Mentoring and Judging Online

Selecting Mentors and Judges for Your Event

The mentors and judges selection process remains the same for Startup Weekend online. Be sure to invite mentors from a variety of backgrounds: marketing, technical, design, co-founders, product managers. Balancing diversity and gender along with skillsets is also extremely helpful. The event should also have 3-5 judges to evaluate the final presentations on Sunday. 

Participant to Mentor Ratio 

We know that mentoring online is different than what we are used to and can be challenging, especially with large groups. 

We recommend:

  • One mentor for every 10 participants (or 20 teams max.) 

  • Each mentor should commit a minimum of two hours of their time on Saturday

For example, if you have 100 participants, you will need: 

  • 10 mentors that commit one x 2-hour session that have 4 x 25 min slots 

  • 5 mentors that commit two x 2-hour session that have 8 x 25 min slots 


Online Mentoring Session

WE RECOMMEND: 

Have an afternoon check-in session and an evening check-in session. Plan the distribution of mentors similar to how a regular Startup Weekend would operate. 

Each mentor should commit a minimum of 2 hours of their time on Saturday.

You can use the mornings to run the pre-recorded workshops provided to kickstart the teams. This way, mentors can come in the afternoon and evening to really guide teams after they have had something to work on. See here for Techstars Recommended workshops.

Below are some options you can consider adopting based on your event needs and mentors availability. 

1:1 Mentor Session

  • Mentors can guide teams through 1:1 calls scheduled via video call. We recommend using Zoom or Google Meet for this. 

  • You can assign at least 2 teams per mentor for each hour where each team will get a 25 minutes slot with the pre-assigned mentor. 

  • Additionally or alternatively, you can create a Google Form that showcases the mentor’s availability and expertise so teams can sign up for 1:1s in a similar format of 25 minutes slots per team.

  • This is great for teams to focus on getting uninterrupted mentorship.

Group Mentoring Session

  • Mentors can share their expertise on a particular topic to multiple teams via Google Meet/Zoom.

  • This group mentoring session should take 1 hour. 30 minutes of skill-sharing  + 30 minutes Q&A.

  • You can create a signup sheet for skill-sharing sessions chosen that resonates best with the selected ideas. 

  • This is a great opportunity to connect different teams together.


Mentor Pairing Process

Have a dedicated team member that is your Lead Mentor Liaison to be responsible for pairing mentors with participating teams for Mentor sessions. 

  • Create a Mentor Signup sheet [Example] with Mentor’s name, Area of Expertise, LinkedIn and Available time. Share “Comment” only access with participants.

  • Create a video call link (ie. Google Meet) for each mentor. Each mentor will stay in the same link throughout the entire mentoring session and participating teams will move around. Assign at least two people to monitor and ensure mentors are in the right call with the right team.

  • Alternatively, Zoom breakout rooms can also be used for mentor sessions. Watch here on how to use Breakout rooms in Zoom

  • Announce Mentor Signup session and share Comment Only access with all participants on Saturday morning during kick-off. Teams will have until 11am to sign up for their sessions. 

  • Participating teams to comment their request with their team name.

Example 

  • Send a reminder to all participants on the event communication channel. The Lead Mentor Liaison should work on the pairing (around 15-20 minutes) 

  • Announce the confirmed sessions with mentors’ video call links on the event communication channel around 12pm. 

  • Mentor Session to begin after Lunch.

Zoom Breakout Room best practices 

Best practice for Breakout rooms includes having an operator, in addition to a facilitator, to manage breakout rooms and conversation (hand raising), waiting room setting ON to control session start times and to allow a closed main meeting room for mentor briefing sessions.

Managing Judges

Yes, even judges need to be managed, too! A few suggestions for keeping your event moving along:

  • Limit judges' questions to a soft 3 minutes per team - Judges may take a lot of time to answer their questions, so it’s good to advise them in advance to be brief and try not to engage in a dialogue with the teams.

  • Pass the mic to the “quieter judges” - some judges like to hear themselves speak. Work with your facilitator to get the less vocal judges more involved.

  • Have a quantitative scoring sheet - Judging is very subjective, and without a quantified standard, it can lead to endless back-and-forth and indecision. Using the judging criteria, a simple 1-5 scale for each can separate the wheat from the chaff quickly.

  • Give Judges Time to Reflect - Even judges that have been given a scoring sheet or electronic program that handles scoring need time to jot their thoughts down.

  • Let tiebreakers do their job - Even with everything in place, judges may still come to gridlock. An odd number of judges will resolve this. Inevitably, competitions like this will come down to the wire, so remind the judges that they did a great job and that nobody really loses Startup Weekend, etc.

Organizer’s To Do List

  • Start reaching out to potential judges as soon as possible, aim to have the jury panel confirmed 1 month before the event.

  • Send calendar invite to judges for the final pitching event and the briefing (include links to the corresponding video platforms).

  • Share access to the Judging Form with your judges (template here).

  • Share the Judging instructions with your Judges (included in the form template).

  • Plan for the judges and the judge liaison team member to call to choose the 3 winners.

  • Check your tech to make sure everything is set up for the pitches on your chosen Video Streaming Platform during Demo Day. 

Final Pitch Judging Process

To avoid technical issues, we recommend the organizing team to create a Final Pitch Submission Form for participants using Google form (example here). Participating teams will need to submit an mp4 file of their pitch video and a copy of their presentation deck.

See this Guide for more details on how to create your Sunday Forms.

Organizer’s Checklist

  • Announce presentation order to all teams on the Communication channel around 3.30pm and share Livestream link (Zoom, Google Meet, Youtube Live, etc) with participants, judges and the facilitator. 

  • Invite judges to the Livestream session at least 15 minutes before starting time and check all mics and cameras are working.

  • Assign one person to ensure only presenters have their mic on and the audience are on mute.

  • If using Zoom, you use Breakout Room to host a private call for judges to discuss their reviews and select the 3 winning teams. The reviewing process should take around 15-20 minutes. 

  • Count up the final scores, see the process below for more details. 

  • Communicate with the facilitator and encourage participants to network during the judging process.

  • Call everyone back to the Livestream to announce 3 winning teams live.

Selecting the winning teams on Sunday

There are two options for running the final presentations on Sunday:

  1. Pre-recorded videos of the pitches, shown to everyone in the audience + live Q&A with the jury

  2. Live pitching to the audience + live Q&A with the juryKeep in mind that you might encounter more technical difficulties if this option is chosen. 

Reach out to your Techstars Community Support if you have any questions about the final presentation process.

During Techstars Startup Weekend Online, participating teams will submit their final presentations and a video of their pitch via a Google Form on Sunday at 3pm. All teams will be invited to watch the Demo Day and Q&A session around 4pm. Each team will have 4 minutes to pitch (either by presenting live, or showing a recording of their pitch) and 3 minutes for Q&A.

Final Scores Process 

Once all the judges have reviewed and submitted their judging forms [launch example], one operational support member from the organizing team should total up the final scores. See below for step by step.

  1. Open the Judging Form, head to the “Responses” tab, at the top right click Create spreadsheet Export to Google Sheets.

  2. Add a TOTAL column after the “If you would like to share some feedback with the team, please share it below” Column to add all the scores from each judge [ enter formula =SUM(D2:G2)in cell H]

Example

3. Create a new FINAL SCORES tab within the Form Responses spreadsheet and add the following columns; Team Name, Judge’s Name, GRAND TOTAL 

Example

4. Enter the total from each judge from the Responses Tab 

Final Scores process sheet example

Click here for Sunday Judging Form Final scores sheet

If you have any questions about the final judging process, feel free to reach out to your Techstars Community Support.