Sep 09, 2014 Old News

The Mentor, TheRainmaker Successful Entrepreneurs Raisethe Barin Building Great Companies

No matterwhomyou are, where you come from, your past success or how smart you think your business idea could be, having a mentor has no inestimable value in terms of how much contribution they can bring to any nascent business.


What do the likes of Steve Jobs (late Apple co-founder), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google cofounders), Richard Branson (Virgin Group founder) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder) all have in common? A few keyboard strokes of research online will reveal that these poster successful entrepreneurs had one truly common trait. They all received guidance and support from a business mentor. Yes, even the superbly independently-minded Steve Jobs received some assistance, advice and support from time to time.


Take it from a Botswana start-up mobile paymentcompany; Spachee, regardless of how disruptive or off-the wall they thought their mobile payments processing idea was, they had a team of passionate, focused and determined entrepreneurial minds but even with these traits they still soughtbusiness guidanceand mentorship. Spachee has had affiliating mentorship from the likes of Kenneth Molosi (EOH Consulting) and Ineke Van Der Weijden ofTechnoserve, who brought Ralph Maenen (Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company) and (Include first name)Brackenburg (Booz & Company). These rainmakers have been helping Spachee to shape and impact everything from strategic partnerships, product strategy, sales, marketing, recruiting, to adding overall brand value of the company.


As an entrepreneur, finding any way to ease development process is vital, thus the need for mentorship. A mentor can help to shorten ones learning curve, open onesmind to new ideas and possibilities, identify opportunities and advise on how to promote yourself.For example, your business mentor may introduce one to another of his mentees, an award-winning recent college graduate who is looking for an entry level position in web design. Perhaps one is looking for someone to help them design their new company’s website. Thanks to the mentor’s contact, ones search for a valuable asset may have just become easier.


“He that won’t be counseled can’t be helped” – Benjamin Franklin.
One cannot stress enough the importance of havingbusiness mentors when embarking on the exciting journey of building a truly great company. I love the words used by the great American author and businessman Zig Ziglar when he said: A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could. During my research in entrepreneurial development, I was motivated by the number of Fortune500 CEO’s who had sought out mentors in their early start-up stages.I discovered that Steve Job’s mentor was former Intel manager Mike Markkula. He invested close to $80,000 in shares and $100,000 as a loan for a one-third share in Apple – but his key role was what Jobs described as a adult supervisor which was by far the greatest contribution needed to keep the unruly Apple youngsters on track.


I also researched the stepping stones of Google, only to find out that the two young billionaires, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, actually brought onboard a certain Eric Schmidt (former Sun Microsystems and Novell senior executive) when they realized that Google’s phenomenal growth was going to be hard for them to manage. It is well documented that Schmidt’s greatest contribution to Google was building the core organizational infrastructure that was needed for Google to become the internet behemoth it is today.


Another prime example of a rainmaker who played a similar role like MikeMarkkula would be Peter Thiel. He waskey to the development of start-up IT companies such as Facebook, MySpace and Pay Pal. Thiel gave guidance for early seed capital, strategic advice and was a key business networker for the likes of Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook founder) and Elon Mask (Pay Pal co-founder).


The ideal mentor is someone you respect professionally, with a career you’d like to emulate. Search for someone who is successful in your field or a similar one. Another important factor to keep in mind when searching for a mentor is personality — find someone you like on a

personal level. If you actually enjoy communicating with your mentor, the experience will be more fulfilling. My advice to any entrepreneur, is to go out there and seek good counsel – find yourself a rainmaker, Botswana has an infinite pool of them. The resources are available; it is our responsibility as Batswana’s emerging entrepreneurs to use them.



By Tshepo Nthoiwa, Executive Director of Business Development, Spachee (Pty) Ltd


Spacehee (Pty) Ltd is a client of Botswana Innovation Hub’s technology entrepreneurship development programme, First Steps Venture Centre (FSVC).