“The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely” – William Osler

October 8, 2014


September 17th, 2014


Today we officially kick off the Startup Quest program. Today’s main event was the ranking of mentors and technologies, but before we started that process we got to hear from our first guest speaker, Sandra Gadsden, from the Edible Peace Patch Program.

Sandra gave us her background in journalism, how she served as an editor of the Tampa Bay Times and now, how she serves the Edible Peace Patch. As she let us know more about her history she told stories of the importance of working as a team, becoming a leader, important marketing techniques, and much more. Her speech was a great introduction leading up to the mentors spiels because it allowed the participants to reflect on the importance of leadership and teamwork. She was an amazing speaker and we are very thankful she could come join us.

Now, for the main event, the ranking process. To build the teams, participants rank mentors and their technologies and submit their preferences to the Startup Quest team. While participant preference is important, we also want each team to have a range of experience and expertise. A team of accountants might come up with killer financials, but there is a lot more to building a business plan. The goal is to have all the necessary disciplines and skills represented on each team.

One by one the mentors took the stage to give their spiels – their elevator pitches for their mentoring styles and technologies.

Then, it was on to “speed dating.”  This portion of the day is key, the mentors move from table to table speaking to people in smaller groups, answering participant questions, and giving an idea what working with them would be like. This was an opportunity for participants to ask questions about the technology and the mentors so they could better make their choices.

After speed dating it was time for every participant to make their decisions. They used the notes they took, the questions they had, and the things that most interested them and listed the mentor and their technology from 1 to 10. 1 being their most desired team and 10 being their least. The room suddenly felt like a final exam in college, people were huddled over their papers. They were rubbing their foreheads, shaking their heads, and crossing things off then scribbling them back on. It was intense.

Then one by one they began to turn them in. Many times I heard “I couldn’t decide so I just went with my gut.” And honestly, that’s sometimes the best way to do it.

It was a long day, but an important one. Can’t wait until next week, the real work begins.