How business mentoring can make a difference – 6 case studies

In May 2012, the BBC announced a series of events to engage young adults in the London borough of Hackney, not normally known in recent years as an area of economic enterprise. Last week, I was invited to attend a radio recording, featuring 6 commercial initiatives by members of the local community, all in their 20s and who had received at least 10 hours of expert mentoring.

The event saw the competitors pitch their hopes and aspiration to a panel of three successful businessmen, who were known in the borough. Although there was a financial prize going begging, it was soon evident that the more important catch were the connections offered by the judges.

Mega kudos to everyone involved – it was a fascinating success. The six projects included: –

  • An aggregation service to compare university courses for school leavers
  • A media studio
  • An aggregation service for start ups seeking legal advice
  • A sports academy for distressed areas
  • Products for sufferers of dementia
  • Fun headwear and accessories

They were all given four minutes to present and a further four minutes to answer questions. With some irony, either they concentrated excessively on their business model but excluded the vision, or the other way around. Of the six, five already had some level of initial sales.

All clearly benefited from the mentors, who had come from different sectors of the business world and had given their time gratis. And one of the consultants told me how they had benefitted from the experience.

It was hard to choose a winner. However, judging from the reaction of the audience, the preferred pitches came from those who valued the “SUCCES” acronym from the authors of “Made To Stick“. Whatever you are selling, it should be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and have a story line”.

That is what mentors will be telling their clients – it is a safe methodolgy to help ensure that your product or service will be around for sometime to come.

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