Accelerators: Death or Rebirth Opportunity of True Mentorship?


The first thing that comes to mind when referring to a Mentor is someone that has the experience and wisdom of having tried – and sometimes failed – before you and can help you, not in giving you the solution but in helping you figure it out.

Today, every worthy accelerator is boasting a very long list of mentors on their website ranging from famous local or international figures, successful startup founders, venture capitalists, senior executives at large corporations, consulting firms, lawyers, teachers, etc.

I can only applaude all of them for taking the time out of their busy lives to share their wisdom with startup founders and the community at large using a “paying it forward” mentality. Yet, I can not help but wonder what kind of “Mentorship” one can really deliver when hardly spending any time with the startups in question.

I too have taken part in many of these mentoring sessions and tried my best to give valuable or insightful advice but again, what effect did those have on the startups or founders that received them, did they happen to help or confuse them…not sure…one thing is certain though, it was likely too brief to be really valuable and have a long lasting positive impact.

It goes without saying that the quality of mentors varies greatly and some, while well known, might not have the “DNA” to provide you with the advice that is right for you or your company at that specific moment. Maybe it is because I studied finance and was a FINRA certified Investment Banker at some point in my life but it is a well known fact that any financial advisor is forbidden from providing specific investment advices, unless he has gotten to “know his customer” first. This means doing its due diligence, gaining as much information as possible about the person, its current assets, family situation, health, risk tolerance profile, upcoming life milestones, etc.

The equity founders own is likely their most valuable assets (or they sure hope it will become) and should therefore be managed with great care.  I am of course not advocating that all startup mentors get some sort of accreditation from a third party authority of some sort. But I am advocating that true mentors should spend time with their startups and founders and get to know them intimately. Only then would they be in the best position to, over time (and that means more than an hour or two over a 3 months period), provide valuable insight and advice that are tailored to the needs of that specific startup and/or founder.

In the days of Telemachus and until recently, it was the norm that a mentor would be assigned to an apprentice for the better part of his youth and even sometime long after, forming a strong lasting bound. between the two parties. As a Partner @bootstrapLabs I certainly appreciate, and take full advantage of the fact, that things are moving a lot faster these days. Be it in life in general or the pace at which one can launch a startup, build an MVP,  test distribution channels and acquire customers but I refuse to believe that true mentorship, which often creates life long benefits for the apprentice and mentor, can be imparted in a single “shot” or even over the course of a traditional accelerator program.

According to Wikipedia: “Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialog, and challenge.”

On the positive side, the creation of accelerator programs around the world has provided a standard framework to empower thousands of people to become startup mentors and share knowledge, experience, idea. This in itself could very well carry the seed of a true Mentorship renaissance. But as I pointed in the title of this blog post, founders should be able to read between the lines and take mentors access of accelerator programs for what it is, access; an opportunity to start building a mentor/apprentice relationship with someone they would not have met otherwise.

The best (and sometime serial) mentors are always overwhelmed with request from apprentices and getting their attention will always be a challenge. Yet I cannot help thinking that this is just a good natural filter and only the most percistent, perseverant founders will success in securing a true mentorship!

If you are one of those founders that went through an accelerator program or a serial mentor (you know who you are), I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic so feel free to drop a line or two in the comment section below. Thank you!


Scandinavian Startup Night at RocketSpace

We know it is last minute, but join us and meet founders of your favorite Scandinavian startups, among others Prezi CEO/Founder Peter Arvai, and hear them reflect on their journey to the Valley. The event is at Rocket Space, what BootstrapLabs and many of our startups call home in San Francisco.

Learn how the Scandinavian mindset plays in a startup context and how deeply ingrained social norms must be challenged to run a startup. Develop an understanding of why Scandinavians are hard workers in general – and why their startups are prone for success.

Register here:

Join BootstrapLabs founder and meet the best in Northern Europe on 16th to 18th of October 2012

Join BootstrapLabs founder and CEO, Nicolai Wadstrom as he keynotes Arctic 15 on the 16th of October this year!

Arctic 15 is the annual conference for Nordic and Baltic growth entrepreneurs. Two days full of action, including an invite only day for  founders, investors, C-level executives and our partners. Besides our own Founder of BootstrapLabs, great startups and networking, you will hear an amazing line-up of speakers: Founder of Evernote – Phil Libin, Founder of Zendesk – Mikkel Svane, Founder of Klarna – Niklas Adelberth and the Founder of Erply – Kristjan Hiiemaa.

Read more at the Arctive 15 website

Audiodraft launch the sound of Tim Ferris contest

Tim’s new book “The 4-Hour Chef” is coming soon. Now you have a chance to do the sound design for the teaser video. Go nuts! Any kind of styles, genres or moods are welcome. Be creative and you’ll be noticed. Vast amount of likes and shares for your entry doesn’t hurt either.

Read more at the Audiodraft contest page and on Tim Ferris blog.

Mancx Secures $3 Million In Financing and Opens US Headquarters

Our portfolio company Mancx Secures $3 Million In Financing and Opens US Headquarters.

SAN FRANCISCO AND STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, June 12, 2012 — Mancx, the only trusted community for business answers that allows for private individuals to securely buy and sell their knowledge with others, announced today it has secured $1.65 million in financing led by Almi Invest and Chalmers Innovation Seed Fund bringing the total money raised to $3 million. The money will be used to expand the world’s first community for paid business answers through social networks such as LinkedIn and Viadeo. The patent-pending Mancx platform matches incoming questions with the right person’s expertise while managing all aspects of the transaction. This ensures that the questioner gets the information he or she needs while the answering party gets fairly paid for his or her efforts.

“Mancx is there when you need the right business answers,” said Henrik Dillman, Mancx CEO and Founder. “Most Q&A websites only provide advice, opinion or self-promotion. Some of the answers are even too old to be useful. Our research shows that professional business users prefer answers they can trust from a community that can deliver ‘industrial strength’ information quality that is fresh and calibrated to their specific needs. Mancx matches users with the right people to answer their questions,provides an easy pricing model and lets users pay easily on the spot – similar to PayPal – so that they can be very efficient at every step of the process. It is perfect for executives, entrepreneurs, sales professionals and anyone who needs tailored information that either cannot be obtained by routine online searching or would take too much time to find. For business professionals, time is money.”

Unlike other services, Mancx offers the following benefits:

  • Handles answers in almost any form, from picture, sound files and cad/cam-drawings to .doc and .xls files. This is necessary since many business answers don’t come in just plain text
  • Allows for full anonymity both for buyers and sellers, while enabling them to contact each other for more information detail as needed
  • Automatically matches profiles and distributes by email
  • Manages the negotiation of price and expectations
  • Provides money-back guarantee and quality assurance

“Mancx is a great place to get business answers,” said Tim DeBenedictis, founder of the astronomy app SkySafari. “Whether I need detailed business intelligence, tailored information – basically anything I would bet my job on – I got to Mancx and get the answers I need.”

“Mancx Business Answers™ is the next generation of Q&A tools,” said Mattias Guilotte, Mancx CMO and Founder. “It is the first service with a global payment solution and a trusted community for businessanswers you can’t find anywhere else.”

About Mancx

With dual headquarters in San Francisco, CA and Stockholm, Sweden,Mancx.comis the only trusted community for business answers that allows for private individuals to securely buy and sell their knowledge with others. Winner of the “Hottest Startup in the Nordics/Baltics” at the Arctic15, Mancx is the world’s first network for business questions and answers through networks such as LinkedIn and Viadeo. The patent-pending technology behing the Mancx Business Answers™ community matches incoming questions with the right person’s expertise while managing all aspects of the transaction. This ensures that the questioner gets the information he or she needs while the answering party gets paid for their efforts.

Read more about Mancx on blogs and Media today





Audiodraft joins BootstrapLabs

We are exicted to announce that Audiodraft joins BootstrapLabs.

Advertising agencies, production companies and game studios in the US are pouring $5B into custom audio through an outdated process. Audiodraft is disrupting this market by creating the global marketplace for custom audio.

The creative production industry is struggling with complicated procurement and licensing to get custom audio. Audiodraft has created an efficient process and simplified licensing by connecting any company in need of custom audio to thousands of talented sound designers across the globe. Audiodraft offers an effortless marketplace to crowdsource custom audio production, through a contest model.

Big brands and agencies love Audiodraft:

To “Audiodraft” is already starting to become a verb in audio production.

Audiodraft emphasizes the meaning of audio branding. With Audiodraft you can get custom made music and sound design easily whether you need background music for a TV commercial, Online Video and content, theme music for a mobile game, or an audio logo for your company.

By coming part of the BootstrapLabs portfolio, Audiodraft will now accelerate it’s presence in San Francisco/Silicon Valley where Teemu Yli-Hollo, CEO/Co-founder of Audiodraft is already based. This means Audiodraft will accelerate the US market roll-out and Silicon Valley funding to capture the global market for custom audio.

BootstrapLabs is today also launching an Audiodraft contest to crodsource the audio branding of BootstrapLabs, check it out here!

Read more about Audiodraft…

Mancx joins BootstrapLabs

We are happy to announce today that Mancx joins the BootstrapLabs portfolio of startups that we accelerate from Europe to Silicon Valley.

Mancx vision is to make any and all information available at the right price. With a patent-pending knowledge trading platform and connections to the largest business networks in the world Mancx gives you new opportunities.

Mancx connects people looking for answers with those of who have them. Some users of Mancx are in search of that particular little piece of information that will change a business forever. Others are looking for leads to reach their next sales quota or maybe looking for that intriguing piece of knowledge to boost next morning’s presentation to the board of directors. No matter what your needs are, Mancx is the place to find what you are looking for. Mancx offers crowdsourcing of the most valuable information.

Read more about Mancx and sign-up to give Mancx a spin her!

European Demo Day in San Francisco with Startup Sauna

Come and meet some of the most exciting European startups here in San Francisco!

Together with our friends at Startup Sauna and I/O ventures we are organizing a demo day, so please join us and experience the Northern European and Russian startup scene right in the Bay Area! The stars of the day are Startup Sauna early-stage teams from Finland, Sweden, Russia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland that are going to pitch and demo their products!

We have drinks and snacks available, awesome guests and a special treat that most of the world hasn’t tasted before: Finnish Lake Water 😉

Venue: I/O Ventures (780 Valencia St. – between 18th St & 19th St)


  • 6:00pm – 6:30pm Doors open
  • 6:30pm – 6:45pm Tribute to the most awesome keynote ever
  • 6:45pm – 7:30pm Demo time
  • 7:45pm – 8:00pm Feedback, selection of the winner
  • 8:00pm -> Networking and aaaafteerrparttyy!

The startups presenting

  • Antslab – Application that helps people with diabetes track their condition by automatically downloading their glucose levels from their glucose meter to their mobile phone (Lithuania & Spain)
  • InBelly – Crowd sourced online- and mobile guide to educate consumers about food additives. (Lithuania)
  • Linkedviews – Small device which turns the mobile phone into a TV remote. (Finland)
  • Maxygen – 10 minute, 10$ DNA test with disposable cartridges. (Russia)
  • MobileBrainBank – A huge mobile developer community. (Finland)
  • Qminder – Mobile queue management app. (Estonia, winners of mini Seedcamp Prague)
  • Yodiz – Project management software for developers focusing on SCRUM and AGILE -methods. (Finland)
  • Zonear – Created Boilerbuild, which builds, optimizes and deploys HTML5 apps with one click. (Finland)
  • Ovelin. Creator of the educational real life guitar hero game WildChords. No. 1# Music App in 27 App Stores (Finland)
  • Zerply – The professional network for the Twitter generation (Bay Area, originally from Sweden & Estonia)
Looking forward to see you there!
More information and RSVP here!

Startup Exits Event

Startup Exit Event #4 is now starting to materialize, so please save the date for 19th of January, 2012 in San Francisco!

Join successful entrepreneurs and startup acquisition professionals for a special evening event in San Francisco on the topic of “Startup Exits.” Hear stories from entrepreneurs who’ve sold their companies– how they did it, what they learned, and what they would do differently next time.

The event is going to rock, and will give crucial insight for any VC and startup Entrepreneur, the current line up for the panel is made up of:

  • Ilya Fushman, Corporate Development, Dropbox
  • Bruce Jaffee, EVP of Corporate Development, Glam Media
  • Lorraine McDonough, VP of Corporate Development, eBay
  • Tom Duterme, Corporate Development, Groupon
  • Nathan Beckord, Principal, VentureArchetypes Startup Advisors (Moderator)

Prezi hearts Facebook: One click signup, embed prezis to your wall

Fresh from the Prezi blog:

Signing up for the free Public Prezi account has become even easier. Now you can sign up with your Facebook account, and start to create your first prezi immediately.

Embed prezis to your Facebook wall

Sharing nice prezis from our public library, or put your latest work to the test in your Facebook community became more effective as well. Paste the link of any public prezi as a status update to our official Facebook page. Your link will be converted to an embedded prezi that can be clicked through or set to full screen straight from Facebook. It works just like YouTube video embeds.

Please note: if you already have a Prezi account, you cannot log in using your Facebook account.

Read more…