Eric De Feo: External Mentor
Eric De Feo
“If you lead with strong values and a clear head on where you want to go, that will keep you going on your project when things get tough.”
What advice would you give someone interested in or beginning the 0->1 Challenge?
I would leave preconceptions of what you may think the outcome will be at the door. While you want to come with a bold perspective, it’s good to have some flexibility in how your idea ultimately pans out. Take in as much feedback and research from the beginning, then funnel and edit as you iterate on your idea.
Why do you think having an external mentor is important to the teams?
External mentors are essential for an outside, big-picture perspective. As someone who runs a startup incubator, there tends to be a chasm between mentors with corporate versus a startup experience. Both internal and external perspectives are valuable. In the corporate world, you are often handed a budget to work with and a team on hand to execute a project. In building a startup, you have to be much more creative on a thinner to no budget. When you build a team around you for a startup, it’s up to you to convince others that this is a good idea for people to spend time helping you build. An external mentor can give you insight into prioritizing what it takes to be creative in starting from zero.
Why should employees participate in the 0→1 Challenge? What’s in it for them?
The mentoring program provided me the opportunity to explore and learn about new industries and different business models. Being so deeply involved with NLu, I realized how important creativity and “out of box thinking” is a necessary mindset to be an entrepreneur in today’s world. NLu was a women led team and I was incredibly proud to help them and witness their strong presentation on Demo Day.
Why should employees participate in the 0→1 Challenge?
Building on what I addressed previously, participating in the 0→1 Challenge will expand your skillset, helping you think more creatively in your work and life. This is a great opportunity to test an idea and have the support network to fall back on. It’s easier playing the game of entrepreneurship in a corporate setting with resources around you, especially if it’s your first go-around at starting something new. You will build more confidence in your work, which will enable you to grow professionally, whether you choose to stick with corporate work or go out on your own.
What is the best advice you’ve received about entrepreneurship / intrapreneurship?
This is a mix of advice I’ve gotten and mostly guidance from my own lived experience of starting businesses and creative projects. Everything will take 3-5x longer than you think it will. Rarely anything happens overnight. If you lead with strong values and a clear head on where you want to go, that will keep you going on your project when things get tough. The entrepreneurial road is not a straight path, and you may take 2 steps back before you take 1 leap forward. But if you stick to your values, and lead with authenticity, you’ll go far because customers will see that, resonate with you, and want to purchase your product and/or service.