How to Get the Most Out of Mentors

Mentors are one of the most valuable resources an entrepreneur can tap into. They can push you out of your comfort zone and seek out new experiences. Mentors can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. They can also save you from having to learn lessons in the business world the hard way.

Finding a mentor that is a good fit for you can be challenging and once you have found one the challenge is not over. Getting as much value as possible out of your mentor is paramount. Their time is valuable and the best way to demonstrate your gratitude and respect is to be prepared for each meeting you have with your mentor. At Remarkable, Tim Prosser and Kate Jenkins are two of our mentors. We asked Tim, Kate and Ben Reid (our Entrepreneur in Residence) to share their top mentoring tips for startups in order to get the best outcome possible out of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Tim Prosser

Tim Prosser

Tim Prosser is an experienced IT consultant with more than twenty years of experience supporting C-suite executives and teams in the Information Technology industry. He helps clients extract the maximum value from their technology. At Remarkable he helps our founders to create the maximum value for their startups. Here are some of Tim’s top points on mentor relationships:

What role do you play as a mentor?

“Our role is to listen and bring the unknowns out the shadows for your startup. There is a lot of rapport and empathy building. When invited, we offer advice, access to our networks. We don’t have answers to all the questions. Instead we offer advice on how to go about solving the problem and acquiring the knowledge necessary to do so.”

What is the best way to build a strong relationship with a mentor?

“Make sure you say thank you to the mentors and acknowledge that you’ve used their time and the insights provided. Demonstrate gratitude – remember to thank mentors in all of your communications with them. This builds goodwill and long term relationships. Thank them in emails, over the phone, in meetings, at events etc. If you haven’t acted on their advice, that’s fine but it’s a good idea to communicate to them why you didn’t.”

Ben Reid

Ben Reid, Entrepreneur in Residence for Remarkable
Ben Reid, Entrepreneur in Residence for Remarkable

Ben Reid is a well respected and sought after mentor having founded 3 companies and mentored, managed or co-run 5 accelerator programs and been lead mentor for 8 startups, as well as developing extensive product management during 20+ years of product building across enterprise, SME and startups. Here are some of Ben’s top tips on selecting and working with mentors:

How should one go about selecting a mentor?

“The right mentor is a balance of a ‘Skills & Experience Fit’ and a ‘Cultural & Personality Fit’. The time that they have available & their willingness to contribute also comes into play.’

How should entrepreneurs get the best results possible from mentors?

“Have two mentors in a conversation. You could get a better outcome because they are competing with each other – healthy competition of course!”

Do mentors know best?

“Mentors don’t have all the answers or always get it right but in saying that, if you hear multiple mentors in a row saying something, there’s a good chance they are right. Look for the patterns in their advice.”

Kate Jenkins

Kate Jenkins
Kate Jenkins

Kate Jenkins is the Founder of Be Your Brand and has more than 15 years experience leading award-winning campaigns for major brands such as British Airways, Singapore Airlines and the Sydney Opera House. Kate is happy to share her insights and learnings from working in with big brands to help the Remarkable startups to think big. Here are a few of her tips on making the most of mentor meetings.

How should one prepare for a meeting with a mentor?

“Know the mentor. You can stand out from 95% of other startups by doing your background research on the mentor before you meet them. Do a quick search of their LinkedIn and latest tweets and check out their businesses.”

What is the best way to start a conversation with a mentor?

“Always provide context of what you’re up to. We’re not living your startup day in and day out, so you need to brief us at the beginning of each meeting reminding us of your business of what you are up to in your journey. Keep mentors in the loop on what you’re up and your successes – they will be your biggest advocates at the end of the day.”

While mentors love to share their experience, no one likes to waste time. By choosing the right mentor and ensuring that you come to mentor meetings prepared you will both get more out of the mentor-mentee relationship. Always remember to say thank you and even give them credit when possible. Our mentor network is made up of a truly incredible group of passionate people. They are a big part of what makes us Remarkable.

Find out who our Remarkable mentors

Highlights from the San Francisco Tech Summit

Ever get the sense you’re on the verge of something truly incredible? I had a palpable sense of this last week when I arrived in San Francisco for the Summit on Advancing Innovation in Assistive Technology. I was there as part of the team from Cerebral Palsy Alliance who hosted a Summit on Advancing Innovation in Assistive Technology in San Francisco.

Roadmap planning for communication stream

It was a gathering of some of the world’s top scientists, technologists and engineers from universities like Harvard, Cornell, and Brown, as well as corporate representatives from Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, as well as other technologists from across the globe (Israel, Europe, Japan, Canada, etc).

Over the two and a half days, presenters shared 15min lightning talks on their technology and on the final day, we worked out a road map for future collaboration and action. I also had the opportunity to chair a session of industry leaders including experts from Facebook and Microsoft speaking about their push for technology that is inclusive of people with disability.

Some of the most impressive businesses I met were:

Dr Walid Soussou from Wearable Sensing with Pete Horsley
Dr Walid Soussou from Wearable Sensing with Pete Horsley

Voiceitt – the world’s first speech recognition technology designed to understand non-standard speech.

Seismic – a new integration of apparel and robotics called Powered Clothing – think exoskeleton that goes under your clothes.

Embodied Labs – creates embodied, virtual reality patient experience labs for healthcare trainees and professionals.

Facebook’s Silent Interfacenon-implanted devices that allow you to type directly from your brain without using a keyboard at 5 times the speed of what we type into our smart phones.

Dr Leigh Hochberg from Harvard explaining BrainGate
Dr Leigh Hochberg from Harvard explaining BrainGate

HAL – (or Hybrid Assistive Limb) this exoskeleton assists those with physically disabilities to move enhancing the users own thoughts.

Microsoft – developed standardised protocol for eye tracking devices and have developed a wheelchair controller that utilises eye-tracking.

Over the coming months the plan is to develop out a road map and build a global strategy around disability technology.


Getting To Know Mentor, Tony Stephens

Tony Stephens is the Director of Client Engagement at Jobs for NSW – the NSW Government’s agency dedicated to Transition NSW’s economy by working with those companies that are creating the jobs of the future. Previous to this role, Tony worked in strategy and innovation in business leadership roles across a range of business environments from startups and growing SMEs to multinational corporations in the medtech and healthtech sectors.

Tony has been a mentor for Remarkable for past cohorts and this year he is working with the Founder of NumbRay, Peter Simpson-Young. NumbRay is creating personalised neuro stimulation devices for kids with Cerebral Palsy.

We asked Tony to tell us more about himself and his Remarkable experience.

What are your areas OF expertise when it comes to mentoring for Remarkable?

My core expertise is in strategic marketing – in particular identifying a value proposition that can create a platform for a compelling business vision and narrative, and exploring the conditions that are necessary for this opportunity to be adopted.

Having operated in a wide range of business environments, I can assist founders to build a credible story and articulate what they know, and to be realistic about approaching the uncertainties and opportunities of growing a business.

What inspired you become a mentor for Remarkable?

Being a mentor gives me an opportunity to continue to learn the ways in which we can address disability with the increasing capabilities of technology and information insight. Having led businesses myself, I also know it all starts with the founder: their motivation, personality, self-awareness, as it will be these capabilities that enable them to navigate the risks and rewards that lie ahead.

Are there any particular parts of the accelerator program that you look forward to?

Demo Day. It’s the day that provides a reference point on the journey of the founders which is hopefully very memorable for them.

This year, you’re working with NumbRay, how’s that going?

I am looking forward to working with Peter Simpson-Young. NumbRay is an ambitious proposition in its field; it’s early stages but has great potential. I have seen some technologies radically surpass their expectations (e.g. Cochlear) and others were just not ready to deliver a reproducible benefit to the individual. I’m excited to see what the future could hold for NumbRay.

Peter Simpson-Young, Co-Founder of NumbRay

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you’d recommend others look at?

David Skok’s Forentrepreneurs.com. So many businesses I see may have a business model but they have not thought through their customer acquisition economics and lifecycle value to the business. If the business model doesn’t work at a customer level – then the business will never deliver.

We’d love to hear your advice for the teams. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your work life that you would like to pass on to the startups?

Listen (it’s been a lifelong journey for me!).

Two Minutes with Thomas Gourgand, Co-Founder of Spacee

Thomas Gourgand, Co-Founder of Spacee

We sat down with Thomas, the Co-Founder of Spacee to find out more about his startup and his Remarkable experience so far.

Spacee is an online platform that links the supply and demand of accessible accommodation and workplaces.

What inspired you to start this?

Madeleine (Madi), CEO, came up with the idea after more than six years working in the care industry. The original idea was to link people with disability to specialist housing but this quickly grew to the general housing market in order to democratise accessibility.

how did you get involved?

I knew Madi’s family before I moved from France to Australia but we met properly once I arrived in 2015. Madi and I worked on our first startup for more than a year but we realised that only a scalable tech solution would enable us to create the business we dreamed of. In early 2017, we met in a cafe to talk about a new idea Madi had. The idea was an online listing platform for specialist disability accommodation. Once I’d heard about the thousands of kids being placed in aged care because of the fact that they couldn’t find any accessible homes, I was on board. Since then, the idea has evolved into a scalable platform that includes every accessible property.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing with building Spacee and how do you think Remarkable can help you overcome this?

Our main challenge is to change the perception of accessibility within the real estate market. Remarkable and its partners can help us with shifting this perception in Australia and around the world.

What parts of the Remarkable accelerator are you most looking forward to? Are there any parts of the program that you’re nervous about?

Sales and Investability are important factors that we need to master and Demo Day is the part I’m most nervous about for us but we can handle it!

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you’d recommend to others?

I would recommend “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel; “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries and “ColdFusion”, an Australian Youtuber focusing on the latest tech trends and company stories. TechCrunch and The Verge are also good online publishers.