Entrepreneurship: The value of cross-sector mentorship
By Masyitha Baziad March 29, 2016
- Provides the harsh but honest feedback young entrepreneurs need
- Capital is important, but strategy and business understanding are crucial
ROME was not built in a day, and neither are startups. It is a long journey for many entrepreneurs, fraught with ups and downs, and its fair share of uncertainty.
“What are the things we need to anticipate? What are the next steps? What have we done wrong? What are the right things to do? These questions haunt entrepreneurs every day,” says Cybreed founder and chief executive officer Gibran Huzaifah.
“Capital and funding are not the only things that matter – getting someone who can help and teach you how to navigate your business is also crucial.
“Mentors are the ones who can slap your face while everyone else is patting your shoulder saying you're doing a great job,” he adds, speaking at a panel discussion at the Endeavor Indonesia ‘Mega Scale-Up Clinic’ in Jakarta last week.
Cybreed is an agricultural technology company that came up with the automated fish feeder system eFishery. It secured undisclosed pre-Series A funding from Aqua-spark and Ideosource last September.
Gibran (pic) became an ‘Endeavor Entrepreneur’ after he was approved by the organisation’s international selection panel (ISP) in Dubai a few weeks ago. This means that he’ll gain more access to mentoring, including from global mentors.
“Criticism may hurt, but the first thing we have to do if we want to be an entrepreneur is to be open-minded,” he says.
“Let more experienced people come and give their insights on your business, get the discussion going, and get as much advice as possible from different industries professionals.
“But never forget the fact that you should be the one who understands your business best – take all that advice, bring it back and discuss it with your team, and pick the best and most suitable,” he adds.
Indeed, Gibran believes that next to access to capital, mentorship programmes are an important piece to grow the startup ecosystem and entrepreneurship in Indonesia.
“Access to capital will have no results if entrepreneurs do not know how to grow their business with it. Continuous mentorship programmes can help entrepreneurs to do so,” he says.
Hanifa Ambadar, founder and chief executive officer of Indonesia’s largest female online community Female Daily Network, says that it was her mentors who convinced her to rebrand her startup.
“I was excited at first, with Female Daily getting lots of traction without much effort, so I started to push female topics on the platform – I thought it was the right thing to do,” she says, speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) on the sidelines of the Endeavor Indonesia event.
That is, until she met global mentors in 2014 who “slaughtered” her with questions about her business model.
Hanifa says she will never forget the experience, which had left her speechless.
“But that experience is the reason why Female Daily Network is now focusing on the beauty segment.
“I realised I needed to focus on one specific sector or topic so I could build better content. I did that. I took the advice of my mentors, and now Female Daily Network has two million visits every month,” she adds.
Hanifa (pic above), also an Endeavor Entrepreneur, concurs with Cybreed’s Gibran that mentorship is key to fostering entrepreneurship – especially cross-sector mentorship.
“It is rare to be able to meet other professionals and senior entrepreneurs who are not part of your industry – however, understanding different industries may be as beneficial as mastering your own,” she says.
“Mentorship will help shape your personality too, and as entrepreneurs, your personal growth is as important as your company’s,” she adds.
A way to give back
Husodo Angkosubroto (pic), chairman of conglomerate Gunung Sewu Group, says that trial-and-error is inevitable when scaling a company.
He says he was privileged to be able to watch his father build the company, and to learn from him – yet he still made many mistakes and did not have a good enough strategy to boost his company’s growth.
“A successful business is the sum of all the steps we take while building it,” says Husodo, speaking during the panel discussion.
“Mistakes are welcome; they allow us to learn – but learning can also come from other people’s experience and advice,” he adds.
Husodo is No 23 on Forbes’ Indonesia’s Richest list, with a net worth of US$1.2 billion.
He is an Endeavor mentor, and also serves on the board of Endeavor Indonesia, along with property tycoon Ciputra, Monk’s Hill Venture partner Peng T. Ong, and McKinsey & Co emeritus director Raoul Oberman.
“Looking back, I wish I had had access to good mentors who could have helped me with strategy,” says Husodo.
“A few hours of mentorship would not be enough for young entrepreneurs; it needs to be continuous. At least now there is a platform for this kind of mentorship,” he tells DNA.
Antonny Liem, the chief executive officer of Indonesia’s first digital incubator and investment group Merah Putih Incubator, argues that mentorship is a personal relationship.
“For young startups or entrepreneurs, you need to look for mentors who really care about you and the business, so that the relationship can grow and continue,” he says.
Antonny (pic) says that a mentor needs to be committed as well, to helping people build and grow the startup, regardless of the business sector.
“You can describe it as a form of giving back, while some will see mentorship as a way for them to learn new things as well, to get a grasp of what new things are happening in the business world,” he adds.
At the scale-up clinic last week in Jakarta, the third in a series, Endeavor Indonesia paired around 150 professional mentors with 150 young entrepreneurs for one-on-one speed mentoring sessions.
The clinic also covered 13 areas such as sales, marketing, human resources, financial technology, and regional expansion.
Endeavor established its Indonesian office in 2012, and currently has a roster of 22 ‘Endeavor Entrepreneurs’ in the country.
Endeavor Entrepreneurs get access to networks of global business leaders, talents, and capital. According to Endeavor Indonesia’s impact report, these 22 entrepreneurs generated a cumulative revenue of Rp2.2 trillion (US$166.2 million) and created 6,340 jobs last year.
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