After mentoring 6 cohorts at EforAll South Coast, I can say it’s one of the most impactful forces for local south coast entrepreneurs to start a business.
If you’re coming across EforAll for the first time, it’s an accelerator to help local entrepreneurs kickstart their business. A non-profit that seeks out smaller market cities to uncover would-be founders aiming to create a sustainable local business.
Up until now, accelerators were mostly reserved for big markets like Boston, New York, or most notably — Silicon Valley.
When starting this podcast, I couldn’t miss interviewing Shelley Cardoos, the Director of Programs at EforAll, followed by Jeremiah Hernandez, now the Community Partnership Manager — two forces in our local community, as well as EforAll.
I jumped on the opportunity early to mentor startups in the program when Shelley and Jeremiah were first putting the framework together and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. If you ever felt the desire to to help other businesses and you’re up for a challenge, I suggest you get involved.
Six startups later, I’m often asked why I continue to mentor in the program, and the answer is simple (and selfish): I don’t know everything about business and I love learning.
EforAll is a great platform for an education in business, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out.
Why you should mentor at EforAll
Mentorship is a commitment, there’s no way around it. Starting a business isn’t something that just happens overnight, but an act that threads it’s way deep into someone’s professional and personal life.
Guiding as a mentor is a delicate act between providing advice while the entrepreneur pilots their turbulent new adventure. Gently applying what you’ve learned over the years in your business in hopes of a softer landing at each milestone they prepare for.
You’re not commissioned to steer the plane, but to offer a gut-check on their decision making, with a touch of reassurance. Here are just a few key pointers I rely on as a mentor:
- Don’t get over-excited: It’s easy to see a new business, get excited and brain-dump all of your ideas to the entrepreneur. Don’t do that 🙂
- Teach, don’t tell: Think back to a time where you didn’t know anything about running a business. Do the lessons found through failures stand out? Great, don’t tell them the answers, teach them how to solve them on their own.
- Open up to challenge: I love tech, software, and most things digital. It’s easy for me to want to align with that flavor of business, but I’ve found that stepping out of my comfort zone helps bring a new perspective to a startup and I genuinely enjoy the challenge of learning a new market.
Getting noticed and giving back
Whether you’re in this to become a mentor or to start a business, getting eyes on your business idea is one of the greatest payouts you can receive from the program.
This isn’t to overshadow the education and efforts the team puts into the accelerator program, but to highlight the supernatural momentum each founder finds themselves thrusted into when a new cohort launches.
Pictured above is from a “pitch night” where the top winner takes home $1,000 based solely on an idea. I presented an idea to help would-be web developers learn how to code and sell their services on the south coast and won the top spot. I quickly donated my winnings to an organization that was doing far greater work than I ever will.
The platform EforAll offers us isn’t one that cannot be measured in pure dollars-and-cents alone. Providing communities an opportunity to “make it” far exceeds a jackpot, and for that, I’m super-grateful they came to our cities.
EforAll can’t do it alone.
They need more mentors, readers, judges, and of course — entrepreneurs, to keep that momentum rolling. There is an enormous amount of energy spent each cohort, and it feels like we’re just getting started.
One critical area is bridging the perceived divide between Fall River and New Bedford, a point I’m sure to address in a many of the episodes on this podcast.
Recent trouble in Fall River’s local government certainly doesn’t help, but there are strands of traction taking place with the recent announcement of the South Coast Chamber.
At the end of the day, I challenge you to become a mentor or at least get your feet wet by attending a mentor mixer, reading some applications, or just reaching out to chat with the team.
Reach out to Samia Walker for more information!
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