Posted on October 5, 2017 by staff

Mentor ‘speed dating’ sets start-ups on road to success


A not-for-profit initiative aimed at connecting tech start-ups with potential mentors was hailed as a success this week.

Tech Manchester’s Meet the Mentor event took place on Wednesday 4th October, bringing together promising tech businesses and more than 60 newly trained mentors.

More than 500 individual mentor conversations took place over a 90-minute period at UKFast Campus, just south of Manchester city centre.

Creating an ecosystem of tech mentors is one of the key platforms of the Tech Manchester initiative, which has been backed by entrepreneur  Lawrence Jones, the co-founder and CEO of UKFast.

Among the businesses who attended the event on Wednesday, a total of 45 start-ups asked to be matched up with mentors.

Each start-up chose five mentors in order of preference. The mentors will then receive a list of their requested start-ups and choose the one they feel best meets their skills and personality.

Patricia Keating, project lead at Tech Manchester said: “What a day spent with an amazing, diverse group of people and ideas!

“Imagine taking over a whole building to dedicate it to mentoring for the evening? We had four areas across all floors in the UKFast Campus alive with thought-provoking conversation.

“We spent a lot of time, both before and during the event, planning the ‘dating schedule’ by researching each start-up and matching them to the best possible mentor.

“Like any great first date, both parties also did some pre-date preparations. Mentors received intense, in-person training before entering the programme to ensure they had the tools and frameworks to mentor effectively.”

Among the mentors who attended the event was Volker Hirsch, a mobile veteran with more than 15 years of experience as an angel investor, entrepreneur, adviser and mentor.

Hirsch is currently the chairman of Bibblio Learning and a venture partner at Emerge Venturelabs’ ed-tech accelerator. He is also co-founder of game and app development studio Blue Beck.

“I think it’s great that a figurehead like Lawrence Jones is throwing his weight behind this kind of event,” he said.

“I launched a similar initiative about 18 months called Tech North Advocates, which has a much lighter touch but tries to achieve the same thing in galvanising the tech community.”

Hirsch also outlined the importance that mentoring can have for a young tech start-up.

“I think it’s crucial, anyone who says they don’t need a mentor either doesn’t understand what they’re doing or haven’t really thought about it hard enough.

“I’ve been in business for longer than I care to remember and I still seek mentors actively. Over the years I’ve made mistakes and found that mentoring helps me to help others make other mistakes, make better mistakes.”