Apply to be a First Round Fast Track Mentor
Interested in mentoring a First Round-backed founder or a member of their team? We’re opening up applications for our next cohort now.
By Serena Bian
At First Round, we’re obsessed with opening up conversations with our founders, listening deeply to their challenges and evolving our programming to offer the most targeted support. Over the years, these conversations have repeatedly surfaced one particular insight: For founders and founding teams, mentorship can be transformative. The difficulty lies in finding the right person at the right time to play that crucial role.
As a company scales from two founders to a 20-person team, problems start to grow in complexity — and people need to grow at a similarly rapid clip if they’re going to solve them. But early-stage startups are often short on resources. Established leaders and new managers alike find it tough to consistently offer professional development and seasoned guidance to their team.
We thought we could play a part in solving this problem. So in 2016, we launched our first mentorship cohort with just a few dozen Mentors (experts from our community) and Mentees (founders and high-impact employees). With this experiment, we set out to diagnose why mentorship usually goes sideways and design something that was different in all the right ways, hoping to uncover the secret sauce to making mentorship work at scale.
Since then, we’ve continued to iterate on and scale the program. After three years, six cohorts and hundreds of participants, this mentorship initiative has become one of the most impactful things we do at First Round. The feedback we’ve received from Mentees and Mentors over the years has been incredible:
- “My Mentor has seen a lot in the context of startups and had lots of advice on how to make things work. He’s the right mix of technical and growth-oriented, so it was a great match from the start.” — Gaurav Vohra, Growth Lead at Superhuman, Mentee in 3rd cohort
- “There was a beautiful recursive quality, where I was reminded of how much growth I’ve experienced professionally since I first stepped into a leadership role. It was deeply gratifying to watch my Mentee grow, and reminded me that I have a lot that I can share to help others. It was a good opportunity to take stock of my own learnings and experiences and be able to share it back. It was also an eye-opening experience into the questions / concerns that my direct reports may also have.” — Sally Carson, VP Product Design at Duo Security, Mentor in 6th cohort
Last year, for the first time, we decided to open up Mentor applications to operators from outside the First Round community. We had hundreds of the very best, most passionate folks in tech apply — and we’re excited to open up our call for Mentors once again.
How Fast Track works:
Fast Track is our 90-day mentorship experience pairing hundreds of tech leaders with First Round founders and their teams of high-potential operators. From August 15 to November 15, you’ll meet bi-weekly with your Mentee to help fast-track their learnings, stay focused on the right stuff, and grow their companies.
First Round Fast Track
Learn more about the mentorship experience, mentors in previous cohorts, and the details of how you can apply to join us this fall.
We’ll match you based on your strengths, the Mentees’ needs, and similarities in functional area and professional history. Most pairs will meet in-person, but we can also facilitate remote matches for folks outside of the Bay Area and New York. And along the way, we’ll arm you with best practices and help you deepen your coaching, advising, and mentoring skills.
What you’ll get from joining as a Mentor:
- Exclusive, Mentors-only programming: We believe that supporting Mentors’ growth generates a tide that lifts all ships. As a Mentor, you’ll receive invites to closed 16-person Salons to foster relationships with other brilliant Mentors and curated learning sessions just for Mentors. Past sessions have included cultivating high-quality relationships led by First Round board partner Chris Fralic and angel investing insights by partner Bill Trenchard.
- A community of seasoned operators: Mentors are placed in a cohort of other Mentors at or above your expertise level to foster lasting relationships. Our goal is to build 3–5 new connections for you over the course of 3 months.
- An experience that’s meaningful by design: Mentorship is made up of the memories that you cherish long after the program, the “aha” moments that change the course of your career. So, after four years of perfecting Fast Track, we’ve learned how to build those keystone moments into the programming to benefit Mentors: whether that’s deepening your own understanding of your goals, becoming a trusted advisor to the founder you mentor, finding career-changing opportunities, and even investing alongside fellow Mentors.
Who we’re looking for:
- The best operators at both early- and late-stage tech companies who are looking to give back to the community
- People starting companies someday — or thinking about it in the next couple of years
- Former founders looking to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of startup life
- Women, underrepresented minorities, and people who have had unconventional paths to tech.
If you read this and immediately think of someone who would make a great Mentor, please forward along this message and encourage them to apply.