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
- Sustainability/circular economy expertise
- Energy/cleantech industry expertise
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.
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 an 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 a 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 Sustainability 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 mentorship 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.