This sponsored post is produced in association with TiE.
If there was an entrepreneur formula, its fundamental factors would include a great idea, commitment, a fierce work ethic, and innovative creativity. But to take a startup from an idea to mass adoption, you need something more.
“In most cases, success has a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time,” says Manish Gupta, Board Member at TiE Silicon Valley. TiE is a global network of non-profit chapters promoting entrepreneurship. “Yes, you have to be smart, hardworking, creative, all of that. But many times we’ve seen that success comes from those things plus being at the right place at the right time — and knowing the right people.”
It all boils down to learning, access, and mentorship.
The good news is that all three components are becoming more easily available as startup ecosystems mature. And as more entrepreneurs from emerging ecosystems globally require learning, access, and mentorship, organizations like TiE help fill the gap.
Startup ideas fail when execution is not effective or efficient enough because the entrepreneur has limited access to information — they simply don’t have the learning required to make the right calls.
“Learning comes from multiple dimensions,” says Vipin Jain, Co-founder and CEO of 6D Bytes, a robotics-related startup currently in stealth mode. “You could be reading and learning on your own, you could be meeting with people and learning from them, or you could be accessing mentors.”
Indeed, learning can range from just keeping abreast of industry news and trends to proactively joining groups and participating in learning programs. TiE, for instance, runs a diverse set of programs throughout the year varying from technology sessions, investment 101 classes, and domain expert panels where entrepreneurs can gain access to the learning they need.
“Successful entrepreneurs have to do a great job of sourcing and filtering the plethora of information out there for relevance and deploying them in decision cycles,” says Gupta.
Beyond learning, a more challenging hurdle entrepreneurs face on the road to mass adoption is finding the right people who can move things along.
“First-time entrepreneurs may not have any relationships with venture capitalists and may not have access and understanding of who the channel partners might be to scale the business globally,” Gupta says, “Access to the right people is foundational to a successful enterprise or startup.”
Jain agrees. “A network of trusted people can help you connect with other people like investors, partners, clients, and talent you want to hire,” he says. “Getting to the right people very quickly is absolutely paramount when you’re starting your journey as an entrepreneur. You want to build a company and get to mass adoption really fast,” Jain says, “It’s the only way you can go from point A to point B in the shortest possible time.”
TiE aims to help entrepreneurs gain access to the right people through member and non-member programs. Members can also access the TiE Charter Member community. TiE has 61 chapters around the world, each with its own local resource of Charter Members who are successful entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives.
“Being part of such a community gives you instant access to those folks instead of having to make ineffective cold calls,” Gupta says, “and if you participate in TiEcon [TiE’s entrepreneurship conference May 6 and 7 in Santa Clara], you can have a face-to-face meetings with truly resourceful folks that might have been very, very difficult to break through and get access to.”
While entrepreneurs can learn and develop a network of contacts through various means, one of the best ways is through the right mentors.
“If you’re breaking new ground as an entrepreneur, you are dealing with a lot of ambiguities and unknowns.” says Jain, “It is very important for an entrepreneur to have access to mentors. They can ask you the tough questions, challenge your thinking, and make you think about things you will not consider otherwise.”
It’s one thing to be connected on LinkedIn. It’s another thing entirely to have a meaningful relationship with a mentor. To this end, TiEcon runs a “Mentor Connect” program where entrepreneurs can sign up and meet with potential mentors in fairly private sessions to start a dialogue that can lead to establishing that long-term relationship between them.
Gupta says many seasoned venture capitalists and entrepreneurs want to give back to the community: “The TiE Charter Member community consists of very successful individuals. One of the reasons why people sign up to become Charter Members is because they want to give back to the community — and becoming a mentor to new entrepreneurs is a very material and direct way of giving value back.”
Anand Oswal, Senior VP of Engineering, Enterprise Networking Group at Cisco, has had his fair share of mentoring promising startups. “A lot of times you have folks starting a company with just an idea, and when given the right mentor, I’ve usually seen the idea evolve into something more,” Oswal says. “They gain business perspective about solving problems. It’s not just an idea of a product but the whole lifecycle of the product, ensuring that it has business value attached to it.”
Oswal adds, that as a mentor, it’s exciting to see the whole process come together. “What you need for a product is different parts of the puzzle working together, he says. “So, a) you can either build them within the startup or b) you can partner with somebody to make it part of a larger solution.”
The road to mass adoption
Learning, access, and mentorship all tie together, which is why organizations like TiE aim to help entrepreneurs specifically across these three components. And while a tech success must indisputably start with a great idea, commitment, and creativity, it’s learning, access, and mentorship that will truly pave the road to mass adoption, eliminating dreaded speed bumps and dead ends along the way.
TiE’s entrepreneurship conference, TiECon, is taking place May 6 and 7 in Santa Clara with a focus on inspiring startups and entrepreneurs. Learn more here.
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