Managing support for early-stage ventures – a fast emerging role
In Silicon Valley support is everywhere, and it is increasingly immanent in London’s entrepreneurial world, with some high profile examples – promoted by a new breed of support managers. But there are other areas where it is still a distant prospect. Join us in exploring how best to manage support.
Next week: The Future of Innovation – nuggets from the Deloitte Annual Survey of organisations’ views – about how they will do it and what kinds of things they will do.
The most distinctive features of Accelerators (as short periods of intensive development for small groups of early-stage ventures) are the proactive nature and the amount of support that they provide for the businesses they nurture – especially in the form of mentoring (in many programmes mentors are in a ratio of at least half a dozen per team), yet many startups and SMEs even in Incubators and Science Parks are lucky if they have a single one.
Mentors tend often to be appointed simply because they provide a hand to hold, so is it failure to match mentors to individual needs that holds mentoring back? While the Business Growth Fund normally appoints a couple of Directors and then on their advice from time to time finds appropriate experts, advisers and mentors (http://wp.me/p3beJt-ak), the London Stock Exchange has launched its Elite programme of support with Imperial (http://www.lseg.com/elite), one or two VCs like Octopus Ventures (http://wp.me/p3beJt-ap) have evolved sophisticated regimes of support; and Accelerators like Startupbootcamp (http://wp.me/p3beJt-8N) and Bethnal Green Ventures (http://wp.me/p3beJt-2i) are highly proactive in the management of their mentors and of their programmes.
One of the most telling accounts that I have written recently has been about what startups in Accelerators said they valued most (they cited: supervisory facilitators, proximity to their fellow travellers, access to their various mentors, and the inspirational speakers they met (http://wp.me/p3beJt-a7)). I am running a project whose aim is to learn more from those on the receiving end about what it is that works best in terms of support for early-stage ventures – e-mail me if you are interested to participate.
Entrepreneurs may be passionate and determined people, but they do not necessarily know what they are missing. The managing of support is a new role: it entails keeping in very close contact with developing businesses, understanding what might help them at different moments, the ability to corral a host of potential supporters, and to bring supporters and entrepreneurs together successfully (see http://wp.me/p3beJt-9R).
Help us! We are looking at ways in which people who play this evolving role can contribute their experience to its development – on topics such as building a bank of supporters, identifying startups’ needs, finding specialised experts, matching mentors to startups, curating cultures of inclusivity, and programme management. If you are interested to participate in this, please e-mail me.