Mentor Thoughts

Each of the Venture Up teams have been paired with a couple of amazing business mentors to provide advice and support. We asked a couple of these mentors to tell us a bit about their experiences with the programme so far.


First up: Adrian Falvey, co-founder of Touchtech and Creative HQ alumni

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What attracted you to be a part of Venture Up?

I’ve recently had two children finish up their high school education and having followed their journey I’m not convinced that they’re well prepared for the fluid work culture of the 21st century. Their education seems to have prepared them better for work in the 1960’s then nowadays. Venture Up seems to be trying to address that by encouraging kids to think for themselves and make their own opportunities.

What about the team you’re mentoring inspired you to work with them?

1. The ‘Loan Busters’ idea of helping students find internship work in their chosen field actually augments that whole Venture Up idea really nicely. As well as learning about entrepreneurship the next generation really needs help picking a correct career choice and have the opportunity to try out that choice in a real work situation. They also need help to deal to the crippling debt that society burdens them with, before they even start work. This team seemed genuinely interested in bridging the enormous gap between our education system and the actual needs of the modern workplace.

2. I won’t lie – it was neat that they were an all female group. Women are under-represented among successful small/medium business owners and in my industry (IT) it’s particularly apparently. We need more of them. I’m keen to do my bit to help encourage them.

Tell us about how you worked with your team, and the progress you have witnessed…

I’ve been really impressed by their confidence and maturity. They were a little aimless when I first met them but once we teased out the concept they’ve really latched onto the idea and run with it. It’s great to see how Steph has stepped up to the leadership role and (apparently) how well they’re working together.

Any other thoughts/comments?

It’s not clear to me, and I also think to some of the students, whether the ideas of the program should be taken further, or if this whole thing wraps up when they go back to school. In the case of this group they’re all scattered over the country, so it’s going to be really hard for them to progress the idea. I’m concerned that this could dishearten them.

The groups seemed to have the idea that at some stage they needed to join the whole funding pitch circus to progress their idea. There are many alternatives to raising investment by selling equity and I hope that these we’re explored in the programme.

Next up, Joseph Slater – founder of Six Barrel Soda

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What attracted you to be a part of Venture Up?

I was quite lost when I was their age and would have liked an opportunity like Venture Up. I thought my experience could be relevant to some of the groups. I wanted to expand my skill set by working with others on their projects.

What about the team you’re mentoring inspired you to work with them?

Their project is somewhat similar to my business so I have more experience than say a tech start up. They seemed very eager and driven to get it going and I thought I could help with a bit of direction and structure.

Tell us about how you worked with your team, and the progress you’ve witnessed

I tried to leave them to it and for them to come to me with problems, as I didn’t want to just tell them what to do. We organised a few meet ups where I helped set direction and advised on problems they were facing. We also set up a messaging service where they could ask quick questions. After the first few weeks they didn’t need a lot of help. They have learnt a lot from the program and have a lot more structure as a group, they seemed to naturally fall into roles and have achieved a lot.

Other thoughts/comments?

It has been great seeing them try to get things off the ground. I think some of the groups/members are seeing it as a business incubator and some as a ‘starting a business’ guide which is good as long as they work out what they want from it and see both options as a success. It’s going to be hard for most of them to actually turn these in to businesses but the lessons are valuable for when they are ready down the track.

And lastly, Melissa Clark-Reynolds, founder of Minimonos

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What attracted you to be a part of Venture Up?

I want to see people succeed. I love YES (Young Enterprise Scheme), and I saw this as such a great extension to it.

What about the team you’re mentoring inspired you to work with them?

We are all gonna die one day, and we all know people so we know people who are going to die… I like the idea of being able to collect stories and pictures about the people I care about. In today’s world so many of my friends are spread around the world, and it won’t always be possible to get to their funerals. I like the idea of different aspects of someone being able to be collated by their families, often we only know one angle on a person’s life.

Tell us about how you worked with your team, and the progress you’ve witnessed…

They have come to grips with competitors, go-to-market plans and their Value Proposition. The team is smaller and better formed than when they started.

Other thoughts/comments…

Whether they go ahead or not with this idea, I want to keep an eye on whatever they do next. There are some stars in here.

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