(Update 08/19/2013)I just heard about another service that is not that old that provides a very cool service: Clarity ("Make faster & better decisions to grow your business. Clarity is your lifeline that instantly connects you with battle-tested advice from entrepreneurs..."). Here is a link to a TechCrunch article that gives a pretty good explanation about Clarity: http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/03/clarity-mobile-mentorship-app/
(Update: 02/19/2013)Interesting enough I just run into an initiative that is trying to do exactly what I was suggesting (HighTable). HighTable is not a new company, is actually pretty old (I believe it was founded before 2011) but I did not know about it until know. HighTable is a subsidiary of GLG.
(Original Date: 8/4/2012)
Clearly with the new wave of start-up accelerators there is a need for quality mentors. Some accelerators have their own networks to tap into their quality mentors but as this space grows, getting quality mentors across different fields in different geographies gets more and more complicated.
Similar to the expert network created by Gerson Lehrman Group, there is an opportunity to create a Mentors Network that will follow the same rules.
From the Mentors Perspective
- You sign up to the platform and are evaluated to determine your field and level of expertise
- The platform will share with you the "projects" that require your field and level of expertise
- You negotiate and get pay for your time
From the Accelerator (or any other entity that needs mentors) Perspective
- You pay a small subscription fee to get access to the platform
- You search on the platform for the right mentor
- You negotiate and pay your mentor
The business model is simple. The platform gets the subscription fee. The mentor gets the payment negotiated with the accelerator. The accelerator gets a quality mentor in any field in any geography.
I am going to forget about the payment for the mentor given that the platform does not get any piece of that (as of right now). If what you read in Wikipedia is true, there were around 200 accelerators around the world in 2011. That is probably without counting the small local accelerators that nobody writes about (another 100). Lets imagine that the accelerator world has double since then (that is what has happened in Latin America at least) that means that there are 600 accelerators with classes of ~10 startups.
Now there are some established companies that probably need mentors too to innovate, change directions, safe the company, etc (yeah! like a consultant for hire... but lets just bare with me). From the non-sophisticated to the very sophisticated, from the tiny to the huge, from the simple to the complex, companies are always looking for someone that can help with change in a very specific field.
Lets assume that you can charge each client a fixed annual fee of $10K (probably it makes more sense to have different prices for different type of companies but lets just assume this so we can do the math quickly).
In the worse case scenario you the market is just $6M ($10K x 600). But if this model can capture more than just accelerators it can be a billion dollar market.