“The biggest challenge mentors and advisors face is discerning who to work with,” says Jeremy O’Krafka, Founder of MentorNetwork.ca
Jeremy was the force behind the world’s largest business mentoring event. He says:
“45 per cent of our over 200 applicants said that their biggest problem was finding funding, but the feedback that we got from the 168 mentors who participated was that the real problem is that the startups are not ready for funding.”
Resolving that disconnect is key to new levels of productivity.
Mentors, Advisors and subject matter experts play a vital prospecting role, filtering startups and separating the wheat from the chaff. Almost all of this work goes unrecognized and unrewarded. Their motives fall within a continuum of financial and social capital interests.
“TIE members do it for the joy of giving back,” says Deepak Bhagat, a Charter Member of TIE Silicon Valley and a member the TIE Angels Steering Committee.
“Our Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) love to build companies. They don’t do the Lion’s Club. They enjoy the stimulus and view creating value as a type of altruism,” adds Tom Rice, a member and organizer of Plug n Play’s, Sunnyvale based EIR program.
Bloggers and event organizers who focus on startups exercise influence. But how can we begin to understand how much impact these players really have?
Barter and gift economies are two ancient forms of trading that are inefficient, opaque, illiquid, bound by geography, limited by social connections and suffer from relatively low levels of productivity. Yet they are the dominant forms for how we allocate time, money and attention to innovation. “Venture capital is a Mafia world,” said one VC during our customer development interviews. And we wonder why the world is a bit of mess?
The Cdling platform and Cdling Scores, denominated in CD$ (i.e. a twitter friendly spelling of “seeds”) will bring transparency and mediate this huge, global and rapidly expanding existing market of social capital. Even if real money prediction markets are not legalized in the United States, which will enable us to make CD$ convertible to dollars, there is lots of room along the continuum to financial capital for you to experience consequential ROI.
You are entering a market optimized for:
- information flow
- social credentials
- reinforcement of your innovation identity
- recognition, and,
- a network structure that supports innovation (efficiency of weak ties)
- sanctions, and,
- propagating a culture of innovation.
While most will describe Cdling as another social networking platform, we think the spillover effects of publishing will be more important to our goal of improving the allocation of resources to game changing innovation. Our Advisor, Yale’s Olav Sorenson published some relative research on this while he was at the London School of Economics.
Of course, academic experts will understand any game of “publish or perish”. Universities and colleges who are serious about embracing innovation and getting better at commercialization, should welcome an approach to evaluating experts based upon their reputation at the intersection of knowledge and successful application.
We are confident that their students will want to compare their potential Profs’ penchant for supporting budding innovators. Competition for students is stiff. The best curriculum in the world is published, free and available over the internet. The question is, “How do you distinguish that MBA?”. When Cdling Advisor Paul Silva ran a pilot using prediction markets to support decision making for the Angel Capital Association of America, he was quickly able to recruit around 100 students from five schools across Massachusetts. They get it.
“Dig deeper, though, and Cdling brings intriguing transparency to the rest of the Silicon Valley ecosystem.” George Anders, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Startups’ Best Patrons, Forbes, Mar. 8, 2012
For this story, George first asked us to compare Stanford faculty to the PayPal Mafia but that would have taken another day at the time.
And then there is the emergence of crowdfunding in the United States. That is when everybody gets into the game of innovation.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of innovation and looking for quality deal flow as an investor, consultant or crowdfunder are sound motives for engagement as a mentor but if you are not sitting at Buck’s in Woodside, your “opportunity to view” is limited to your personal investment of time and quality encounters that you can arrange with local entrepreneurs who are working in the space that you can best add value. Wouldn’t you be better to take a few minutes a day and a portfolio approach through a platform that rewards you?
“MENTORready” is a term developed by O’Krafka. If you are approached by a Cdling listed startup with an incentive for you, you can be confident that they are seeking succinct focused input. They are open, coachable and clearly working with a framework of etiquette that respects your time, attention and expertise.