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Why Mentoring for Startups Matters

Mentor Program Launch March 2019 at Stone & Chalk Sydney

As a Founder of a startup, there's a danger in assuming that hustling hard will get you where you need to be. Holding onto blind optimism that things will somehow work out for the best.

You might be lucky enough to have the bonus of support from friends and family, allowing you to bounce ideas and receive encouragement. But there’s another way to navigate the rocky road ahead – mentors. For a startup, there’s nothing quite like having a dedicated mentor to help your business accelerate at scale.

That’s why Stone & Chalk created its flagship Mentor Program, partnering with Stephenson Mansell Group, Australia’s pre-eminent executive coaching, mentoring and leadership development firm.

Our Head of Community Programs, Annie Le Cavalier, sits down with Founders to understand their specific needs, then matches them with high-calibre mentors through a bespoke program. SMG steps in to provide best practices in teaching both parties how to work well together and build productive relationships.

In a focused session at the start of the program and ahead of Founders meeting potential mentors, Stephenson Mansell Group runs a facilitated workshop for mentors and mentees. This boosts skill development in areas such as advanced listening and questioning techniques. It also provides a strong framework for mentors and mentees to get the most out of their initial compatibility conversations.

And the numbers prove it. Several research bodies have reported entrepreneurs who have received mentoring have found it instrumental to their growth. Take for example, Endeavor, a not-for-profit organisation focused on supporting entrepreneurs, reported Founders who have been mentored by top-performing entrepreneurs are three times as likely to go on to become top performers themselves.

A study by global logistics brand, UPS, also revealed that 70% of startups who received mentoring survived their first five years. That's double the rate of startups who didn’t have a mentor over the same period. The same study showed that 88% of Founders say having a mentor to lean on is ‘invaluable’.

It’s safe to say that the best mentors help future-proof a startup by fostering a culture of trust, helping Founders expand their network, providing vital lessons and listening to their needs.

Not only does mentoring expose startups to new ways of thinking, it sets fresh eyes on any challenges they may be facing. It’s a rare opportunity to talk through thought processes, and have an accountability partner who listens and challenges - whilst at the same time remains supportive, working alongside you to create positive change. Overall, this increases confidence to learn how to become a better Founder.

Our Mentor Program Launch on 6 March 2019 had 40 mentors, 30 startups and 100 initial matches.

But, it’s not all about business. Mentoring is a powerful tool to create a safe, open and honest space to share your experience of running a startup. Real talk, person to person. Taking off the mask of a Founder who's expected to have it all together. It’s a unique time where you can talk freely about challenges you are currently facing.


Last year, our Mentor Program connected over 40 top performing mentors to our startup Founders. Since June 2017, over 600 pro bono hours of mentoring took place through the program, which is equal to $250,000 of value injected back into the ecosystem.

Our tailored Mentor Program with assistance from Stephenson Mansell Group ensures mentors and mentees fully understand what exactly is involved in the process.

In the past, we’ve found our mentors enjoy giving back to the community through a pay-it-forward ethos. In fact, it’s not just the mentees who learn things, but mentors also discovered that they themselves have been challenged.

The mentor-mentee relationship is set up to be mutually beneficial, allowing real relationships to form by tapping into the power of collaboration when two minds are put together.


Chandra Iyer, Director at Pingal Technologies based at Stone & Chalk, joined the mentor program last year and was matched with a mentor who helped refine the message of their product, defining financial opportunities in the telecom space and provided valuable introductions within their client area.

He says, “After more than seventeen years in financial services, I thought I understood all the variables involved in building a business, but that wasn’t the case. I would say, you have to use all the help you can get. Third party perspective is something that you can’t think through on your own.”

Andrew Stein, Founder of Payreq based at Stone & Chalk, was also involved in the mentor program last year. He was able to strengthen his marketing and communications strategy, learning how to get the most out of the company website. An awesome outcome was that one of his mentors became a formal advisor in the company, helping to raise funds.

He says about the program, “One assumption I had was that a mentor is like a consultant that tells you all the things you’re doing wrong, but my mentors actually offered to do things and help out.”

We’ve just kicked off this year’s Mentor Program across our mega-hub spanning Sydney and Melbourne, building on the success of last year. Stone & Chalk, together with Stephenson Mansell Group, are determined to make this the best Mentor Program in the country.


If you’d like to find out more about our Mentor Program, click here.

March 2019

Filed under: mentors, thought leader


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