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Richard Dale (@rdale) is in the process of launching Big Data Boston Ventures, a new micro-VC fund focused on seed-stage big data companies. He was until recently a principal at Sigma Partners, and before that was a co-founder of Phase Forward. Richard is mentor at Techstars, a tech-oriented business accelerator program, MassChallenge, a large startup accelerator program in Boston, as well as Healthbox, a health and technology oriented business accelerator program. 

Mr. Dale has emphasized the importance of taking ownership over the business project, as opposed to excessive reliance on mentors’ advice:

“My motto is, if you’re not the smartest person in the room about your company, you’re in trouble. Your mentors have different background and expertise, but how many hours a week does an entrepreneur spend thinking about his or her business? Forty? Eighty? More like a hundred? And how many hours does the mentor spend..? Running your own business is part of the fun.”

 Of course there are lots of possible problems that arise from working with mentors that Mr. Dale emphasized. Mentors might not consider mentees their immediate priority, for example. Mentors might have different opinions, conflicting advice, or pulling the CEO in many different directions. It is the CEO’s job to solve these problems, in the end of the day.

So, how does the CEO solve these problems? Mr. Dale considers “The Mentor Manifesto” from David Cohen of TechStars to be a Bible for entrepreneurs seeking mentorship. Mentees should consider looking at this document to check whether the relationship is productive; otherwise, they might consider switching mentors.

Mr. Dale concluded with wishing entrepreneurs success and encouraging them to make the best out of their mentor interactions! 

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