What I learned from being a mentor at Startup Weekend Hong Kong


Startup weekend finally ended in Hong Kong and filmSkout were the winners this time around.

It was a great turn out of about 14 teams each working diligently toward a common goal.

Being a mentor, I saw teams struggle through all sort of difficulties ranging from direction, customer validation, product, business model, presentation and pitching. The same usual issues you have when forming a startup.

Startup weekend brought people from all different background. We had filmmakers, students, recent graduates, corporate workers, serial entrepreneurs, and financial officers from all over the world. It was quite diverse and made it more enjoyable.

I wanted to thank startup weekend for letting me be a coach and helping these teams out because I too have been coached many times before (my old coach William Liang was there as a mentor too! So coaching alongside my old coach). 

I realized what the struggles of being a mentor were as often times, people will not approach you for help and thus you need to take the first step and ask how they were doing. The reasons being that a lot of them were too busy working away and didn’t want to get distracted, a good reason, but sometimes asking for advice can play a long way. My advice for coaches and startup weekend is to have coaches come in at morning time and the last few hours before presentation. I felt from having discussed it with other coaches that it’s when we make the most impact.

It’s always a challenge to mentor someone or teams because like many startups, people often “fall in love with their own monkey” (audio link to listen to) as my coach Paul Orlando repeatedly has told us not to do. The one common trait from many teams is too late or not enough customer validation is done which is why our accelerator program really stresses the importance of doing it. There were teams that did not want to do it even with our recommendation. I have said to few that we are not there to make their life harder and give them more work but to better themselves, which is the point of this weekend. It’s something startups often do many times over.

However at the end, when all the teams have gone and presented, you feel proud that the people you were able to help in some ways did their best, had fun, and learned a great deal. That being one of the points of startup weekend; we saw friendships being formed, potential startups coming forth, and teams overcoming great difficulties. I now have bigger respects for my mentors. 

I went in not sure how this would turn out, as this is my first time mentoring at Startup Weekend. I wanted to grow myself and pass on knowledge that I acquired from my hard times and make sure that others have it easier if even by a little. In a sense, I feel I did grow and it was thanks to the teams that were there to give me feedback as a coach and listen to my advice. Mentoring is a good when both the mentor and mentee grow and learn from each other. It’s definitely something I would do again and encourage others to do. 

Great job to all teams at this Startup Weekend!


Check out the pictures from the event taken by my friend, Vaughn Hew


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