Peak Six: Mentoring

Entrepreneurs benefit from the experience and perspective of others. By giving and receiving feedback, continuous learners will grow their communities, teams, and businesses.

This week, we sat down with Cole Simon to hear a bit more about our sixth peak, Mentoring. Cole is the Program Intern at Exponential Impact.

How have you seen and worked with Mentoring while at XI?


The strength of Exponential Impact’s mentor network is unparalleled. I first learned about XI when I was looking for opportunities to engage with the local startup community in Colorado Springs. I filled out a “Contact Us” form on the XI website, and within hours set up a coffee meeting with the Program Director to chat more about ways to engage with local startups. I quickly learned what mentorship in Colorado Springs and Exponential Impact was all about—unconditional giving, meaningful connections, and holistic support. I knew immediately that I wanted to tap into XI’s network and support XI wherever I could. Since joining XI as a Program Intern for the 2019 Accelerator, I’ve made connections with mentors that I never thought was possible for a college student. Though at first it was daunting to ask for a business card, connect on LinkedIn, or ask to get coffee, XI created an environment in which it was natural. The program is truly “mentor-driven,” as learning sessions are centered around the expertise of community members, and happy hours and other social events foster lasting personal connections.

How do you think a startup applying for our 2020 accelerator program should embrace Mentoring?


Finding mentors is hard, especially for introverts and people with underrepresented identities. Exponential Impact’s mentorship network is one of the greatest benefits for teams, and I’ve seen countless examples of teams whose whole strategy has shifted thanks to one person. At XI, we’re people people, and we know that the best advice doesn’t come from scripted playbooks, but rather from a seasoned mentor who has been in your shoes before. Teams who are looking for people who can poke holes in their business plans, connect them with resources, or discuss personal goals over a beer are well suited for the Accelerator.

Share a bit more about yourself. Has Mentoring influenced your life in other ways?


I’m indebted to many people who have been my mentors, friends, and role models. I’ve been lucky to have former bosses, professors, and co-workers whom I can lean on to make new connections and find my next steps. Though I’ve never been convinced of the dichotomy between introverts and extroverts, I think I’m similar to a lot of people in that my energy and comfort level to “network” is situation-dependent. Asking a new connection to get coffee always felt like a weird first date to me, and I always felt like I was taking time from busy people when I didn’t have anything to give in return. Through my experience at Exponential Impact, my perspective has shifted. I’ve seen how generous and selfless our mentors are, who have benefited from mentors in their own life and who are looking to provide that same level of support to an eager entrepreneur. The relationships I have with mentors doesn’t feel transactional or cursory. Like all things XI, the mentorship is holistic, and goes beyond business to focus on all of the needs of an individual.