The mission of the mentor program is to maximize every applicant’s chances of winning the competition, of raising investment capital and of achieving sustainable commercial success.
After a team enters the competition, pays the fees, fills out their profile and makes a request, the mentor matching process begins. Assignment is based on mutual areas of interest and proper matching of team needs and mentor strengths. Once a team reaches the semifinal round they may receive more than one specialist mentor to assist in various aspects of the business plan, fine tuning the investor pitch and building out the team.
All our mentors are highly experienced business leaders who have volunteered their time to help ensure the success of all participating teams. Subject to availability of suitable mentors, teams can count on help with:
- Completing and refining their business plan/model
- Completing and refining their investor pitch
- Building out their team
- Sales/Business Development
- Financial Planning
Generalist mentors are experienced professionals with proven records of success in either relevant cleantech industries or innovation-driven startups who become key assets for the participating teams. In the context of the competition, generalist mentors become a champion for the team, coaching and leading the entrepreneurs to build excellent business plans and investor pitches on which they will be judged. Outside the competition, successful generalist mentors become trusted advisors for their teams, often introducing them to potential investors, partners and customers.
Tapping world-class expertise in key functional disciplines like finance, marketing, engineering, sustainability and legal is vital for our contestants to build successful enterprises. Specialist Mentors are an elite group of subject matter experts who act as resources for all the teams in the competition. Typical special mentors are Director or VP-level executives at companies large and small who are recognized leaders in their discipline.
The Cleantech Open also pulls in student interns who act as hands-on resources to the semifinalists. Typical tasks include:
- Competitive assessments
- Business case development and financial modeling
- VC pitches
This unpaid summer intern program is the perfect opportunity for students to receive hands-on experience with an entrepreneurial group in a start-up atmosphere, simultaneously receiving coaching and offering guidance and input.
Each team is also assigned an advisor on sustainability by the sustainability team. The sustainability mentor's role is to provoke creative thinking on sustainable business practices and to help ensure that sustainability is pervasively incorporated in each team's business plan and investor pitch.
During these 45-minute one-on-one consulting sessions, semifinalists receive in depth assistance with core sections of their business plans and investor pitches from subject matter experts. The business clinic consultants are part of the Mentor Program and are pulled directly from their field of expertise. Semifinalists are strongly encouraged to participate in all nine topics. They are:
- Angel Investing
- Finance I
- Finance II
- Legal - Corporate
- Legal - IP
- Public Relations
Mock Judging is held after the business plan deadline. Mentors and other experts are invited to watch the semifinalists' practice pitches. Unlike the full judging session, no marks are awarded; instead, the teams receive comments and feedback and are invited to work with their mentors to tighten up their pitch in preparation for judging for the Finals.