The Entrepreneurial Mentor Finds a Problem and Solves It

This is my latest entrepreneurial journey. It’s the story of a mentor and angel investor becoming an entrepreneur again for the umpteenth time.

An entrepreneur is constantly on the lookout for pains and problems. Then he solves them. Little did I know I would stumble across a problem where the solution would marry the entrepreneur and the mentor in me.

The Problem

After leaving Google late last year (I had been heading up Business Operations for Google Fiber’s entry into Utah via the purchase of the iProvo fiber network), I resumed my angel investing and entrepreneur mentoring activity.

In early 2015, I made a few angel investments and joined several advisory boards. In doing so, I met with scores (maybe a couple hundred) of would-be entrepreneurs. I had forgotten how many entrepreneurs are still trying to start companies despite a huge lack of practical knowledge and without even knowing about the lean startup revolution that has swept the globe.

Simply put, too many would-be entrepreneurs lack basic “how to” business and startup knowledge. The broken higher education model fails to provide these entrepreneurs with practical skills. Other programs are spotty, underfunded, and feature inadequate instructors and mentors and often are not addressing the basic challenges.

The Solution

The burgeoning bootcamp phenomenon is a keen solution to the need for a scalable delivery system of startup entrepreneurial knowledge. In Provo, UT there are leading bootcamps disintermediating the traditional universities to provide skills-based education in the fields of software engineering (DevMountain) and digital marketing (Market Campus).

The next “knowledge and skills vertical” to succumb to the tsunami of bootcamp superiority is entrepreneurship. There is market demand for entrepreneurial skills training by talented instructors who have “been there, done that.”

In conducting market research, I spent an inordinate amount of time meeting with would-be entrepreneurs at breakfasts, lunches, and other gatherings. The need for experienced help is palpable. I had become frustrated with the inability of one-on-one meetings to stem the tide of mistakes being made by startup entrepreneurs.

I knew there must be a way to help these would-be entrepreneurs get seasoned help in a more scalable fashion. Most learners can’t just read a book and practically implement the knowledge. They need an instructor, a teacher, a mentor. There are not enough mentors to handle the demand with one-on-one solutions.

Thus, the bootcamp model will increase the scalability of providing hands-on mentoring help to entrepreneurs. The idea was hatched by those wanting a solution — those attending universities and those from the community had been asking me to start an “entrepreneurship school.”

Startup Ignition

After more than a decade of teaching thousands of university students about entrepreneurship and mentoring some who would go on to create multi-million dollar enterprises, I believe now is the time to lead out in a revolutionary approach to entrepreneurial education and skills training. If you are, or someone you know is, thinking about starting a business, starting one currently, or started one already and needs some help, then Startup Ignition may be for you or them. This is the place for those who need basic, but intense, startup help.

Check out an overview of our curriculum and read the FAQ for more details. The course will be a super-charged and up-to-date version of what top instructors like ours have provided at universities, but coupled with a fast-paced, practical mentoring. It will help startup entrepreneurs learn “what to do” and “what not to do.”

We think our course is a great value. It’s cheap by bootcamp standards, but we know every dollar is precious to a startup entrepreneur. Most entrepreneurs don’t quite get the process, details, and ramifications of decisions in the first few months of a company’s life. Startup Ignition should save them time and money. We are confident that just one nugget of knowledge we teach will save a Startup Ignition student more than the cost of tuition. And, unlike accelerators or incubators, participants don’t give up any equity to get all this help and knowledge.

Only a few weeks into it, and we’re having a lot of fun meeting entrepreneurs who want concentrated help delivered through the bootcamp model. The first cohort is looking good. In fact, we opened up a second cohort. Check out our course page for more info. Startup Ignition should be quite an adventure!


1 comment

  1. [FULL DISCLOSURE: John Richards is my Sr. Advisor and an investor in my company.]

    I wanted to attend this but couldn’t this time around. However, I sent one of my new employees for the sole purpose of getting him up to speed on where we are in our own startup as quickly as possible. The only problem was that he now wants to go start his own company! 🙂

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