We find our reviewers and mentors the same way we mind most of our entrepreneurs – by asking our community, thousands of whom are building or managing social enterprises, who they think would be a good fit for our network. Individuals who are coming to us for the first time are encouraged to schedule a 30 minute ZOOM call with MCN executive director Ian Fisk via calendly.com/ian-fisk.
“Reviewers” and “Mentors” are the same people, at different stages of our process.
All mentors start as reviewers. The goal is that the entrepreneur and potential mentor chose each other based on their interaction around the review, and they chose each other.
There are three times when we reach out to (and beyond) our community for reviewers.
- When we know the dates of the next review period, even if we don’t know which companies we will be working with yet. We have about 120 individuals who review 90% of the time, so this is our base.
- When we know which companies we will be working with and can provide short summaries of the companies. This is when most of our reviewers sign on for a cohort.
- When we have assigned reviewers who opted-in to a cohort, and still have a few gaps to fill to build a team of reviewers who will complement each other.
How reviewers are assigned
Preference: Once we have the list of who we are working with for a given cohort, short descriptions of the companies will be sent to current and potential reviewers, and they will be given the option to rank their interest on a 1 to 5 scale (Love / Happy / Willing / Only-if-Necessary / No). Most reviewers mark most of the companies with “Love” or “Happy” which allows the MCN sufficient latitude to assign the best team for that company.
Complimentary Attributes: When building a team of reviewers for a particular company, we are looking for individuals who will offer complimentary perspectives to each other. The attributes that we look to balance include:
- Business Segments: Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, Product Design, etc..
- Professional Perspective: Similar, but not an exact map to education. How someone uses their professional education is more relevant to us than the actual degree. If you have an MD, what we’re really interested in is – have you used it as a research scientist? A field medic? A general practitioner? A public health specialist?
- Professional Experience: Similar, but not an exact map to age. Industries change over time, and someone who has been working in a field for 30 years will notice trends that someone newer to the field would not, while the person who is newer to the field is more likely to be up on the latest developments.
- Optimism / Pessimism – Once someone has reviewed more than 5 companies with the MCN (and enough time has passed for us to learn the eventual success or failure of the company) we have a sense of how much more optimistic or pessimistic they are compared to other reviewers as to the companies’ expected success. We track the success of a company based on their revenue, longevity, funds raised, and hires.
- What the reviewer notices: We track what a reviewer notices in their review forms and through the transcripts of the clarification calls. This gives us a sense of their specific areas of interest.
Not all attributes are relevant to complementing other reviewers. Some other aspects that we track include:
Industry: We look for people who have addressed similar challenges but not competing for the same customers. We also try to have one or two reviewers who are specifically not in the relevant industry, so they don’t take jargon for granted.
Reviewer Fit: We look at previous reviews of similar companies, and the reviewers’ score on if those companies were a fit to their interest and experience.
Feedback from past entrepreneurs: We look at what past entrepreneurs said about particular reviewers if they became mentors.