Mentoring enables young entrepreneurs

When we were a 20-person company doing fairly well, Chander Mohan, the founder of Punjab tractors, challenged me to create a 200-person organization. Later, when we doubled and were struggling for sales, Ajay Tewari, CEO of Smart-Data, and the then vice-president of TiE-Chandigarh, spent an hour with my wife (my co-founder) and me, and told us how he solved problems in HR and sales long time ago.

Challenges and practical advice from my many mentors at TiE – Sanjeev Bhikchandani at Naukri and JB Singh at Access Infotech to name a few — have helped us in our journey to few hundred people, with offices in the US.

At TiE, we believe mentoring is the raison d’etre of our group. When you have a challenge, speaking to someone who has solved a similar one at your size can make the difference between make and break. A good mentor will challenge you to have bigger goals. Sometimes, a mentor can open doors; lots of times, a mentor provides examples of how they did it; and few times, lend that shoulder for you to vent. Our membership structure, too, is set up to promote mentoring – charter members pay significant fees and spare time and energy to provide mentorship to associate members.

Mentoring is a two-way street and mentors, too, look to learn from the experience. Lots of times, mentoring a startup forces them to reexamine their assumptions. In Chandigarh region, TiE runs one of the largest volunteer networks for formal and informal mentoring. As part of our formal mentoring programmes, we conduct mentor matchups where we invite mentees and mentors to mention their interests, and match and track the engagement.

At TiE events, there is a larger opportunity for informal mentoring, we focus on topics of interest, like scaling sales, intellectual property rights, technology, hiring and retention.

A number of these activities converge at TiECON Chandigarh, an annual conference with about 1,000 attendees where we get together startups, funding agencies, and inspirational speakers who can inspire entrepreneurs, would-be entrepreneurs, and students from the region.

This year, TiECON 2018 will be held on 8-9th March at ISB, Mohali.

By: Alok Ramsisaria

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