2016 Annual Gathering – Overview

The MCN Annual Gathering
(September 29th to October 1, 2016)

In September of 2016, the MCN hosted our Annual Gathering. At this time, we brought together the top teams from both the January-March and March-June cycles.

The 2015 event was held at the United Nations.

The 2016 gathering was held at the Washington DC Impact Hub.

Top companies divided $30,000 worth of cash and in-kind prizes.

Entrepreneurs from all past and current cohorts are welcomed and encouraged to attend MCN’s Annual Gatherings. It is a wonderful opportunity to network with and learn from fellow social entrepreneurs and new mentors, and stay connected with the Mentor Capital Network family.

The Mentor Capital Network’s Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration. 

It’s a long name, but with a simple goal – to match mentors and entrepreneurs who will build and grow businesses that will make our world a better place to live.

The Application Process

The application is very simple, and takes 30-45 minutes to complete. We also accept applications from many other programs, including Agora Partnerships, Echoing Green, Bethesda Green, Village Capital, Unreasonable Institutes, and many others. A full list of our partners is on the application form. There is no fee to apply.

The MCN staff does an initial review of the applications on a rolling basis. Those which are clearly not a fit are put aside.

The remaining applications are then posted to a private online folder for our reviewers. MCN Mentors then review the posted applications on a 1-5 scale for business viability and a similar scale for social/environmental impact.

The MCN staff looks at the top companies and assign a “how much can we help them” score – to identify the companies that we are best positioned to move forward.

The Invitation

Accepted companies are then sent an invitation to the MCN Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration.

The number of companies that the MCN accepts into any given round depends on how much money the MCN has raised around that specific program cycle.

Submitting the Business Plan

Entrepreneurs who have been invited to be a part of our program will then submit a business plan.

What is expected in this business plan is described in our Entrepreneur Guidelines.

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 and chose to participate, we charge a processing fee because long experience has taught us that entrepreneurs assign greater value to what they have to pay for. The fee is due when your business plan is submitted.

The processing fee is $100.

Reviewing the Business Plan

Then the MCN staff will build a team of 10-15 mentors who will review the plan. These mentors will represent a diversity of technical perspective – both in expertise (marketing, finance, operations, leadership, etc.) and in the kinds of challenges they are used to addressing. Some of our mentors are leaders in their field. Most are mid-career– 20 years of expertise, doctorates, or the equivalent. Some are peers to the entrepreneurs – past participants in our program who are solving similar problems in non-competitive markets.

Our Mentors will then have one month to review the plans via our online scorecard. Mentors typically review between two and four plans during that period.

Plans submitted on October 5th 2016 will be reviewed October 31st – November 28th 2016.

During that reading period, an entrepreneur can chose to participate in a clarification call to answer any questions their reviewers may have.

Reviewers then complete and return their scorecards, providing both scores and constructive feedback. Each scorecard averages about 1-2 pages of feedback. While submitting their scorecards, each reviewer can chose:

  1. To stay anonymous. (Less than 8% of mentors traditionally chose this.)
  2. To answer specific questions about the feedback they gave. This generally results in an email exchange or a one-time phone call. (About 40% of mentors traditionally select this option.)
  3. That they want to get more involved with the company as a mentor.

Receiving the Feedback and Making Mentor Connections

The entrepreneurs receive the mentor feedback from the MCN team via a PDF document. The entrepreneurs can see which feedback comes from whom (except for the mentors who chose the anonymous option.) All feedback, including the anonymous, includes a short bio of the reviewing mentor, so the entrepreneur can know which parts to pay particular attention to. (e.g. If the reviewer is a marketing or finance expert.)

The mentors also get to see the feedback of the other mentors on companies that they reviewed. If a mentor is anonymous to the entrepreneur, they are anonymous to the other mentors as well.

The entrepreneur looks at all of the feedback and sends thank you notes to every reviewer (except the anonymous ones) and specific questions to any of the reviewers that they have questions for.

Then the entrepreneur focuses on the mentors who check the “I want to get more involved” box and picks one or two mentors to start an active relationship with. The advantage of doing so via referring to their feedback is that the entrepreneur can see which mentor they feel will add value to their company. This helps address what is known as “Mentor Whiplash” wherein entrepreneurs are constantly being told to talk to potential advisors and mentors, but don’t have the time to confer with everyone.

The MCN helps to connect the entrepreneur and the mentor, who have now chosen each other. We encourage and support them in building a mentoring relationship together.

The Process Repeats

The Mentor Capital Network Collaboration program is run three times a year. The programs are identical. Companies that entered the first program are invited to enter the second program if they wish, as long as they update their business plans.