Mentoring at Luminax Startup Accelerator

Darren RoganThe Chief

I had a wonderful day mentoring at the Luminax Startup Accelerator, where I mentored nine companies in the current 2023 cohort. It brings me great pleasure to be in my third year of mentoring on the accelerator. Given the broad scope of company focus, stage, and founders, I find it truly enjoyable to work with such a diverse range of goals and issues alongside the founders.

During my sessions, I engage in a wide array of conversations tailored to each company and their most pressing challenges.

We have discussed brand positioning and customer resonance, particularly with products that offer varying value to different archetypes. We have explored options for segmented house brand strategies to provide clarity within distinct cohorts. However, launching several brands with constrained resources can present additional difficulties.

We have also delved into discussions around customer discovery interviews, particularly with some of the early-stage companies. It is crucial to focus on the paying "customers" rather than the active "users" and understand what truly holds value for them. It's important to note that the expressed desires of your active user base may not align with those of your paying customers, as they are not necessarily the same individuals.

Considering the applicability of products and services to adjacent markets can significantly enhance the value of the business by expanding beyond the primary use case for which they were developed. It's worth recognising that many of the best inventions have been accidental discoveries.

As startups often seek investment, the question of traction arises when demonstrating their ability to solve business problems. However, the concept of traction is more complex than it may initially appear, as everyone's definition of traction can differ. The first step is to determine what traction metric is truly important for the specific company in question and explore the various options available to achieve it. More often than not, we discover that we have more options than we initially thought.

I strongly believe in the power of strategy, as it serves as the rudder guiding the ship of your startup. However, it is important to strike a balance between addressing the tactical needs of today and capitalising on future opportunities. The focus on what truly moves the needle cannot be understated, as meeting today's challenges is essential for securing tomorrow's success.

During these private sessions, I am not a cheerleader. I provide direct and candid feedback. I am confident that my involvement has a tangible impact on the companies I work with, and I am delighted to continue receiving positive feedback from the companies I engage with. It is also crucial to discuss the dynamics of mentorship and address healthy skepticism to ensure that the founders remain the captains of their own destinies.

I am genuinely excited to witness the progress of these companies throughout the program and in the years to come. Entrepreneurship is undoubtedly challenging and uncertain, but it can also be immensely rewarding. Considering the current difficulties in capital raising and other aspects, the path may be arduous, but I eagerly look forward to seeing these companies shine in the future.