Startup MGZN had an interview with Fares Ghandour from Wamda who talked to us about Mix n’ Mentor Bahrain and why entrepreneurs should not miss attending the event.
Can you tell us a bit about Mix n’Mentor?
Mix N’ Mentor is a community event that serves both entrepreneurs and mentors. We’ve worked hard in 2012 to sculpt the format of the event so that mentorship sessions are both effective and open. It’s a place where entrepreneurs can discuss the challenges they face at their startups in hopes of getting some actionable advice from mentors.
The day is made up of 3 mentorship sessions, 1 hour each. We pre-match 7 entrepreneurs and 2 mentors in breakout sessions based on their weaknesses and strengths. Attendees rotate for the different sessions to ensure maximum diversity in a discussion. The topics discussed are determined in advance according to what entrepreneurs need advice on most (attendees fill out a brief survey upon registration). The day also has room for networking, good food, and closes with a casual panel session to wrap up thoughts and ideas discussed during the event.
What do you aim to achieve with this event?
Our aim is to bring entrepreneurs actionable advice and mentorship that is applicable to real life challenges faced at their startups. There is a lack of institutionalized mentorship for startups past idea or incubation stage. Mix N’ Mentor fills this gap and we are happy to say that the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
How was your experience with Mix’n’Mentor in other Arab cities?
2012 was a year to tweak the event format, 2013 is the year to scale this initiative. So far, we have 12 cities lined up for our 2013 roadshow. We already kicked off with a successful start in Cairo on March 16th.
Have you seen the direct impact of the event on entrepreneurs? Can you give us any examples?
For Mix N’ Mentor Cairo, we had a total of 250 attendees, 30% of entrepreneurs said they found potential investors, 60% said they established new partnerships and a staggering 90% of mentors are still in touch with entrepreneurs they met at MnM. A good example would be one of the startups that attended both Mix N’ Mentor events in Amman in 2012. They secured an investment from Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups, who attended the Amman event last November as part of the “Geeks on a Plane” delegation.
Who should attend Mix’n’Mentor, and what should they expect?
Any entrepreneur that is past the idea stage is welcome to attend. In addition to that, industry experts, serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, or those with past experience mentoring entrepreneurs are invited, mentor. The event gives the chance for attendees to forge connections, build partnerships, establish plans of action and get some insight and feedback from fellow attendees.
We expect everyone to be open and share because that is the only way to ensure the sessions are effective.
Who are the main partners to the event in Bahrain?
We are partnering with the Bahrain Development Bank who have shown us tremendous support on all fronts in order to ensure Mix N’ Mentor Manama will be successful. The event’s Strategic partner is Tamkeen and is co-organized by Tenmou.
On a side note, we are extremely excited to be hosting the event at the Al Jasra Handicrafts center, this sort of venue helps promote the casual atmosphere of Mix N’ Mentor. We dislike hotel ballrooms as those are too boring and formal.
Are you planning any other events in Bahrain soon?
Not in 2013; certainly for 2014!