As we look around Sioux Falls, we see an endless number of connections to be made among the thinkers, makers, and dreamers in our community. As an organization, our hearts beat for entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial journey is long, challenging, and can sometimes feel lonely—but we want you to know that you are not alone. We are lucky enough to live and work in a place filled with incredible business owners and professional experts who are ready and willing to provide mentorship and support to entrepreneurs and starters—whether they are building a social venture, creating the next tech business, or laying the groundwork for Downtown Sioux Falls’ next retail business. Whatever your dream is, we want to help you chase it. This is why we’ve built a network of mentors who are ready to listen, encourage, and help you connect the dots as you tackle the next challenge in your business!
What is Mentorship?
Mentorship is a give and take relationship between two people who are looking to better themselves both personally and professionally. Entrepreneurs face new and unique challenges in their businesses every day and, all too often, are left to deal with those challenges alone. What if, instead of tackling those challenges by yourself, you had a mentor that could help you by talking you through the situation— providing suggestions and alternate perspectives, connecting you with people in their network, and serving as a much-needed foundation of support? As a mentee, you should expect that a mentor is not going to solve the problem for you, and you should not see the relationship as free access to professional advice. Both mentor and mentee should expect to give and receive; a successful mentorship relationship is not transactional.
What are Founder and Expert Mentors?
As an entrepreneur, sometimes it can be helpful to talk to someone who understands—someone who has been in your shoes. Wherever you’re at in your entrepreneurial journey, odds are someone has been there before. The founder mentors in our network can relate, and they can use their experiences to help you weather the storm.
Other times, you may desperately need an outside perspective from a professional expert. Our expert mentors work with entrepreneurs and business owners every day. With expertise in culture, manufacturing, marketing, team building and more, they may bring a fresh perspective to a problem you are trying to solve or be able to connect you with a professional who can.
Already interested in seeking a mentor? Sign up here!
Ways We Connect Mentors and Mentees
Through our mentorship network we can connect entrepreneurs with mentors whenever and wherever they need it. Once connected, the formal mentorship timeframe for a mentor/mentee match is one meeting. Are you ready to get plugged in? If so, you’re in the right place.
Our CO.STARTERS Accelerator Program is designed to take early- and idea-stage companies, and push them through this difficult phase. Facilitated by one of the mentors in our network, CO.STARTERS is a hands-on ten-week program intended to give you the tools and perspectives you need to get your business to the next level. Interested in learning more? Visit our CO.STARTERS Page.
OFFICE HOURS EVENT
We host an office hours event quarterly to connect founder and professional mentors in our network to entrepreneurs with specific questions and support needs. If you have a problem, and you’re looking for a professional to bounce ideas off of, this event is for you. Keep your eyes peeled for event postings on Facebook or on the Events Page of our website.
Meet Our Featured Founder and Expert Mentors
Chief Executive Officer
Areas of expertise:
- Company Culture
- Fundraising/Venture Capital
- Marketplaces (Amazon, eBay)
- Right People, Right Seat
- Company Operating Systems
Expectations and Role of Mentors
These are some of the expectations you can anticipate as a mentor in our network:
- In lieu of training, we ask mentors to review a brief document outlining the program and expectations.
- If matched with a CO.STARTERS mentee, commit to meeting once per month for two months (~2.5 hour commitment). If matched with a mentee through the general online portal, commit to meeting once with the mentee.
- Listen and provide guidance by helping mentees with gaps in business knowledge or experience.
- Ask questions to help mentee(s) reflect and think through their decisions.
- Connect mentees with people in your network that might be valuable to the founder(s).
- Challenge the mentee(s) when necessary about the assumptions and conclusions driving their decisions.
Why Don't Mentors Get Paid?
By design, mentors are not compensated for their participation during the two-month period of the formal mentorship timeframe. We want mentors in our network who align with our mission and who have a genuine interest in using their knowledge and experience to help guide others. It’s also important to note that, as a mentor, you should not be doing the work for your mentee(s). Your value is in experience, knowledge, and guidance—not free labor. We see mentorship as a two-way relationship, not a transaction.
How are Mentors and Mentees Connected?
If you seek mentorship, simply sign up using the buttons on this page. In lieu of formal training, we ask mentors to review a brief document outlining the program and expectations. Mentees will have an opportunity to express interest in specific mentors as well as identify why they seek mentorship. Our team uses the information from submitted applications to connect mentees and mentors that are well aligned.
Meet at the Zeal Center
As members of our mentorship network, mentors and mentees are welcome to meet in our collaboration space free of charge. Check out some of the spaces at the Zeal Center here. Did we mention the coffee and popcorn are on us? If you are interested in working on your business at Zeal, learn more about our memberships!