Mentoring Social Entrepreneurs with DuPage Impact
Being a mentor for a startup or emerging social enterprise with DuPage Impact can take a lot of different forms depending on your skills, experience, connections and availability.
This may involve intense to occasional time commitments at the initial and critical stages of the Boot Camp, or in response to a specific issue. But your time commitment is entirely up to you.
To start, it’s best to get to know our portfolio companies and entrepreneurs. This can be done through a “speed-dating” style forum, or by teaching a one-hour session in your area of expertise during the Boot Camp.
Opening doors and making connections to helpful contacts is one simple way to help. There are also opportunities to listen to and support entrepreneurs during our Boot Camp and follow-on investment activities.
Once you get to know our companies, you may decide to take on a more intensive “super mentor” role with a portfolio company that’s a particularly good fit. We encourage mentors to identify portfolio companies that may benefit from their technical or industry experience, and ones that truly ignite their passion for creating positive change.
As a mentor, your experience with the portfolio company may position you for a decision to make a “side-by-side” personal investment in the business. However, investments are by no means required for participation as a mentor.
Mentors are not compensated but, based upon our experience, they do have a lot of fun imparting their wisdom, contacts and hard won experience helping new entrepreneurs thrive.
Below are some skills and experience that our mentors typically contribute – being a mentor is what you make of it!
- Candid assessment and feedback on founder/team skills and requirements
- Leadership skills and tips
- Staffing requirements
- Effort/skills required to build out idea
- Design/development stage review of product or service
- Technical challenges – creation of prototype product or service
- Patent issues
- Market opportunity knowledge and assessment
- Go-to-market strategy
- Sales and marketing insights
- Distribution schemes
- Competitive awareness and assessment
- Pilot or test opportunities
Pitching Investors & Customers
- Leverage helpful contacts and provide introductions
- Investor pitch templates
- View of business plan through a potential investor’s eyes
- Pitch practice/critique
Business Planning and Strategy
- Consult and refine business planning/strategic planning from investor perspective
- Reasonability of business plan assumptions and staging
- Structure of business plan
In addition to our investors who contribute their expertise to our portfolio companies, below is a representative set of our growing list of mentors:
Born and raised in Cabrini-Green and currently Founder and CEO of Rico Enterprises, John has more than 25 years of entrepreneurial experience creating many business operations in the information technology field. He is an active member of the Latino community, Chair of the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board, Chair of the National Association of State Workforce Board Chairs, and is an active mentor for many other businesses.
Judy is an experienced supply chain, operations and M&A executive who has been successful in corporate and consulting environments including global technology & telecommunications, CPG, automotive, insurance and financial services, healthcare, nonprofits, and helping develop private equity-funded industrial companies and privately owned companies.
Tim is an attorney and Certified Public Accountant with 20 years of experience advising individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations, public charities, private foundations, trusts, and financial institutions on a wide range of business transactions. He is also a founding member of the DuPage Foundation’s Next Generation Initiative and a member of its steering committee.
Ron, a veteran and leader for social impact endeavors, has decades of experience as a full-time business professor, business department chair and coordinator of marketing management internship programs. He has taught marketing, management, advertising, personal selling, retailing, human resources, business mathematics, entrepreneurship and accounting.
In his 20 years as an entrepreneur, Dan has utilized his expertise in UEO, SEO, SEM and project management as owner and manager of Dealer Fox, LLC. He has also mentored multiple startups through Tech Stars, an event hosted at MHUB in Chicago.
Passionate about business and policy, Nic Zito is the CEO of Rev3 Innovation Center, a mixed-use tech co-working space, and serves as Trustee for Wayne Township’s six cities.
President of CXJ Consulting and Senior Project Manager for a ERP VAR., Joe brings 30+ years of management and consulting experience with small and mid-size businesses. His focus has been in management accounting, supply chain and fulfillment operations, pricing and setting KPIs as Business Systems Analyst, ERP Project manager, CIO and managing consultant.
Justin, currently the president of the Association of IT Professionals as well as the national manager for Dell Technologies leasing program with the Chicago-based company CDW, utilizes his extensive background in technology and finance to lead and develop industry leaders.