Techniques For Effective Speed Menteeing Sessions

MindFrame Connect’s Co-Founder Brice Scheschuk offers tips for speed menteeship

Speed menteeing is a fast and effective mechanism for individuals to meet many mentors. At events such as Techstars, for example, founders can meet up to 120 mentors in 30 days in what’s known as “mentor madness.” 

Yet the idea of speed mentoring–meeting dozens of people in one day–can seem daunting and intense. But Brice Scheschuk, co-founder of MindFrame Connect, said that consciously embracing the experience helps.  

Scheschuk noted that “mentors want to help,” and shared advice for mentees on how to be as prepared as possible. Specifically, he shared advice from Ben Sanders and Wesley George, two founders of data technology startup Proof who had gone through Mentor Madness. They said, “even though our overarching goal was fundraising, we had a different specific objective for each of the mentors based on their background.”

Tools and tactics for speed menteeing

Scheschuk claimed, “the best founders get very structured with their meetings” and strongly recommended individuals plan ahead to increase their chances of success. Here’s the advice he shared. 

Bring a note taker: Scheschuk recommends that founders have at least two people attend every mentorship meeting so one can take notes while the other is speaking. 

Get to know mentors beforehand: “Know who your mentors will be in advance and craft your ask,” said Scheschuk. From there, he advises that founders learn about a mentor’s background and experience to see how they can potentially add value to their business. To further prepare, you can reach out to them on LinkedIn, look at their portfolio companies, and be ready with smart questions to ask them, said Scheschuk. 

Prepare your set of questions: Scheschuk recommended that mentees have questions prepared before the meetings to ask mentors. Questions should be grouped by theme, such as “talent, product, commercial, or capital,” he said. These questions could then be allocated to mentors as relevant. Scheschuk explained that some mentors will have a broad background and generalized experiences, whereas others may have depth in a specific area. As such, it’s important to tailor questions accordingly. 

Shorten and practice your pitch: According to Scheschuk, a critical piece is practicing your pitch to shrink it down, and tightening “up your verbiage,” so that you’re not using up your time unnecessarily. This will also help you stay on time during the short meeting. 

Cut each other off: Scheschuk recommends articulating a “quick rule of engagement,” that gives the mentor and mentee permission to “cut each other off using a constructive tone.” He went on to say that “the worst thing in speed mentoring is excessive talking and wordiness on single items that don’t add enough value to the overall needs of the mentee.” Instead, he said that mentees should focus on abbreviating points and questions. 

Establish your primary goals: Primary goals for speed menteeing may include connecting with mentors, generating interest in follow-up meetings, and gleaning insights from mentors’ experience and expertise. Your time is limited, so try to find a follow-up action for each mentor. Create a template before so it’s easy for you to follow, customize the first few sentences, and include your one clear ask to the mentors, Scheschuk advised. For example, say “you have a lot of experience in X, here is a problem we have, you could help us in this way.”

Resolve conflicting guidance: If you receive different advice from two mentors, ask if they are willing to attend a joint session. Then, have them discuss the point with you to resolve conflicting guidance. 

Remember to follow up: Following up with your mentors is key to keeping them engaged, meeting them again, having your questions answered, or being supported with the objectives you discussed. 

A framework for a 20-minute meeting

Scheschuk shared a framework from Alex Iskold, who ran Techstars New York for many years, for the 20-minute meeting. He recommends continuously practicing your pitch as a best practice. 

2 minutes: The pitch. The first two minutes are for the founder to articulate the founder-market fit. Scheschuk said to use this time to pitch on product and commercials, introduce your team, and share where you are at in your journey. 

1 minute: Product demo. If the mentor is interested and wants to see it, briefly demonstrate your product in a minute or less. 

10 minutes: Question and Answer period. Use this time to “volley back and forth” with questions to engage the mentor. This time should be used to “level set back to the core questions you’re trying to achieve,” said Scheschuk. Try to drive insights for your business, and determine interest in meeting again. 

5 minutes: Wrap up. The final chunk of time should be used to wrap up any loose ends, go over objectives, discuss the next steps, and plan if you should meet again.

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