When Juan López Salaberry moved to Miami, he found himself buried in requests to help mentor local startups. It makes sense: López Salaberry was a partner at 500 Startups, ran their Spanish-speaking accelerator in Mexico City, and helped launch its new program in Miami. He wanted to help, but it was hard to stay organized.
That’s where the idea for MentorDay came from.
What is it? A nonprofit organization that organizes free monthly mentoring sessions, helping entrepreneurs solve defined problems through 45-minute sessions.
Where’d the idea come from? “Bottom line, it was hard for me to support [that] many people,” he says. “If I was having that problem, there was a problem not just in Miami but for a lot of people. I started asking other people, and they were telling me they weren’t even mentoring because it was hard to do without structure.”
How does it work? “We look for entrepreneurs with specific problems, and then we look for mentors who can help with that specific thing. One thing we wanted to maximize is the ability to help solve a problem within an hour.”
What’s happened so far? The first round of the project had 60 applications. The MentorDay team selected 30 for sessions held at four venues. One of the companies, Cetus Labs, asked for help making a great pitch deck for Emerge Americas, where it was participating in an early-stage competition. With some mentor advice, they won the contest, and $50,000.
López Salaberry says the most common requests are “urgent problems that have to do with getting started, marketing, sales, management. Also a lot of VC-related questions about raising money.”
What’s next? “In the short term we’re validating if we can do this once a month. In the mid term, we’re building a platform to take this to other cities. We want to build a network of city managers who can gather their own mentors, and we can help replicate it. Long-term, we think we can create the biggest mentor network in the world.”