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Avari Blog

Why Would a Busy Startup Founder Be a Mentor for Other Entrepreneurs?

[fa icon="calendar"] Nov 12, 2013 / by Kevin Dykes

RetentionGrid is now AVARI. Read more about how we’ve grown in Our Story: From RetentionGrid to AVARI.

Kevin Dykes at Demo Day

Accelerators help young companies develop their ideas as well as reach the audience and the connections that they need. A typical program strives to help early-stage startups achieve the same amount of progress in three months that would normally take an entire year. The “secret sauce” of Startupbootcamp (SBC) is the high-level mentorship program, led by a group of experienced entrepreneurs who give advice and help open doors to consumers, investors and partners.

Our own CEO Kevin Dykes has been an active mentor for these first two seasons, providing guidance to several startups along the way. On SBC’s Investor Demo Day November 6, 2013, where this year’s class got their chance to pitch their visions, Kevin had the honor of introducing Reccy to a buzzing audience of 700 people.

Considering that Kevin himself is also a busy founder of a fast-growing, early-stage startup, one might wonder why he would spend any time and effort on mentoring and Startupbootcamp at all? Well, it turns out it’s a win-win all around. Here’s Kevin’s story in his own words...

I can put my reasons into three broad categories: sharing my experience, learning from other talented people, and access/network.

Sharing Experience

I'm a Web 1.0 veteran (translate that as being a bit older than the average startup founder today). When I began my first software company in my 20s back in the heady dot.com days, no programs like Startupbootcamp existed. There were very few entrepreneurship programs at universities, no Eric Ries or Steve Blank, no lean startup methodology, and most founders were not really seeking mentors or willing to share.

Over my career, I've gained a lot of hard-fought and sometimes quite expensive experience. I've learned how to raise money successfully and unsuccessfully, how to find the right co-founders and how to find awful co-founders, how to have a successful exit and how to have a company fail in spectacular fashion. And I've learned how to survive the process, dust myself off and go again. In short, it just seems a shame to not let others benefit from what I've learned from often stupid mistakes. :)


I'm still a startup founder, still an entrepreneur, and still trying to figure out how to do it better. I believe passionately in peer mentorship and spending meaningful time with other entrepreneurs to learn. Startup founders go through a special kind of hell — by choice — and it requires a support network. Hell, it actually needs its own 12-step program, but I digress.

By involving myself as a mentor, it gives me time on a semi-regular basis to quiet thoughts and slow the daily grind, and gives me space to recuperate and gain inspiration for new ideas and perspectives. I've had so many positive outcomes in my own product/business as a result of this small investment of time.


Last but not least is gaining access to amazingly talented and passionate people. I get to hang out with some really impressive founders and mentors — the network rocks. In fact, as a result of my experience on selection days for the 2012 program, I met two people who have become both good friends and now angel investors in RetentionGrid (thanks Leanne & Leah!) And, I get to spend time with the people behind Startupbootcamp — like Alex, Sophie, Wilken, and Lars. They have put together such an amazing program — really impressive set of people.

So, even though I find that my own bandwidth is my biggest challenge in running this super fast growing company, I still make sure that my responsibility as a mentor has room and time. And I would encourage all other founders to do the same — to make time and share during the process.

Topics: Events, News

Kevin Dykes

Written by Kevin Dykes

Kevin is a Co-Founder and the CEO at AVARI, where he is in charge of talking to customers, shaping strategy, and forging partnerships. He’s been building web technology companies since 1996, with a primary focus on product, go-to-market, strategy, and growth. He is father to two gorgeous girls and enjoys college basketball and BBQing.

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