There are three types of criteria used to decide if a company will be accepted into the Mentor Capital Network’s program.

Basic Qualifications

  1. The company is a for-profit start-up or growing company that has a social, environmental, and/or cultural mission that strengthens their financial margin. 
    • The most common problem that we see is companies that only donate money to charity, and don’t have any of their values reflected in their day-to-day operations. While we might applaud that personally, the MCN’s charter is to support companies that have integrated their values into their operations.
  2. The executive team is open to receiving feedback.
  3. Our lead contact (a member of the executive team) is interested in building a relationship with a mentor.
  4. The company can submit their business plan in English, Spanish, or French.
    • The MCN team’s primary language is English, so if they are working in Spanish or French, there must be at least one English-speaker we can communicate with.
    • Many of the entrepreneurs that we work with do speak English, but as a 3rd, 4th, or 5th language. We should be careful not to exclude someone because of non-native fluency.

Scored Criteria

Our judges (many of whom are also reviewers and mentors with the MCN) are asked to provide two scores:

Business Viability Score Guidance 1-5 Scale

1) You have no idea what they do, or how they will make money.
2) You understand what they want to do, but don’t think it will work.
3) The business might work, but it is not going to stand out or be a model to other companies.
4) You want to to buy their product or partner with them. They have a strong idea and/or a strong team.
5) You want to work for or invest in them. They have a strong idea and a strong team.

Mission Score Guidance 1-5 Scale
The MCN seeks to identify and support companies that will serve as a model to change how business is done. For us, “social value” includes positive environmental effects.

1) They’re not thinking about scalable social value.
2) They may be personally committed to social value, but have not integrated it into how the company does business (e.g. just giving a % to charity). Or, they weren’t thinking about social value, but realized the question was on the exam, and clearly just made something up.
3) They are creating social value via a product or service that is already widely available or is, and will continue to be, priced above market rate (e.g. luxury products).  We recognize that sometimes a company needs to start with a higher price to get to economies of scale.
4) They are creating social value in a way that will make their company more profitable.
5) They are creating social value in a way that will make their company more profitable, and will spread across their industry.

Additionally, MCN Staff and senior volunteers have the ability to add a score for “How Much Can We Help Them” — based on the existing relevant expertise in our mentor pool.


Unscored Criteria

Once the judges have indicated which companies are our top applicants for a particular round, we also take into consideration:

  1. MCN’s capacity for that round, based on the expected number of reviewers and mentors available.
  2. MCN’s desire to build communities of non-competitive entrepreneurs who are solving similar problems. If a company is addressing a challenge that someone else in our community is working on, but is in a different market or otherwise not competitive, they will have a slight advantage.
  3. MCN’s desire to have 2 or 3 companies in each industry category, so that reviewers can look at different ideas within their industry of expertise. This is not an absolute requirement, but does give a company a slight advantage.