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Four kinds of mentors can help your startup journey: Anand Deshpande

He stressed on the need to access one’s network, do a thorough homework before selecting a mentor

pune Updated: Sep 16, 2018 16:25 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,mentors,Anand Deshpande
(From left to right) Girish Bhagawat MD, India Nivesh ; Ganesh Natrajan, founder, 5F world; Anand Deshpande, founder CEO, Persistent Systems and Abdulla Hassan, CEO, Dhow Capital at the Alumni association of IIT Kanpur, Pune Chapter’s Startup master class 2018 on Saturday.(RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO)

Anand Deshpande, CEO and founder of the ₹6,000 crore IT firm, Persistent Systems, had some valuable lessons to share with the startup audience at the Alumni association of IIT Kanpur Pune Chapter’s Startup master class 2018, held in Pune on Saturday.

“ How do startups become successful? I looked at my own journey and thought of all the things that worked on my growth trajectory. There will be several advisors, mentors that startups will access in their lifespan. Over the years I have personally used the services of a lot of mentors and there are basically four types of mentors,” he said.

The first kind according to Deshpande is the “Dronachary-Eklavya model. I used to look up a lot of people I admired, l Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and read about them. They could not personally advise me but I learnt a lot from reading about them. This I call the Dronacharya-Eklavya model where the mentor is not aware of the mentee using his experiences to learn.”

The second type is the Board of Advisors (BoA). “These” said Deshpande are very effective for startups. But the issue is where to find them. The world is full of mentors, advisors there is not shortage. But my advice is to have not more than four or five BoA else you will have too many people with too many views. Ideally you should have people with different skill sets, finance, technology, marketing and so on. No point having all finance guys as advisors.

How you select your advisors is also very important. It is very important that you have a mindshare of your advisors. They should think of your company whilst travelling or taking a morning walk. Not just when they come for a meeting. They should be available when you need their help.” He stated that it is important to remember that it is the founder who will take decisions and not the BoA.

The third type of mentor is the one with domain knowledge. “Sometimes you need to know details about one particular aspect of your business. You need to consult him just for that point and no more. These people will have expert know how on their subject. These are the main experts you access for a particular need.”

The fourth kind of mentor is the Krishna-Arjuna kind. “This type of mentor is the one who will sort out a problem for you, manage a crisis. Your regular BoA may be too much into oyur bsiness sometimes to give you an impartial view. SO at times like these you need a Krishna kind of mentor.”

Deshpande stressed that one must do one’s homework well whilst choosing a mentor. “Simply going by big names will not help. A Shahrukh Khan on your BoA cannot do much for your business, he simply won’t have time for you.” One must access one’s network, do a thorough homework before selecting a mentor,” said Deshpande.

First Published: Sep 16, 2018 16:24 IST