Interview with Zoltán Várdy, Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Senior Advisor of Design Terminal who shares his thoughts about incubation, about the Mentoring Program and about being a mentor
Zoltán Várdy – the former CEO of TV2 Hungary, former Sr. Vice President at NBCUniversal International (London), and the founder, investor and advisor for several national and international startups – supports Design Terminal’s work as Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Senior Advisor. His unique domestic and international professional experience in leadership, management, sales and marketing is essential in developing the agency's mentoring program, as well as, its innovation partnerships.
When does a startup need incubation?
Participating in an incubation process for an early stage company has the same effect that lift-off has on a rocket that’s standing still. The startup gets a strong, sudden boost that lifts it up from a standing start and propels it towards its ultimate destination. Of course, such lift-off is also possible without incubation but it often means participating in a much harder, more energy-consuming process.
How can Design Terminal’s Mentoring Program / the mentors / you help in that?
Design Terminal’s Mentoring Program creates the framework for a company’s development and fills it with meaningful content. The program guides the mentored company through a multistage process that includes product development, sales and marketing, organizational development and fund-raising. Experts, also know as mentors – who have either personally experienced the challenge of building a business or have knowledge of a specific industry or area of expertise – accompany these mentored companies along the way and give them valulable advice that supports their rapid development. In addition to this professional improvement plan, the program offers many possibilities for building valuable personal and professional relationships. All this can push the startup towards success.
What differs Design Terminal’s Mentoring Program from other national and international acceleration programs?
Design Terminal’s Mentoring Program includes the cornerstones found in virtually all good acceleration programs: professional content, experienced mentors and possibilities for networking. What makes Design Terminal’s program different from many other similar initiatives is the spirit in which it takes place. The mentored startups can work in a very positive and energetic environment where they can not only build their business but also support their personal development. An organization with the slogan “Optimist First” is unlikely to have a negative effect on anyone.
What do you get from the program as a mentor?
Mentors who actively participates in Design Terminal’s Mentoring Program have the opportunity to develop both professionally and personally. They can be exposed to the latest, most exciting business trends and solutions; they can share the knowledge and experience they have collected over the course of their careers with people who not only need it, but those who appreciate it the most. For those mentors who are also looking for angel investment opportunities, this program offers a great platform for discovering “pre-screened” companies that they can get to know during the mentoring process, thereby enabling them to make a more informed investment decision.
What trends do you see on your own field to which a startup has to pay attention?
I meet lots of startups that offer a technology solution to a legitimate problem. Sadly, this is not enough to become successful. Such technology solutions are only valuable if they are ‘packaged’ into a product or service that a potential customer is willing to pay more for than the cost of producing or delivering it. I often miss this basic business-focused attitude in startups, and therefore, I think the critical challenge these companies face is trying to incorporate this thinking into their business. Design Terminal’s Mentoring Program can help them in this process, and it is the type of challenge in which I can and would most like to participate.
If you are interested in being a mentor, please click here: http://designterminal.org/looking-for-mentors