Mentoring Network

CTNext, in partnership with The Refinery, has developed a mentoring network of experienced entrepreneurs, executives and investors to help the accelerate the growth of Connecticut’s most promising early-stage ventures. Companies that are interested in participating must apply and have a product or digital service already launched or in test, a significant value proposition, a large market opportunity and a strong management team. We encourage companies with strong and diverse management teams to apply. The mentors will work with these select entrepreneurs to scale their business by validating their long-term visions, customer acquisition, and capital-raising strategies. Companies will have the opportunity to get objective feedback and guidance on growing a company; to be more knowledgeable about other resources, tools and programming; to become part of a community of like-minded people; and to increase network connections.

We are looking to round out our team of mentors with additional successful entrepreneurs/executives/investors that are ready to give back, and at the same time, help boost Connecticut’s economy and startup ecosystem.  This is a unique opportunity help shape and participate in a startup mentor community and: make a difference in Connecticut’s growth economy; learn new things; and develop new connections.

Big news for companies considering applying for the new CTNext Mentor Network: Those companies that qualify for the network will become eligible to win a special EIA (Entrepreneur Innovation Award) worth up to $20,000.

Apply for a Mentor Become a Mentor

Our goal is to match you—one of Connecticut’s most promising startups—with a local mentor who has proven experience to serve as a trusted sounding board and help accelerate your growth.

What do I get?

  • A mentor with specific, relevant experience
  • Support and feedback focused on your company
  • Introductions to a new network of resources

How does it work?

If you’re accepted into the program, you’ll be matched with one of our mentors. He or she will then meet with you to help you address your high-level needs and tackle your areas of focus.

Who’s eligible?

The program is limited to select early-stage companies based in Connecticut.

Companies must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a proven product/market fit
  • Are producing revenue/have traction (thresholds vary by industry)
  • Represent an investable opportunity
  • Have reached an inflection point for growth
  • Have strong management team

We strongly encourage companies with diverse management teams to apply.

How do I get started?

To be considered, complete and submit the form below by 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

Apply for a Mentor

Would you like to make a difference in Connecticut’s growth economy? Are you interested in learning new things, developing new connections and being part of a community of like-minded people? You’ve come to the right place. We’re so glad you’re interested in becoming a mentor. We’re seeking experienced entrepreneurs, executives and investors with proven success in the startup ecosystem to mentor Connecticut’s most promising startups.

How do I know if I am eligible?

Criteria for acceptance are:

  • Startup experience–either as a founder, investor or leadership team member
  • Prior mentoring experience
  • Not looking to sell services to startups
  • Willing to give at least one hour per week for three to four months
  • Specific leadership, functional or industry expertise

How does it work?

If you are approved to become a mentor, you will participate in a mentor matching/company pitch event and you will select companies to work with. We will match you with those high-growth companies that will benefit from your unique experience. You’ll work with the leadership teams to ask the probing questions that will help solve high-level business challenges, offer introductions to your network, advice on how to scale and more.

What’s expected of me?

You’ll be expected to offer “office hours” (in person or virtually) at least once a week for a three-to four-month period.

We will provide training and guidance on our structured program and our company tracking and scheduling platform so you’re well prepared.

How do I get started?

To be considered, complete and submit this form by 11:59p.m. ET on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

Become a Mentor

Deadline Extended to Tuesday, February 19, 2019:
Deadline for company and mentor applications

Apply for a Mentor Become a Mentor
Janis Collins
Founder, Mentor, Investor, Speaker.
"Key mentoring can make the difference in a startup company’s growth acceleration. Great mentors provide feedback, guidance, connections and access to resources not always available to the entrepreneur."
Janet DeFrino
Founder, Advisor, Mentor, Investor.
"Helping founders focus on the key drivers of their business plays a role in an early-stage company’s success…and providing a well-timed boost of confidence can also be invaluable to these leaders."
Joe DeMartino
Angel Investor, Consultant and Adviser to Early-Stage Companies.
"Mentoring is all about giving founders time to articulate their vision, helping them to see what they’re really looking to do and helping them build a path toward that goal."
Galia Gichon
Entrepreneur, Investor, Personal Finance Expert, Author of My Money Matters.
"Mentoring startups has been one of the most satisfying parts of my career. From their unbridled enthusiasm, innovative ideas and ability to grow an early-stage company, it is a challenge I have treasured."
Bill Gordon
Serial Entrepreneur (Biotech and Broadband Networks), Social Innovator, Angel Investor, Dot Connector, Teacher and Mentor
"It is an honor to be able to give back through mentoring and other forms of teaching. I enjoy helping early-stage entrepreneurs, young and old, understand the beauty of the lean startup method for validating ideas."
Bruce Haymes
Innovator, Investor, Fund Advisor, Chief Partnership Officer Northeastern University.
"I enjoy mentoring founders as an unbiased outsider with connections, new ways to look at the business and market, and a risk-free ear to listen to the many challenges that an entrepreneur encounters."
Marty Isaac
Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Activist
"I enjoy helping companies to focus and build upon on their core value proposition and go-to-market strategy."
Marc Karasu
CMO, Advisor, helping businesses scale efficiently through performance branding
"I enjoy working with founders to help them share their mission and brand story and turn it into compelling, interruptive and memorable messaging and advertising."
Ojala Naeem
Innovator, Advisor, Entrepreneur
"A constructive sounding board is critical on the entrepreneurial journey. It is so important for entrepreneurs to be heard, and to receive guidance on how to navigate the ecosystem. My connections will serve as a bridge to resources that help tackle key challenges that startups face."
David Noble
Educator, mentor, fintech entrepreneur and investor, blockchain enthusiast and perpetual student in life
"Mentorship is an invaluable tool in the evolutional stages of a startup. To be honest, I learn more than I give. It is a great honor to help someone build something."
Kate Putnam
Mentor, angel investor, consultant, recovering CEO and curious person
"As a mentor, I share my own hard-fought lessons and learn a lot from the startups with which I work. Creating a vision and using SMART goals to drive the execution is important in turning an idea into a business."
Dave Sagers
Entrepreneur, Strategist, Investor
"Among many benefits, mentoring provides accountability. If someone is willing to contribute their time and experience to help you, it creates accountability to follow through and do what you say you will. We all need that."
Jonathan Saxon
Financial Executive, Investor, Creative Thinker, Connector, Networker.
"Having advised and invested in numerous early-stage companies, I have experienced the challenges that entrepreneurs take on. My passion is to help people achieve their goals and to develop financially secure businesses."
Hugh Seaton
Entrepreneur, Educator, CEO, Aquinas Learning.
"Mentoring is all about giving founders time to articulate their vision, helping them to see what they’re really looking to do and helping them build a path toward that goal."
David Todrin
Strategic and Financial Adviser for Entrepreneurs.
"Asking challenging questions of entrepreneurs to help them grow and thrive ensures that they thoughtfully evaluate their assumptions to keep the business grounded and focused on sustainable growth."
Rob Wengel
Innovator, Go-to-Market Strategist, Insights and Analytics Leader
"I learn something new from virtually every interaction with others. I try to connect the dots from their experiences to mine and back again. I love working with people who take their passion for an idea and run with it."
Justin Whitehead
Technology Leader, Startup Engineer, Team Builder, Investor
"Establishing the right group of mentors is pivotal to success. Fill your knowledge gaps quickly by learning from others' experiences. Find mentors that will be your biggest advocates, but at the same time challenge you."
Ira Yellen
Founder of three companies from which I see both sides of the entrepreneurial world
"As the founder of three companies, I have seen both sides of what it is to be an entrepreneur — inside out and outside in. I share my experience with entrepreneurs to help them see what they need to do to grow and sustain their business."


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The Entrepreneur Innovation Awards (EIA) was held in Hartford at Real Art Ways on Thursday, January 31, 2019. Stay tuned for upcoming Spring EIA.


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