Mentor Network

CTNext has created a mentoring network of experienced entrepreneurs, executives and investors to help 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 to help shape and participate in a startup mentor community, make a difference in Connecticut’s growth economy, learn new things, and develop new connections.

Quick link to following section:

Apply for a Mentor

Our goal is to match you—one of Connecticut’s most promising startups—with a local mentor who has proven experience, who can 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 a strong management team

We strongly encourage companies with diverse management teams to apply.

How do I get started?
We are not accepting applications for our next cohort at this time. Please check back in the Fall to apply!

Become 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 hold “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.

Upcoming Dates

Deadline for next cohort applications will be announced soon.

Key Mentors

Maureen Ahern
E-Commerce Partner, Mentor, Public Speaking Professor, Deal maker, Lifelong learner, Head Cheerleader, Focus – Revenue generation.

Mentoring ignites potential. It can create an equation where 1+1=3. The relationship provides different perspectives, creates accountability, generates momentum and energizes everyone involved.”

Hadi Bozorgmanesh
Startup mentor, Investor, Technology Entrepreneur, Educator, have been through it all more than once!

If you are going through hell, keep going.” 

-Winston S. Churchill

Ann Buivid
Corporate refugee and accidental entrepreneur. Giving straight talk from a broad perspective to help build solid foundations for fledgling ideas.

Good mentoring can turn the mayhem of entrepreneurship into magic! “

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.”

Vincent D’Agostino
Angel Investor, Startup Advisor and Entrepreneur; Co-Founded Level Up Village, Brilig and Webloyalty

There are few things as exhilarating and lonely as founding a business. All entrepreneurs need an unbiased sounding board and someone to provide an occasional sanity check – that’s the role of a mentor.”

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.”

Bill Field
BTB Guru and Channel Expert

Manage your brand in the channel or the channel manages your brand for you.”

Chris Gelnaw
Founder, CEO, Strategic Thinker, Problem Solver, Mentor

Mentors have boosted me personally and professionally because we each gave as much as we gained. I hope to pay it forward.”

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.”

Jen Gorin
Social Responsibility Activist. I help companies identify practical ways to be more socially and environmentally conscious.

Mentors help entrepreneurs identify business drivers that may not be core to business but are important to long term success and impact. Proactive thinking about social and environmental responsibility from day 1 will make ongoing implementation and improvement more achievable.”

Mark Hayes
Transformational Strategist, Business Builder and Operating Executive

I believe in the ability of others and the collective to do great and impactful things. I have been fundamentally shaped by a series of mentors with deep backgrounds in government, business and the not for profit sector. My opportunity is to support the evolution and success of others as they are embarking on the next leg to their personal and professional journeys; in the face of challenges, to exploit opportunities and to connect with others to realize and deliver on the tangible business value.”

Michael Horton
CFO, Entrepreneur, Team Builder, Practical Solutions to Business Challenges

Throughout my career, mentors have guided me, helping me choose the best path for me to succeed.”

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.”

Walter Kawecki
Founder, CEO, Strategic Thinker, Problem Solver, Mentor

Mentors have proved invaluable to me, both in business, and personally. Now, having overcome many obstacles and persevered through many challenges, it’s time for me to do my part in helping other startup founders on their path to success.”

Scott Kozak
Entrepreneur, educator and mentor with 30+ year Life Sciences Career

The ingenuity, constant generation of ideas, energy and excitement from our CT community never ceases to amaze me.”

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.”

Sheila Narayan
Mentor, Angel Investor, Consultant

Every entreprenuer’s journey is unique and mentors play a critical role for early-stage companies as an advisor, sounding board, and advocate. I enjoy helping Founders take their ideas and begin to develop actionable strategies. Being a mentor has been one of the most rewarding and inspiring roles in my career.”

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.”

Michael Peroni
A hands-on mentor who will walk a mile in your shoes to help you meet your goals and ambitions

I’m a highly constructive person who uses my finance and managerial skills and network to help companies reach their full potential.”

Eugenio Perrier
Global CMO, Advisor, passionate about food, innovation and entrepreneurship

Founders are rich, but of ingenuity, which is what makes the impossible become possible and the world progress. Helping founders to identify the right customers and bring value to the market, while learning from their ingenuity, is one of the most rewarding activities one could experience.”

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.”

Ellen Su
Designer & Entrepreneur, CEO & Co-Founder of Wellinks. Focus on operations and product for early stage startups.

Founding a startup is a difficult job, especially for first-time founders. We made a lot of mistakes our first time, and I want to help other founders anticipate upcoming challenges and avoid those mistakes. I’ve gotten a lot of guidance, advice, and moral support from founders that were just a few years ahead of us, and I want to do the same for others.”

Don Tirea
VP Partnerships & Strategic Accounts – MindTrust, Partner – Checkmate Digital (acquired), Co-Founder – DappDevs

Knowledge is meant to be shared and people are meant to be connected. Share what you know and keep to yourself what you don’t.”

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.”

Explore the Entrepeneurial Ecosystem

Connecticut is home to a network of resources and supports for entrepreneurs—the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Ecosystem Overview