I work for Chargebee, a recurring billing and subscription management product used by thousands of customers in more than 53 countries and a proud GAN Partner. As part of the Chargebee team, I head up one of our strategic initiatives, called “Chargebee for Entrepreneurs,” where we work with accelerators and incubators to identify high-potential startups globally. We also offer comprehensive resources to these startups, including a software perk, educational workshops, and counseling in the form of one-on-one office hours.
These resources are meant to complement an accelerator’s programming, helping to convert an entrepreneur’s ideas into reality and the initiative itself was borne out an idea from our CEO, Krish, who’s empathetic to the journey that entrepreneurs take in starting a new business and trying to make it grow. It’s his way of giving back and helping other entrepreneurs.
The Importance of Mentor Office Hours
Having been an entrepreneur and starting a company three times before, I know that one of the greatest assets an entrepreneur has is time. Every day, an entrepreneur needs to ruthlessly prioritize how they spend their time building and growing their company. So, office hours should be a structured but limited time to get advice, spitball ideas, and share cathartic moments. It’s a safe space where founders should be vulnerable and open to get the most out of time.
Five Things to do Before—and During—Your Office Hours to Make Them Count
If you’re a startup, here’s what you can do to make sure you get the most out of your one-on-one time with mentors:
1) Set a Goal for why you’re meeting.
In the limited amount of time that you have with a mentor, what do you want to achieve? Most often, it’s a single burning question that you’d like answered. Or feedback on a direction you’d like to take the company. But, want to know an even bolder idea? Work on building initial chemistry with your new mentor in order to establish an “emotional investment,” something that could pay off in more mentoring sessions down the road.
2) Search for your mentor’s profile on LinkedIn.
There’s no excuse not to perform a simple search on LinkedIn in order to get at least a few details about your mentor. Even if you only have a few minutes, this is the quickest way to understand who you’re meeting with. Mentors typically have significant work experience and draw from those to better help understand your problems, as well as great perspective, given they’ve often walked in similar shoes before you. And, mentors who have prior experience as entrepreneurs tend to be more empathetic to fellow entrepreneurs compared to those who have only worked in one company their whole career. So, learn a few facts about them and let it lead to great conversation and great questions.
3) Research the company where your mentor works.
As with above, even with a small amount of time, do a bit of research on your mentor’s current company. You don’t need to study the entire website; sites like Crunchbase provide great summaries—including key activities like financing, previous press releases, or an idea of a company’s social media presence. If you are a potential customer that could benefit from its product or service, even better. Ask where or how it could benefit and grow your business.
4) Have at least one action item that you can ask from your mentor.
Mentors typically have a vast network of people from all walks of life. Ask your mentor to introduce you to someone that can advance your ideas and your company. Mentors also read lots of books and articles, listen to podcasts, and attend a ton of conferences and workshops. Ask them to recommend one or two that could be of benefit to you and your company.
5) Ask permission to follow up.
One of your goals is to win the favor of your mentor so they continue to invest in your relationship. Ask them if you can add them to your periodic company updates and if you can reach out for a next mentoring session. While there’s no promise of when or where it might happen, most people won’t decline the offer when asked in person.
Are you a startup that wants to work with Eric and the team at Chargebee? Great news—any one of the more than 10,000 startups that have been through an accelerator in the GAN Community can reach out to the GAN team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to create a high-quality connection between you and Chargebee. Not a GAN Startup? Consider applying to a GAN Accelerator today. You can find all of the programs in our global community here.