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If this is your first Youth Startup Weekend as a mentor, you might be wondering how the structure works and what the role expectations are when you’re here!

Rest easy, dear friends, because here we are with a brief guide on what to expect, tips on being an impactful mentor and an overview of what the weekend entails.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, I’d like you to envision an adult that had a significant impact on your childhood, an idol or someone who simply inspired you along the road to where you are now. Your role, at its very core, is to channel that person and be that for these students. On top of having an understanding of the startup world and your selected area of expertise, you are a “grown-up” that is showing them that they matter simply by showing up. Showing them you believe in them with your attendance speaks volumes. So… go you!

The Schedule

If you refer to the event schedule, you will have a great overview of what will be going on. So I’ll simply be delving into what to expect during that schedule.

Friday-

  • Students are meeting each other, and participating in a rapid- fire pitch session. They are asked to come with no pre-existing businesses (in fact there are rules in place that they are not allowed to come with something already created). They present a problem they see, a suggested solution and the type of team they need.
  • Students vote with sticky notes for the top 10 ideas (number changes based on head count… max team size is 7). Mentors are asked to circulate the room, ask questions and help assist in forming the team. Make sure the teams aren’t forming because they’re all friends, but because they can work together. 
  • Teams are solidified, and everyone goes home!

Saturday-

This is mostly a heads- down day. We are getting team tshirts donated from Brand X, so the teams are asked to create a company logo before working on anything else so we can send the logos over and get everything printed before their final presentations. Deadline is 11am.

  • Mentors meet before the students come in to go over the existing teams.
  • When students show up, we do a quick and easy tutorial on how to utilize scrum boards. The purpose of these are not only to keep the students on track and organized, but to let mentors know what they are working on and how they might be able to help
  • In the afternoon there is a new round of mentors that comes in, and there is a mentor huddle where mentors can speak to what their team might need and help figure out who else can come in and assist
  • **It’s important to note that one of the most helpful things to do while mentoring is try to stick with your team for a good chunk of your time. This helps build trust, and they typically will ask for more guidance when they feel comfortable with you. We don’t place mentors with teams, but feel free to circulate and find the right fit.

Sunday-

  • Mentors help with refining the business model and helping them with their pitches
  • Some students were finished a bit early, but it was really easy to tell who had spent a good chunk of time practicing and who didn’t. This time around I encourage mentors to help not only with the practicing but to give some practice judge questions!
  • Students pitch to the judges, ultimately there is one prize!

How to be an Impactful Mentor

  • Don’t tell your team what to do or take control. Yeah, that’s super hard when you know the ‘right’ answer but this is their time to explore different options
  • Use intentional question- asking to lead them to conclusions. If they ask you what to do, try leading them to an answer through questions. They should be solving problems and using you as a resource, not getting all of the answer from you
  • These students are bright and wildly intelligent and they’re entrepreneurs right now! Talk to them like adults, not 5-year-olds
  • That said, don’t be a jerk and crush dreams.
  • Look at scrum boards, ask how the teams are doing and listen. “We’re great” is the answer all of us feel naturally inclined to give. Understand that through direct and pointed questions you can get somewhere
  • Ask the other mentors in the group how you can help

Hard and fast rule

  • You cannot, at any point in time, hang out alone with a student. Not for an interview, podcast, photo op, or 1on1 discussion. There are huge issues with that and we’ll all (including you) be in a WORLD of trouble. They’re wicked smart, but still youth.
  • Never ever utter the words “that isn’t possible.” Ever. Never.
  • Never.
  • Not even once.

We are SO excited to have you as a mentor, and can’t wait for you to see these future change-makers and feel the amazing sigh of relief that our future is resting in some remarkably compassionate, intelligent hands.



Kay Transtrum