Meet the Mentor: Daniel Shaw-Dennis

Our mentors are not only experts in their respective fields, but also seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders. They have a proven track record of success and are eager to share their insights and experiences with the next generation of innovators. Through their mentorship, they help startups avoid common pitfalls, identify opportunities for growth, and develop strategies for sustainable success.

At Stone & Chalk, we believe that mentorship is a crucial component of any startup's journey. By pairing founders with experienced mentors who can provide guidance, advice, and support, we can create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that empowers startups to reach their full potential. In the third instalment of the Meet the Mentor series, we met with Daniel Shaw-Dennis and gained some insight into his professional journey and his experience as a Stone & Chalk Mentor. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your professional background?

For the last 12 months, I've had the privilege of providing guidance to exceptional founders and their teams at Stone and Chalk. For over a decade, I was part of a bootstrapped software company that began in a modest Melbourne office before achieving global growth and a successful acquisition.

Throughout this journey, I was fortunate to be involved in various aspects of the company's growth, from the first customers in Australia to establishing a presence in new regions, developing our early channel program, implementing strategic marketing, and scaling our sales process and operations. I've collaborated extensively with numerous partners to create and refine go-to-market (GTM) strategies, as well as to explore and implement effective methods for monetising data. By leveraging this diverse experience I can offer insight that can aid founders on their growth journey.

I also have a strong background in analytics consulting, which has cultivated a deep appreciation for the importance of data-driven decision-making. I'm a big believer in utilising data for decision support.

How would you describe your experience as a Stone & Chalk mentor?

I am consistently invigorated every time I speak with founders and their teams. The dynamic atmosphere and exceptional talent within the community never fail to inspire.  The Stone and Chalk team in Melbourne are dedicated to supporting this vibrant community and I've thoroughly enjoyed supporting them.

What are some of your highlights/success stories from your time as a mentor with Stone & Chalk?

For me, it's the smaller yet significant moments - when the advice I offer or the experiences I share resonate with founders, helping them circumvent pain or accelerate their progress. Incremental wins can accumulate, ultimately making a substantial impact. I enjoy being part of those impactful moments.

What are your top tips as a mentor for startups looking to grow and scale their business?

  • Your first hires should be do-ers, not delegators.  Don't be wooed by fancy titles and make sure your people enjoy getting their hands dirty.
  • Pick up the phone. Don't rely on email communication when you can better gauge your customers, partners, suppliers etc. with a conversation.
  • Regularly use data-driven insights to inform decision-making and adapt your strategy as needed. This may be using your existing systems or manually putting everything in a spreadsheet every month. By understanding the growth drivers for your business and what changes, you will be better equipped to act swiftly and effectively.

What should founders consider when seeking a mentor?

Transforming an idea into a thriving enterprise can be challenging.  Mentors can offer guidance and reveal alternative paths that may have gone unnoticed. Embrace advice and constructive criticism, recognising that it stems from a foundation of support. The more open you are, the better equipped your mentors will be to provide the most effective assistance. Furthermore, mentors can help instill disciplines that enable you to scale your business effectively in the future.

What tips would you have for someone looking to become a mentor?

 If you are ready to actively listen and offer guidance, do not hesitate to immerse yourself in this dynamic community, it can be a hugely rewarding experience.

If you are a Stone & Chalk resident, you can join our MentorMatch program anytime. If this article has inspired you to become a Stone & Chalk mentor, please apply with us here.