I just spent an hour updating my Linkedin profile. FlashStarts is the first business I have started where Linkedin has provided clear value. And that value is proving to be significant.
FlashStarts, like most startup accelerators, is based on a network of mentors. Mentors provide advice, feedback, introductions, occasionally wisdom, and sometimes funding. Linkedin is ideally suited for this model. The underlying network model enables business connections across people, companies, and groups. We are already using Linkedin in a variety of ways: for mentor bios, applicant resumes, mentor group communications, team/mentor pairing, alpha customer introductions, and funding introductions.
If you go visit the just-published mentor page and then click to learn more about an individual mentor you will be taken to a FlashStarts page with the mentor’s resume drawn directly from their current Linkedin profile page. Here’s my FlashStarts Bio page. It has most of the information on my Linkedin page, except for awards, patents, and few other items.
This was all accomplished with the Linkedin API, a clever WordPress plugin, and few minutes of work. This approach saved hours of time, delivered good results, and most importantly, never needs editing because updates occur automatically.
One of the requests on our application form is to provide the link for each team member’s Linkedin profile. This saves everyone time during the review process, and prepares the candidates for using Linkedin in the subsequent phases.
We have created a FlashStarts Mentors Group. All mentors belong to this group, within which we communicate and coordinate everyone’s efforts towards our common goal of building great companies. Discussions are used to improve best practices and polls are used to make group decisions. If you are a FlashStarts Mentor please make sure you have joined this group. If you would like to be a mentor you can email us or simply apply to join the FlashStarts Mentors Linkedin Group
One of the best and worst practices we identified in our accelerator research and interviews is matching mentors to teams. While we can claim no scientific breakthroughs yet, using Linkedin as a means of teams determining which mentors they think might provide the most value, and letting mentors view deep background on accelerator participants at least provides the richest possible data set for evaluation. It also allows teams to selectively and independently seek out mentors for specific purposes or to locate a better match.
As we move further into the accelerator process we will provide additional posts on using Linkedin for customer discovery, fund raising, and other uses.