Mentorship Masterclass with the HighTech XL

In a rush a few last days I forgot to write that I was invited to be a mentor with a newly established startup accelerator, HighTechXL in Eindhoven.  Technically-speaking (pun intended) it’s a franchise of the famous StartupBootcamp engine, and in many ways it follows its approach and the ways of working. However, there are a lot differences, too, which makes it different, and in many ways unique.

Or rather – will make it unique, hopefully, because it has just started, and the first wave of startup will be arriving by November only.  RIght now the call is still open, and the team is busy promoting the new camp, inviting new teams to apply, and selecting the candidates.

Finding mentors and preparing them to work with the teams is very important (and often omitted) a job; as a part of the process, HighTech-ers rung a Mentor Masterclass, that I attended yesterday in the HighTech Campus:

Guus Frericks, co-founder and managing director of the HighTechXL, updated on the latest news about the camp, that are quite impressive, having in mind it’s the first call AND it was the summer time when all the promotions was happening. Both the amount of applicants and the media coverage are very high (not sure I can tell about the figures, but I could at least mention the piece published by TechCrunch, which is itself quite an achievement, after that the team got known really internationally).

We then listened to the story of Michalis Boloudakis, from Greece, who founded his start-up, Kinems, with the help of the Amsterdam-based StartupBooktacmp. Kinems developed game-based learning method for children with multiple learning disabilities, but it wasn’t so much the content that Michalis shared with us, but his experience of working with mentors, and the help he received from them (as well as the challenges he met in the process – there were quite a few 🙂

We then got a couple of presentations about Business Model Canvas from the team members (Broos Bakens and Carolien Sandee, if I got it right). It was ok to refresh people’s minds about BMS, but at the same time (as it was mentioned by a guy from Accenture, of people in the audience had to be told about this hyper-used model, they probably shouldn’t be here). Not a friend-making statement, but correct.

The ‘fun’ part started with the presentation by Shinjan Dasgupta, from the newly started company Proxible; their idea is very brave, and can be summarized as “we will make IoT happen” (I omit a few intermediary steps).

Again, the content of their planned offer (enhancement of people’s experience and blending online and ‘real’ worlds) is not so essential, what was interesting is the enactment of the mentorship support that can be provided for such a company by the HighTech XL. This was played really in a ‘here & now’ mode, and – as often happens in such interactive session – was both exciting and difficult to do.  People (there were about 30 mentors in the room) were keen to help, yet they had been also quite critical to the idea – or may be their key help was about to be critical?

But this was not just criticism for the sake of criticism, it was rather a collective, network thinking aimed to help to the guys to push their idea further and played it right (or at least less wrong).

I hope that the team did benefited from the exercise – although it was not always easy for them to swallow of the comments and suggestions.

But at the end it all worked pretty well, they got both ‘food for thought’, but also quite a few immediate, practical leads or at last suggestions (besides a well-deserved bottle of wine):

All in all, a very good session, and I look forward to work with this mentor community in the future.

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