In our newest series “Exchanging Perspectives” we invite two or more parties to talk to them about a topic. In this first episode we interviewed entrepreneur Jarrod Gott and his mentor Marcus Coolen about their relationship as mentee and mentor. Find out what it looks like and how having a mentor helps Jarrod to start his own company Osiris Biomedical Services.
Neuroscientist Jarrod Gott and Information Technology expert Marcus Coolen are in different fields, still Marcus guides Jarrod on his journey as an ambitious entrepreneur. Their relationship started when Jarrod participated in the Venture Track of the Mercator Launch IMRPOVE programme. Even though their respective fields might differ, Marcus—as an experienced entrepreneur—was asked to help Jarrod. As Marcus put it: “I was asked to take a look with Jarrod to see how his starting up process could be improved. His ideas are quite complex and very big, this means that they have a lot of details which in turn requires a lot of attention”.
Working out which of those details to prioritise and focus on is one of the things that helped Jarrod. Jarrod: “Marcus was really good at keeping me exactly on track, and reminding me of what needs to be done. There were so many things I was working on. It is easy to get distracted, thinking you need to put out a fire”. The ambitious entrepreneur had been negotiating with many organisations, so he needed to be able to show the key things he wanted to do. Marcus: “If you want to get support from other companies or people, it becomes important to present your ideas, strategic goals and priorities as clear as possible”.
All of Marcus’ support is on a voluntary basis, trying to give bits of information he has gathered through his years of experience: “Being an entrepreneur is not rocket science, but experience helps to speed up processes and Jarrod picks up on guidance extremely well.” Jarrod agrees that guidance can help to let things go smoother and picked up some extra skills because of this: “Slowly over time through a process of correction you figure out how to do things, such as presenting your priorities, without someone looking over your shoulder”.
According to Marcusits Jarrod’s ambition and drive that propels him forward, as he says occasionally giving advice is an easy part to play while Jarrod does all the hard work. Marcus: “To give you an example, Jarrod faced some challenges with funding. So I mentioned some scenarios how to implement his business model. After this he did all the research by himself during which he managed to find his final business model”. The bits of information Marcus gives act as reference points. Jarrod holds this against the opinions of other people he’s talking to, after which he makes his own call. Jarrod: “For example, Marcus told me about a way to keep my burn rate low. When I went to my accountants, some didn’t initially even know what I was talking about, but then they quickly accepted how clever it was, and agreed. This is the kind of stuff that I would have never figured out, if I was just reading documents on the internet”.
When asked Jarrod said he would definitely advice other entrepreneurs to seek out a mentor, as starting a business may be very complex and having a mentor has helped him in many ways. Adding to this, Marcus was quick to mention that you can only achieve success with the aid and support of others: “Figuring out an idea from a psychological or scientific point of view is one thing, turning it into an application and a profitable business model is another. Which is why Mercator Launch is doing very good things for these young people, trying to open doors for them.”
Seeking out a mentor is an integral part of the Venture Track of the Mercator Launch IMPROVE programme. The 2022 edition of the Venture Track is starting soon, get more information on its content here.