Case: Through mentoring, Venture Cup Denmark wish to promote entrepreneurship among students
Venture Cup Denmark is an association, owned by the Danish Universities, who works to promote entrepreneurship among all university students in Denmark. One way they do this is through their mentoring programme Startup Mentors, which purpose is to help eliminate the gap between the students and the business community.Startup Mentors provides the students with a unique opportunity to get a relevant business mentor who can help them bring their business ideas into reality.
Venture Cup Denmark wants to be the connecting link between the university students and the business community in Denmark. In 2019, they matched a total of 72 start-ups with 124 mentors from the business community in their mentoring programme. The mentoring programme is a development program where entrepreneurs from the universities have an opportunity to get a professional mentor who can support them in their start-up process. The mentorship can also lead to a successful collaboration afterwards between the mentor and the start-up which subsequent can lead to an advisory board.
Keyvan Bamdej, Programme Manager at Venture Cup Denmark states ”the best outcome of matching some people is that they become a strong pair – that they become a success. Magic just arises when you match people who are passionate about it.”
In 2019, Venture Cup Denmark completed 6 mentoring programmes of a duration of 6 months each. The mentor/mentee pairs who completed the programmes were granted access to 19 partnering agreements and the opportunity to apply for 2 times DKK 50.000 in grants. Most of the participants in the mentoring programmes are full-time students.
Venture Cup Denmark choose to collaborate with KMP+ House of Mentoring, who have been responsible for training the mentors at 6 different workshops in 2019.
The mentors are all volunteers and therefore it was important for Venture Cup Denmark that the mentors got a professional experience at these workshops. According to Programme Manager Keyvan Bamdej, the mentor training also served as an extra motivation for the mentors. The mentor training was placed the day before the kick-off event, which was an advantage because it gave the mentors a better chance to get involved when meeting the start-ups.
”We have had 3 kick-off days during spring and 3 kick-off days during fall, respectively in Copenhagen, Odense and Aarhus, and that is what it is all about, that we gather the start-ups and the mentors, who have mutually expressed interest in each other. At the kick-off days they get the opportunity to present themselves and what they are working on.” - Keyvan Bamdej, Programme Manager at Startup Mentors.
At the mentor training, the mentors were presented with the Best Practice method on how to help a start-up in the best possible way as a mentor. According to Keyvan Bamdej, it was an advantage that KMP+ House of Mentoring provided the training of the mentors as it allowed him to focus on other aspect of the programme and make sure everything went right.
A changing Startup-world
According to Venture Cup Denmark, the start-up world is becoming more aware of how much value professional experts can add to start-ups. In general, it also applies for the former participants in Startup Mentors that they have become aware of how much a mentor can do for them. For a long time, the primary goal in the start-up world has been to get funding for your business idea, which the mentorship also assists the start-ups with. However, it can be difficult for a new start-up to know how to spend the money in a best possible way and in which direction their start-up needs to go. Therefore, having a mentor with a lot of experience is one of the most important things for a start-up. Common to the participants in Startup Mentors are, that they have become aware of how much a mentor can do for them and how valuable the knowledge that is passed on to their business is.
The role of the mentor is not to do the job for them, but to help them adjust, which should lead them to become smarter about themselves and their business sense.
Keyvan Bamdej clarify the benefits of having a mentor as a start-up” it is someone who can challenge them on their business understanding and ask those critical questions to make sure that they become aware of why they do, as they do.”
According to Venture Cup Denmark, it is also important to do some positive things for the mentors. Here, it is essential that they feel as a part of a larger community and network. The motivation to become a mentor in Startup Mentors is for some mentors that they love to pass on experience and knowledge. While for others it is the thought of getting to work with promising talents and new exciting business ideas that motivates them.
”The part where you pass on experience is for some of them the coolest thing in the world, while others think that it is exciting to work with new exciting ideas that are blossoming from the universities, and that is something they get to do through us,” states Keyvan Bamdej.
The mentoring programme strengthens the organisation’s network and knowledge
Venture Cup Denmark’s objective is to promote the Danish universities and to help students with business ideas – they do this through their experience, knowledge and network – all three things that the mentoring programme has helped strengthening. Venture Cup Denmark is especially pleased with the mentoring programme as it can fit into all types of business ideas. However, it is not only the start-ups that benefits from the mentoring programme. In total they have had 578 mentors, all of whom have contributed with knowledge and skills. Therefore, Venture Cup Denmark have now gained a huge knowledge base and pool of resources that they can draw on, also in their other offerings. Therefore, Venture Cup Denmark wants to continually develop the mentoring programme so it can continue and become a lasting initiative.
The development of the programme and expansion of the collaboration with the universities continues in 2020 under the leadership of programme manager Keyvan Bamdej – which includes an even greater focus on the mentors and on investors.
Read more about Venture Cup Denmark here: www.venturecup.dk/experts/