You’ve heard of speed dating and speed networking. Now comes speed … mentoring.
Set for May 19, the program is an outreach by the state’s year-old Business Mentor NY initiative and is designed to match experienced businesspeople with new entrepreneurs, with the goal of creating broader – and, we hope, longer-lasting – relationships.
Introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his 2014 State of the State Address, Business Mentor NY has attracted more than 750 volunteer mentors in its first year and claims 500 successful matches with guidance-seeking entrepreneurs.
To date, volunteer mentors have represented a wide range of professions, including lawyers, accountants and experts in fields ranging from communications and information technology to human resources and public relations.
“The program has really taken off,” said Buffalo businessman Howard Zemsky, Cuomo’s handpicked commissioner of Empire State Development. “The website is filled with hundreds of mentors ready to help startups and established small businesses take their company to the next level.”
That’s pretty much the plan for the May 19 event, when the state teams up with LISTnet and LaunchPad Huntington to provide free advice to entrepreneurs in three “20-minute, high-impact” sessions.
Empire State Development, which administers the Business Mentor NY program, held it’s first-ever speed mentoring event March 2 in New York City, in conjunction with the Turnaround Management Association. That event attracted more than 70 entrepreneurs and mentors there.
Mentors scheduled to attend the Huntington event include “a few of the likely suspects,” according to LaunchPad Huntington Director Phil Rugile, among them Angel Dough Ventures CEO Andrew Hazen, eGifter founder Tyler Roye and Accelerate Long Island Executive Director Mark Lesko. But that’s only part of a list that should ultimately include about 20 mentors, Rugile noted.
“We’ve got a bunch,” he told Innovate LI. “We’ve got some volunteers from Nixon Peabody, EisnerAmper and the Long Island Angel Network.”
With about 20 mentors expected, organizers are planning to cap the number of entrepreneurs at around 60, Rugile noted, since “it’s one-on-one discussions and it can’t go on all night.”
“It’s all about quality,” he added. “If we cap it around 60 or 64, with three 20-minute sessions, that should be about the right mixture.”
Not sure you need a mentor? The Business Mentor NY website suggests that 82 percent of startups that receive professional mentoring survive after two years, besting the national rate of 69 percent. Mentored businesses also do better financially, increasing revenues six times more than non-mentored businesses. And half of all mentored businesses create at least one new full-time position.
Other stats provided by Business Mentor NY: Women (61 percent) and minorities (47 percent) represent large percentages of mentored entrepreneurs, and roughly one-quarter of all mentored entrepreneurs remain in touch with their mentors after a year or longer.
Corporate sponsors of the May 19 event include Empire State Development, St. Joseph’s College, Jericho accounting firm Grassi & Co., Northport software company Applied Visions and California-based TriNet, one of the largest national human-resources providers for small and midsized businesses.
The state program is conducted in partnership with MicroMentor, a proprietary online mentoring initiative of the nonprofit Mercy Corps, a global aid agency focused primarily on providing relief to areas hit by natural disasters, armed conflicts or economic crises.