Mentoring: a tool for excellence in the future

Katharina Kittelberger


It seems like the world has been spinning faster lately. These increasingly complex times make it impossible to keep track of all developments, because what is valid today may already be obsolete tomorrow. However, this does not have to be a disadvantage. On the contrary! Nobody knows everything. But the good news is: no-one has to.

5-HT now offers a solution that supports startups even more efficiently in building and implementing their ideas: Mentoring. Through this, young companies find individual assistance as well as advice for their projects. 5-HT is convinced that a constant learning from and with each other is a basic requirement to be agile and innovative. That is why we have built up a network in which the exchange of knowledge takes place over short distances.

Successful people never reach their goal alone - What is mentoring?

The term mentoring is generally understood to mean a type of partnership in which experienced mentors pass on their knowledge to their mentees. A characteristic of the relationship is that it is always personal. The mentor and mentee are in direct contact with each other. Because the mentee, with his/her questions and challenges, is always at the center, the relationship is individual. Ultimately, the relationship is always success-oriented, which means that both parties pursue the goal of sustainably and positively influencing their respective professional or personal development.
Mentors are therefore role models and sources of inspiration, whose support can be used to drive forward new ideas and innovations.

The mentor - a portrait

Through a wealth of experience gained over many years, mentors have a different perspective on things, which is why they have the ability to calculate solutions better and recognize risks sooner.
This "always being one step ahead" is invaluable, especially for our startups. Added to this is the technical and industry expertise, which rests on an accumulation of experience already gained.
However, the portrait is not only rounded off by success stories, but much more by past setbacks that have been overcome and from which conclusions have been drawn.

A few years ago, I founded a startup for a large chemical company. In the end, the product didn’t succeed on the market, so I know how difficult it is. But that, too, has to be learned. And if I can help others do that, I'm happy to do it.

Tom Witzel, Startup Coach, mentor at 5-HT.

Yet ultimately, the most important quality is that mentors are constantly interested in passing on their wealth of experience and exchanging knowledge.

A key for every lock - Networks

5-HT strives for the continuous expansion of a heterogeneous mentor network, because we know: every startup has individual needs, which is why, depending on the project, different mentors from various fields and industries are in demand. Marco R. Majer, Head of Ecosystems, is also of the opinion that during a startup journey, different views and perepectives are crucial.

Bundling experts in various fields ensures that the founding team will receive valuable feedback.

Marco R. Majer, Head of Ecosystems.

Experiences are unique, and that also applies to the future mentor-mentee relationships. This is because, in addition to the specialist orientation, the maturity of the startup naturally also plays an enormously important role. In the initial phase, these require different assessments and advice than those that are already in the maturity or expansion phase.

Diverse expertise means support in a wide range of specialist areas - even across borders, as the majority of our mentors have excellent relationships with industry and specialist experts abroad.

What makes 5-HT special is primarily their international approach. This makes them one of the best accelerators.

Martin Thöle, AAAgiler, mentor at 5-HT.

This not only gives our startups valuable insights into the different global markets, but also enables them to establish contacts in a worldwide context in the future.
5-HT acts as a facilitator, helping startups to find a suitable mentor, taking into account their respective interests and orientations.

More than just a piece of the pie

On the one hand, startups benefit from the excellent advice of our mentors, who can take their projects to the next level.
On the other hand, through the network exchange, our mentors not only continue to have the opportunity to follow the latest developments in their field of expertise on the market. Rather, they can also become part of a possible solution themselves through inspiring advice.

What is particularly striking is the special quality that is evident in 5-HT.

Frank Tepper-Sawicki, Dentons Europe LLP, mentor at 5-HT.

Alright let’s go! Or wait…?

As well as some interest profiles would theoretically fit together, practically there are some factors that cannot be matched in advance based on the same interests as well as subject and industry areas: Empathy, frequency and harmony are just a few examples here.
Therefore, a functioning mentor:mentee relationship requires one thing above all - trust.
In order to create the most efficient working atmosphere possible, in which open and honest discussions can take place and constructive criticism can be made, both parties must know where they stand. If topics or issues are deliberately withheld, sessions cannot be as successful as if potential inhibitions have been removed in advance.

Needless to say when talking about trust, not mentor, nor mentee will be bounded by a contract. Moreover, their relation is driven by giving-and-taking. Perhaps though, expressing appreciation for each other as well as gaining reputation after some successful support will strengthen the relationship.
Finally, openness and transparency on both sides is crucial for developing an atmosphere in which questions can be asked directly, without being worried about possible disadvantages.

Goodbye hierarchy

At 5-HT, we have set ourselves the goal of ensuring that information relevant to decision-making is no longer reserved exclusively for people with management responsibility. Rather, we want to give as many people as possible access to knowledge so that they can act effectively themselves.
The role of mentor is not exclusively linked to managers. Because employees are usually closer to products, customers and processes, their opinions on certain topics can also be of significant relevance.
For this reason, 5-HT is constantly striving to expand this network, because the more mentoring becomes a matter of course, the better the transfer of knowledge and cooperation will be in an increasingly complex (working) world.

What I find so particularly great about 5-HT is that they operate in an interdisciplinary field. This brings together so many competencies and results in a nice, big mix.

Marie Asano, ECBF, Advisory Board at 5-HT.

What lies ahead?

5-HT wants to live up to every demand each of our startups has. Furthermore, according to Majer:

an extensive network of mentors is part of our mission to support startups with an individual and demand-based approach.

Marco R. Majer, Head of Ecosystems.

With as many experts as possible from different fields and industries, we want to make it easier for startups to find individual support and constructive feedback.
In addition, the ideal is that the mentors offer the startups the opportunity to open doors and thus pave the way for a successful future.

But who are these mentors? In order to further illustrate our appreciation for them, we at 5-HT would like to regularly publish their individual life stories in the future. What moves our mentors and how do they want to move?

We will present them regularly in our blog.

Take a look at our mentors already here!

The project of 5-HT to build a mentor-network is one of serval projects the ministry of economy, work and housing Baden-Württemberg sponsors.

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