The Mentor Capital Network supports entrepreneurs starting or growing for-profit companies that create positive social, environmental, and/or cultural value in a way that makes their business stronger.  Launched in 2002, we have engaged more than 1,000 volunteer mentors who have donated more than $6 million worth of their time, which we refer to as ” mentor capital.” The result: 600 for-profit enterprises have launched, creating tens of thousands of jobs and impacting millions of people. Want to connect with us directly? Fill out this form.

  1. What We Offer Social Entrepreneurs
  2. Who Should Apply
  3. How to Apply
  4. Processing Fee
  5. Selection Criteria
  6. The Program: Business Plan Review, Mentoring, Challenge Calls, & Ongoing Support

1. What We Offer Social Entrepreneurs

  • An average of 25 pages of constructive feedback on your business plan. We customize a team of mentors to read your business plan and provide you their expertise and perspectives.
  • Mentoring relationships where you and the mentor choose each other. You decide which reviewers you want to engage with, based on the quality of their feedback to you.
  • A network of founders and peers solving similar problems that adapts over time. The MCN is a platform for you to engage with non-competitive peers, founder-to-founder, to learn from and strengthen each other’s efforts. And the challenges you’re having today might be different next year. We want to meet you where you are.
  • Investor connections. Participation in our programs also gives you an opportunity to be part of our Investor Fishbowl and Green Grab events where we put companies in front of accredited investors to pitch for professional debt or equity investment.
  • Support that doesn’t take you away from running your company. From the ground up, we are built to keep you running your company.
  • The Richard Heinberg Prizes, in collaboration with the Foundation for a Sustainable Future.
  • Don’t just take our word for it. Read what our entrepreneurs have to say about our program.

2. Who Should Apply

  • You must represent a for-profit start-up or growing company that has a social, environmental, and/or cultural mission that strengthens your company’s financial margin. You may submit plans for hybrids, or for-profits that are owned by non-profits. We are working on a partnership with a similar organization that focuses on non-profit proposals, and hope to announce that shortly.
  • You must be open to considering feedback on your business ideas from industry and regional experts, investors, lawyers, and accountants from around the globe.
  • You must be interested in building an ongoing relationship with a mentor.
  • Someone on your team must be able to communicate with our staff about logistical issues in English. You can submit your business plan in English, Spanish, or French.
  • Your leadership team can be any age or educational status. Your company can be based anywhere on earth. You can be pre- or post- revenue. While we work with companies at any stage, our “sweet spot” is with companies who are stages 2-6 of the Village Capital VIRAL Framework. Caveat — this framework is designed for companies seeking external equity funding. You do not need to be seeking funding to work with the MCN.
  • We focus on providing support that takes up a minimal amount of your time. If you are are to commit larger amounts of time to the acceleration / incubation process, we recommend you also check out these other social impact focused programs. (Many organizations participate in our program at the same time as they participate in one of the more intensive programs.)

3. How to Apply

Send your business plan by March 15th, 2019 to network@mentorcapitalnet.org.

Please make sure that your plan describes:

  • The Product or Service you will provide.
  • Your market, and the size of that market.
  • Your competition, and how your product is different from theirs.
  • Your leadership team, and any roles you plan to hire for when your company grows.
  • A three year income statement, with clearly listed assumptions.
  • The social, environmental, and/or cultural benefits that will accrue if your company is successful.
  • How you will know if you are successful.

Most business plans that we review are between 12 and 24 pages. While there is no formal page limit, extremely long business plans are unlikely to be accepted. Please note that we are asking for a plan, not a pitch document. A pitch document is for a specific investor at a specific moment in time. A plan is a document that you can check in with, and update, every year or so.

Upon your submission, your business plan will be reviewed by MCN Staff to determine if you are a good fit for our program. If you are accepted into the program, your business plan will be reviewed by a curated team (average size 12-15) who will provide you with constructive feedback.

Neither the MCN nor our volunteer reviewers will sign Non-Disclosure Agreements during our program. So please do not include Intellectual Property in your business plan. We have found that many entrepreneurs can describe what their solution does, and what their business model is, without disclosing the intellectual property around *how* it solves the solution. If you are not one of those entrepreneurs, then our program may not be for you.

4. Processing Fee

We find that charging a small fee means that folks are more like to be engaged with our program. So we charge a $100 fee for the Business Plan Review and Mentor Connection portion of our program. This  must be submitted with your business plan. If we do not accept you into our program,  we will provide a complete refund. The easiest way to pay the fee is via PayPal through our form here: https://wjf.wufoo.com/forms/2019-processing-fee-form/

If you need to pay in another way, please contact us at network@mentorcapitalnet.org. Please note that this fee is not tax-deductible.

  • If your operations are / will be based in an OCED Country, the fee is $100.
  • If your operations are / will be based in a country that is neither OCED or on the UN’s list of least-developed countries, the fee is $50.
  • If your operations are / will be based in a country on the UN’s least-developed list, the fee is $25.

5. Selection Criteria

  • Viability: Will the firm be in existence long enough for their business model to spread?
  • Total Social Value: Does this company’s existence make the world better? Think past the first problem you are solving for — will you create new problems by solving the old ones?
  • Innovation: Do they have an idea that will spread to other companies? Do they have an understanding of their field as a whole? Does the entrepreneur actively want their idea to spread?
  • Frontier Markets: Are you addressing a community that does not have easy access to what they are providing? How deeply are the founders connected to that community?
  • MCN Value-Add: Can the MCN community add specific and significant value to this entrepreneur and/or company?

6. The Program

Business Plan Review

The first part of our program, which is available to all companies that are accepted into our network, is business plan review. The MCN will curate a team of 12-15 individuals who will review your business plan. These individuals will be chosen for diversity of perspective. Most of our reviewers have had experience building multiple-bottom-line companies. Wherever possible, we will identify individuals who are addressing the same challenges as you, but who are not competing for the same customers.

It takes us two to four weeks (depending on the size of the cohort) to create the review teams, and we give them a month to review your plans. Each reviewer provides some of their professional background to the entrepreneur, making their experience and perspective visible. The feedback packet is made available both to the entrepreneurs who submitted their business plan and to the folks who reviewed the plan.

In the middle of the review period, one or more clarification calls are scheduled. These calls, usually video chats, are an opportunity for reviewers to ask questions directly of the entrepreneurs about anything that might not be obvious from reading their business plan.

Mentoring

The final, and most important, question to our reviewers on their scorecard is this:

__ Yes, I would be willing to mentor this business.
__ Yes, I would be happy to engage in a single follow-up conversation.
__ Please leave me anonymous to the entrepreneur and other mentors.

The Mentor Capital Network has facilitated more than 7,500 business plan reviews. On average, about 25% chose the “mentor” option, 60% chose the “follow-up conversation” option, and 15% remain anonymous. The key factor is that the entrepreneur reaches out to the reviewers they found particularly helpful — that both sides choose each other. The MCN provides mentoring guidelines, but ultimately the entrepreneur and the mentor determine what their mentoring relationship will look like.

Challenge Calls

The top companies from the business plan review phase of our program will be invited to participate in Challenge Calls where the entrepreneurs can pose a specific question to a curated team (much like the business plan review) for the entrepreneur(s).

Ongoing Support

The MCN continues to work with many of our alumni, coordinating peer-to-peer calls, mastermind groups, investor connections, and other resources. This is provided on an ad-hoc basis, and is often initiated by the alumni entrepreneur asking for our support. This is in keeping with our goal of taking as little of the entrepreneur’s time as possible.