possible. Is there a schedule of events available for the next Cleantech Open session?
A: Yes! Stay up to date on upcoming events across our programs by Cleantech Open calendar.
Q: What are the different types of mentors?
A: Please see below for a list of mentor types.
Q: What sort of qualifications are we looking for in a mentor?
A: We are looking for experienced entrepreneurs and cleantech professionals (retirees welcome!) who are willing to spend some time and energy with a young company. There is no exact time limit on what we consider to be ‘experienced,’ but we ask that at the very least, you are very familiar with the areas you plan to provide mentor-ship and have several years of industry or functional specific knowledge.Mentors come from various walks of life, experience, and disciplines. It is required that you have a strong desire to help others, and share your knowledge without the expectation of monetary or other concrete reward. Prior entrepreneurial endeavors, experience with start-ups, young companies, and emerging technologies are of great value to participating companies.
Q: What if I don’t get matched up with a team? Am I still in the mentor program?
A: We engage unmatched mentors in a variety of other opportunities. Our companies are typically matched with general mentors in May – June while other types of mentors are engaged throughout the accelerator time-line (May – November).
- Matched Mentor Replacement – based on historical experience, a certain level of mismatches, mentor availability, or team conflict may lead to a change of mentors originally selected for teams in the program. These situations are typically apparent early on in the accelerator cycle (July) but may occur at any time as situations evolve and change.
- Project Specific Work – projects will occasionally arise for teams who have special requirements or are in need of additional help to get them past specific hurdles. Expertise required and length/time of engagement can vary widely. These needs should become apparent early on the program cycle but may be identified later in the process as well.
- Business Clinics/Workshops – these clinics are consulting sessions on a variety of topical areas and take place in each region in the summer. We need several mentors to help us execute on these sessions.. Please let us know if you have an interest in working and providing your expertise at one of these regional workshops.
- Mock Judging – Prior to submitting their final deliverables and presenting to expert panelists, each company is offered a chance for a test run. Mock judging mentors offer to listen to the Accelerator company’s presentations and offer feedback. Outreach for this aspect of the mentor program typically takes place in July and August.
To sign up as a mentor, start by clicking the "SIGN UP" button at the top right corner of this page.
Generalist Mentors Experienced professionals with proven records of success in leading early stage businesses. Cleantech industry experience is not required, but is helpful. These general mentors become key assets for the entrepreneurs that are accepted into the Accelerator program. In the context of the Accelerator, Generalist Mentors become an integral part of the team coaching in association with the eight modules and supporting the entrepreneurs with feedback for final deliverables such as the investor pitches, financial models and summaries. After the Accelerator concludes in November, many mentors often become trusted advisers for their teams as they scale their businesses.
- Coach teams through deliverables development
- Provide feedback on all aspects of the business
- May attend education and training events along with team (i.e. Cleantech Open Academies or workshops)
- Work with or help identify Specialist Mentors to provide specialist coaching
- Proven experience in high-growth (scalable) early-stage entrepreneurship
- Ability to quickly become a useful, trusted advisory to accelerator companies
- Willingness to participate, help out, debate, engage proactively with teams
Required SkillsIf multiple Generalist Mentors are assigned to a team, one mentor should be selected as the “primary mentor.” This mentor will take the lead on such roles as compiling mentor feedback, helping to drive agenda for meetings, and acting as the mentor contact to the Cleantech Open Regional Mentor Chair and staff. Generalist Mentors are committed to at least one hour every other week of assistance and mentoring. They are welcome and encouraged to attend the Cleantech Open Academies, the Business Clinics/workshops, and also be present during Mock Judging. Depending on space and regional availability, the mentors may sit in on final judging by experts, and also are welcome to attend the Regional Innovation Summits in October and the Global Forum in November.
Specialist Mentors Specialist Mentors are subject matter experts who act as resources for one or more teams in the Accelerator. Typical Specialist Mentors are Director or VP-level executives at companies large and small who are recognized leaders in their discipline.
- Have opportunity to facilitate training and workshop sessions during Cleantech Open Academy
- Lead Business Clinics/workshops in the regions where teams present functional aspects of their businesses for feedback
- Work with Generalist Mentors to provide functional coaching to team as needed
- Provide deep expertise in key functional areas which may include but are not limited to:
- Finance (finance modeling, P&L development, financial performance benchmarking)
- Marketing (positioning statement, pricing, value prop. development, marketing, product launch,
- strategic partnering)
- Engineering (product development, architecture, innovative designs, design for manufacturing)
- Early stage fund-raising
- Digital and online presence
- Interaction with university and federal labs (technical validation)
Sustainability Mentors Sustainabilityt Mentors are Specialist Mentors with expertise in sustainability. Each team has access to a Sustainability Mentor from a pool of sustainability experts identified by the regional Sustainability Chairs. The sustainability mentor's role is to provide mentor-ship to the teams that seek advice, and support for integration and advancement of triple bottom practices for deliverables and investor pitch. Mentors receive a basic orientation to Cleantech Open process and available resources, but are expected to have knowledge of basic sustainability principals.
Student Interns (MBA Students or recent graduates). Whenever possible, the Cleantech Open pulls in student interns who act as hands-on resources to the semifinalists. Typical tasks include:
- Secondary market research via the internet
- Business case development and financial modeling
- Assistance with preparing the company pitches
Depending on location, we will also assign student intern mentors to work with our companies during the summer academies and/or summer regional workshops and clinics. It is a perfect chance to receive hands-on experience working with a start-up company in exciting growth industries.
Business Clinic/Workshop Coaches In the month of August, each region conducts a series of Business Clinics. During these 60-minute one-on-one consulting sessions, participating teams receive in depth assistance with core sections of the worksheets (business planning) and investor pitch from subject matter experts. Business clinic consultants are often sourced from the Mentor Program database and are matched with sessions that relate to their field of expertise. Mentors can be asked to act as the Business Clinic coaches, consulting in the fields such as:
- Client development
- Early Stage Investing
- Legal - Corporate and
- Marketing & Media
- Human Resources/Organization
Mock Judges Mock Judging is held prior to the final presentations to expert judges. Mentors and other experts are invited to watch the semifinalists' practice pitches. The purpose of these sessions is to provide companies comments and feedback that will help them focus on final updates to their messages and pitches prior to final evaluations.