“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” This Japanese proverb highlights the significance of finding a great mentor.
Young aspiring entrepreneurs as myself can read as many books on startups or entrepreneurship as they want (indeed this is very important), but nothing is better than learning from someone who has gone out there and done it, built a product, raised venture capital money, and managed a team. As I was in Berlin for a six month industrial placement with Earlybird Venture Capital, as part of my EEM degree, I tried to learn as much as possible about the startup scene and embraced all of the great events on offer. Thus when the opportunity arose, I immediately embraced the fantastic Berlin Geekette mentorship program. I would certainly recommend everyone interested in going into a new area to find a mentor for support. I was very lucky to be paired with one of the most successful women in Berlin, Zoe Adamovicz (although I have to admit that I requested her on my application – thanks again Denise :p).
I am not going to lie, before our first mentor/mentee meeting, I was quite anxious. Would I like Zoe? Would she like me? Would she be able to help me with my uncertainties about what I want to do after graduating? These and many more questions were circling my head until I met her in the café/bar area of the beautiful Soho House and after a few brief welcoming, chatty moments all of these worries drifted away. I realised I had no expectations at all and any benefits I would get from our conversations were secondary, primarily I had now met a successful female entrepreneur who was telling me all about her career path and actually focusing all of her attention on me. It was great, I was not competing with other conference visitors to chat with a speaker or conference attendee. I had an entire hour and a half to talk to her all by myself. So what did we want to get out of this mentorship program? We were not entirely certain yet, but it did not matter because we were having a fantastic conversation and I knew that I would do my best to uphold this new found friend-mentorship for the future.
“Entrepreneurship is like love, once you are falling for it you cannot stop yourself” Zoe said and it resonated with me, once you realise you are interested, it enthrals you and occupies all of your thoughts (except for maybe the time that you are actually thinking about your partner).
So how does one become a successful entrepreneur like you I asked, there are many windy paths one might take, should you work for a startup first to learn about the scene?.
“You could, or you could just go out and start your idea, if your convinced, nothing should stop you” Zoe replied.
Food for thought.
Indeed I have been playing with several ideas, but obviously it’s not that easy. Speaking to Zoe had been fantastic and I am sure that whatever I venture into after graduation, I will be following my aspirations of my own company when the time is right. I have definitely decided to avoid anything corporate and stay in the startup scene, where I have felt so comfortable in Berlin. Regardless of what I might venture into, I am definitely going to stay in contact with my new mentor and the Berlin Geekettes. One thing is certain, I have vowed to accept any interesting opportunity that may cross my path because paths are windy and the famous German saying “der Weg ist das Ziel” (the journey is the destination) is an important mantra to keep close at heart.
Keep up the mentorship program Berlin Geekettes, it is an invaluable initiative.