“Being a mentor is not for everyone. It is necessary to have an open and empathic mind to provide useful methods and tools and communicate feedback with transparency and honesty”. This is the sum up of what Raffaele Mauro, Managing Director at Endeavor Italy, told us in the following interview.
What does mentor mean to you under a practical point of view?
It means becoming a point of referral and generating a positive impact that goes beyond the circle of those directly interested (family, company), aiming at improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
-) The culture of “giveback”, and in particular of mentoring, is crucial in areas where innovation and creativity are the driving force of the economy.
-) One of the most interesting aspects of being a mentor of young people is the “reverse mentoring”: the opportunity to learn from those who have fresher perspectives even though with less experience.
What characteristics must a mentor have to be effective?
-) Mental openness: A mentor must be able to identify with their interlocutor’s current situation, which can all be very different from person to person: from their income to the socio-demographic background, or facts related to one’s personal life.
-) Empathy is fundamental in this context.
-) Provide methods. Often the best mentorship does not give immediate answers to specific issues, but instead provides methods, tools and approaches to effectively solve the problem. The mentee will not receive a simple answer but the best strategies to apply in the future.
-) Transparency and honesty. It is often better to provide long-term very clear perspectives by being critical of certain assumptions, strategies and behaviors, despite the risk of hurting the interlocutor’s pride in the short term. In this way, their perspectives can truly evolve whereas the same effect would not be obtained giving a “watered down” feedback
Endeavor supports “high potential” entrepreneurs. How are they selected?
These are the selection criteria:
-) Business. The success of the company in the past and its potential future impact
-) Timing. An “inflection point” in which the company can potentially take off
-) Person. The ability of the entrepreneur to be a leader in his field and to be an example for others. The most suitable mentality for giveback and a network context
What particular characteristics do the entrepreneurs identified in Italy have compared to those of other countries where Endeavor is active?
As of today, we have selected 28 entrepreneurs in Italy. The characteristics we look for are the same for all the countries Endeavor operates in: entrepreneurial skills and a company that has the potentials to scale on a global level. Right now, we are focused on selecting women entrepreneurs as they are not present in our network, while they are in many other Endeavor’s local networks.
What would the Fintech sector need to grow and become more competitive internationally in Italy?
-) Compliance facilitation and, in particular, reduced timing, alignment of interlocutors, light regulation for small fintech structures
-) Larger investments in venture capital and facilitation of exit strategies in the fintech sector (e.g., with tax credit)
-) More academic training on key skills: data science, machine learning, software infrastructure, user experience.
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