Mentor Visit – Po Chi Wu

One of the great things about running Startup Boot.Camp is bringing experienced mentors in to talk to the startups. We had our first mentor visit recently from Po Chi Wu, an educator and investor who splits his time between Hong Kong and Silicon Valley.

When I visited Hong Kong briefly six months ago, Po Chi was the first person I met in the tech community. We spoke about what Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem needed and started to discuss ideas for what eventually became the 3-month startup bootcamp. I was happy to have him as the program’s first outside visitor.

Here’s a brief synopsis of Po Chi’s talk to the group.

  • Milestones and metrics can limit you if you chose the wrong things.
  • Make a list of assumptions for what has to happen for your strategy to succeed or fail.
  • There are high personal costs to being an entrepreneur.
  • Good mentors don’t give advice on what you should do, they help you determine the questions you should ask in order to figure out what will work for you. But since mentors are experienced, smart people it can be hard for them to take off their expert hat when they meet mentees.

Po Chi’s mentorship comment hit me. Years ago, I was starting to build my startup, I would go out to meet more experienced people and seek advice. Partly it was to hear outside perspectives, partly to meet good people. Soon I discovered that in startup-land, there is no advice shortage. If anything, you have to keep yourself focused amid the onslaught of different opinions you’ll hear.

Po Chi Wu with the Startup Bootcamp groupI still clearly remember the day we went out to meet two mentors, one after the other, and received two completely conflicting pieces of advice from them. And then thinking: at least one of them is wrong…

I suppose that’s why I appreciated Po Chi’s mentorship comment and want to make sure I’m taking the same approach with companies I talk to.

Last week, when I mentored at TechStars accelerator network member StartFast I remembered that experience while I gave a group talk and met the startups individually. The best comment I got from one of the startups: “We liked your talk because you didn’t give advice on how we should run our companies. Instead you talked about how to figure out how we should run our companies.”

Thanks again, Po Chi!

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