When I began my journey of social entrepreneurship two years ago, I had an exciting idea, passion for change and a skill set I could leverage to take things forward. While these were all important, my biggest asset on this journey has been my backpack of mentors. It is the backpack that every entrepreneur needs, to not only survive, but succeed in the remarkable journey of entrepreneurship. Mentors come in different shapes and sizes (not all mentors have to be pepper haired and deep-voiced), guiding and encouraging you at the many crossroads, road blocks and bumps you will encounter.
In my opinion, the backpack of mentors usually has one, all or a combination of different types of mentors. At the expense of getting carried away with the backpack metaphor, I present to you four types of mentors:
The Compass: you’d be lost without them. These are the mentors that have years of experience under their belt, experience that gives them a unique perspective towards decisions that seem mind boggling to you. When you find yourself facing complex decisions and tough trade-offs, a skype call with these mentors can bring truckloads of clarity.
The Gatorade: This is your power booster, the mentor who fuels that fire in your belly. As an entrepreneur, the temptation to call it quits may lurk in the dark corners of disappointment and it is at times like these that you need someone to help you recharge, re-strategize and prepare for re-attack. In most cases, these Gatorades have fought their own share of disappointments making their commitment contagious and their struggle inspiring.
The First Aid Kit: These are the seldom used but intensely useful kind. You reach out to them when things are about to fall apart, think funding crises or scale-up challenges. They bring influence, power and networks that can prove essential in your hour of need. These are the ones you can depend on to pull you out of tight spots and buck you up for the journey ahead.
The iPod: What is a journey without music in it. These mentors add life to your days. They are the source of spark in the mundane everydays and the spirit boosters during the inevitable downs and lows. They are you partners in the dance of the life of a startup. They make every second of running a startup fun and infuse their infectious excitement and passion into the venture.
This is the survival mentor kit that is essential for every startup and GRID is extremely fortunate to have a host of mentors that fulfill one or more of these roles. Sometimes a mentor can be both a compass and an iPod, sometimes it can be just one, but whichever position they hold it is essential for a budding venture.
Here is to all the GRID Mentors, you make for a great backpack:
Shwetlena Sabarwal, World Bank
Fawzia Naqvi, Soros Economic Development Fund
Mike Trucano, World Bank
Dr. Sean Roberts, Elliott School, GWU
Jehan Ara, P@sha
Obaid Ullah Khwaja, Flikkable
Hamad Khawaja, Google
Every GRID success is a testament to your support and guidance! GRID could not have asked for a better team of champions!