Mentors Making a Difference

Seasoned Business Leaders Donate 3,000 Hours to Accelerate the Successes of Greater Cleveland Startups

Mar 26, 2014, 07:00 ET from JumpStart Inc.

CLEVELAND, March 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In March 2012, JumpStart Inc. ( launched a mentoring program to expand the nonprofit venture development organization's capacity to deliver high-impact business assistance to Greater Cleveland entrepreneurs. With the $1 million grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation ( in early 2013, the program has been able to recruit more talented mentors and entrepreneurs; expand its offerings of specialized, startup-focused guidance and assistance; and help more young, growing Northeast Ohio companies reach milestones and have compelling stories to tell. "By matching some of the region's most promising entrepreneurs with some of the region's most successful business leaders, we are accelerating these young companies' progress toward funding and revenue," explains the Program's founding director, Anthony Hughes.

To date, the mentoring program—which is now known as JumpStart's Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program—has grown to 43 mentors. These mentors have collectively donated 3,000 hours to guide the growth of 43 startups. "Our mentors are heavy hitters, from serially successful entrepreneurs to leaders in Fortune 500 companies," explains Hughes. "They're sharing their experience, expertise and networks to impact business outcomes for companies with game-changing technologies and high growth potential. It's their way of giving back. The community as a whole benefits when local tech-based businesses like the ones in our program are able to raise capital, generate revenue and create new jobs."

According to the Startup Genome Project, nascent companies that have helpful mentors, effectively track performance metrics and learn from startup thought leaders "raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth." Data and feedback collected from participants indicates the two-year-old Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program is having an impact already. With support from carefully constructed teams of mentors, clients have successfully piloted products, obtained first customers and raised capital—$6.3 million—while participating in the program.

"We built a really good product, but initially weren't sure of the best way to move forward," explains Gordon Daily, President of BoxCast, a live video streaming company. "It was five months after I started working with advisors that I got $300,000 to grow the business.  I had laid the foundation in terms of product, but I needed some help to get the business model and all its pieces in place.  The value of their counsel has been priceless."

Daily's not the only one happy with the process and the results. Nearly 97% of clients surveyed would recommend JumpStart's mentoring program to their peers. "It's enabled us to have some of the smartest folks in the country supporting our business," asserts Ryan O'Donnell, CEO of Sociagram, a company offering a cloud-based social video platform. Initially modeled after MIT's Venture Mentoring Service (MIT-VMS), JumpStart adapted the program to meet Northeast Ohio's unique needs and opportunities. "We have introduced our mentoring methodology to more than 35 institutions worldwide," says Michael Foster, MIT-VMS co-director. "JumpStart's implementation is one of the more successful we have experienced to date."

Jeff Hoffman, a member of Priceline's founding team, agrees. He's been mentoring for decades informally and formally through Stanford's Venture Lab, MIT's Enterprise Forum and increasingly throughout the world with the U.S. State Department's GIST Program. "JumpStart's mentoring program takes formal mentoring to the next level," says Hoffman. "The time they take to calibrate their entrepreneurs and to share valuable guidance on mentoring best practices sets them apart. Add to that the great dynamics that come with team mentoring and an almost maniacal focus on continuous improvement, and it is plain to see we have a world-class program right here in Northeast Ohio. I'm proud to be a part of it."

The Burton D. Morgan Mentoring Program is an invite-only initiative for mentors and early-stage Northeast Ohio companies. Mentors are introduced to the program on a referral basis and entrepreneurs who wish to be considered should first apply to access the space, advisors, capital and education available within the JumpStart Entrepreneurial Network at

JUMPSTART INC. JumpStart is committed to strengthening the economy through entrepreneurship. The nonprofit has been accelerating the successes of diverse entrepreneurs, their high growth companies and the ecosystems that support them since 2004. For more information, visit and follow @JumpStartInc on Twitter.


SOURCE JumpStart Inc.