How We Work with Entrepreneurs:
If you are launching or growing a for-profit company where your social, environmental, and/or cultural mission strengthens your financial margins, then our Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration is for you.
You can apply here.
Below you’ll find information on:
- Who should apply
- Benefits of being part of our program
- The Processing Fee (for accepted companies only)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Program Timeline
“I think the feedback is AMAZING & really appreciate all the time you guys have put into giving us genuine & most importantly, actionable and constructive criticism.”
~ Alejandro Velez, Back to the Roots
As a team, in the past ten years we have engaged more than 1,000 volunteer mentors who have donated more than $5 million of mentor capital. The result: 600 for-profit enterprises have launched, creating thousands of jobs and impacting millions of people.
What kind of entrepreneurs should apply?
- You must be starting or growing a for-profit company that has a social, environmental, and/or cultural Mission that strengthens your companies’ financial Margin.
- You must be interested in working with mentors who can provide meaningful, actionable feedback on your business plan.
- You must be interested in building a relationship with a mentor, not just having a quick one-time conversation.
- You must be able to submit your documents in the English language.
“I invested my time applying because I knew that it would offer me a guaranteed return on investment: feedback!”
~ Todd Schechter, New American Tavern
Benefits of Participating
- Joining the Mentor Capital Network. We customize a team of mentors to read your business plan and provide you their expertise and perspectives. As a mentor reads your plan, and provides you feedback, they can opt-in and provide you their contact information. Once you have their contact information, and their mentor feedback, you have the opportunity to reach out and continue to get advice, coaching or mentoring from these industry leaders. Our program is the tool we use to connect the right entrepreneurs to the right mentors.
- Investor Capital. 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. Many of our mentors are investors, and use our program as a chance to review potential investments, as well as to use the feedback of the other mentors to help qualify their pipelines.
- Prizes. We have several cohorts and prize categories. Our prizes are cash and professional services that are worth more than $50,000. In 2016, we’re also proud to announce a $25k prize in partnership with the 11th Hour Foundation, that will be give to our top Clean Energy company. Our finalists pick from the prize pool in order of finish, to better match you to a prize you can use.
“For social enterprises that are in that early stage prior taking on investment, I really think that all [of those] companies should be involved with the [MCN] competition because it provides immediate feedback on your plan, even if you only get through the first round. The feedback helped build our team focus. It should be in the entrepreneur handbook – you’ve got to do [MCN].”
~ Tricia Compas-Markman, founder and CEO, Day One Response
How you apply, and how we decide who to accept?
- Applicants should complete online application form. Applications for our 2016 cohorts are now closed. Applications for 2017 will be announced on this website and through our newsletter.
- The MCN team will perform an initial review, and remove applications that do meet the four criteria listed above.
- The remaining applications are put in an online directory for our pool of reviewing mentors.
- The mentors (alongside the MCN Team) are asked to look for companies that the MCN can most help — that is, companies that look viable and that the MCN has the mentors and other resources to help. There are certain countries and/or industries where we are better able to help you than others, but we always want to be open to working with a few people from new regions and industries each year.
- Each year, there is also a particular set of industries and/or attributes that we focus on, based on our funding sources and other interests. See the discount categories under the processing fee for our current list. Your company doesn’t have to fit into those categories, but your chances of acceptance will be increased if you are.
“We’ve won now about 20 awards. Of all those 20 awards, the [MCN] was the only one where we actually had access to a lot of the feedback from the judges and it was fantastic in helping us to adapt the model. We just put together our business plan for this next fundraising round and I went back to all the judges’ comments to see whether or not we had addressed some of the issues that were raised there. That’s been really helpful for us, even two, three years after we won the award.”
~ Sameer Hajee, Founder and CEO of Nuru Energy
The Processing Fee
The Mentor Capital Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and we receive most of our funding through the generosity of our entrepreneur and mentor alumni, and investors who appreciate the support we can provide to companies in their area of interest. There is no fee to apply to our program. However, if you are accepted, we charge a processing fee because long experience has taught us that entrepreneurs assign greater value to what they have to pay for. The baseline processing fee is $100.
“The [MCN] feedback by far is the most comprehensive, detailed feedback we’ve had, and we have participated in a lot of competitions. And the fact that judges are willing to have you follow up with them is great.”
~ Salif Romano Niang, Co-Founder, Malô
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
- Your leadership team can be any age.
- Your company can be based anywhere in the world. We have worked with entrepreneurs in more than 90 countries.
- You can be pre- or post- revenue,
- You must be open to changing y our business model, otherwise we can not really help you.
- You may submit plans for hybrids, or for-profits that are owned by non-profits. But the entity itself must be for-profit.
“The amount of feedback we got on our business plan was pretty incredible – nearly 75 pages all told from expert judges. And winning the prize of co-working space at the Affinity Lab has been so valuable. I’m now surrounded by a great community here.”
~ Alex Budak, co-founder of StartSomeGood
“The feedback of this competition is what makes it so valuable, and I was also pleased that so many of the judges were willing to share their email addresses and receive more questions from us. The pitch sessions where the investors were critiquing the presentations were so interesting. I don’t know how I would have otherwise gotten an experience like that, just seeing how that all worked gave me a better idea that if I do want to present to investors, what exactly they’re thinking and what they’re looking for.”
~ Rachel Faller, Founder of Tonlé
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