The hands-on mentoring process that guides student new venture teams along the path from early-stage idea to launch-ready venture is an integral part of the McGuire Experience.
The McGuire Entrepreneurship Program is a yearlong, team-based, experiential program in which University of Arizona students from all fields of study team up to build a new venture from the ground up under the guidance of our full-time Entrepreneurship Mentors in Residence. Our experienced and successful Mentors in Residence teach our capstone Venture Development classes, but their roles extends far beyond the classroom. Early in the Fall semester, each student new venture team is matched with a Mentor in Residence who they will meet with weekly throughout the year to receive individual coaching as they advance their new venture.
In honor of National Mentoring Month, we will highlight a McGuire Program mentor each week. This week, meet Communications Mentor Randolph Accetta who has been teaching McGuire Program students new venture communication strategies since 2007.
Q. What is your background in entrepreneurship and innovation?
A. As an academic, the teaching of entrepreneurship has been my innovation. My PhD is in American Literature and I wrote an award-winning dissertation that was basically a mash-up of American Lit, technologies for distance learning, and pedagogy. That path led me to teach at the Eller College where I've been the Communication Mentor at McGuire since 2007. I am also an innovator in the national running community, heading up a national running coaching program and owning Run Tucson, a local running company that enhances regional economic vitality and personal health.
Q. Why were you interested in mentoring student new venture teams in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program?
A. When I first started mentoring McGuire Program students I was struck by their passion to make a difference. The best McGuire students want to change the way things are done -- not just for the sake of change but to do things better, to make lives more productive, more safe, and more enjoyable. That squares with my own personal goals, so I love working with students with that passion.
Q. What sets you apart as a mentor?
A. I tell the truth. It is pretty easy to go easy on students, but I'm candid and straightforward in my assessment of their work and their choices. This helps my mentoring because the students know that I am not necessarily trying to make them feel good or motivate them to be better by giving them a free pass. They know that they will get my actual observation and my actual opinion on the quality of their choices. I think this lets them make new choices without worrying if I have a hidden agenda.
Q. What impact can mentoring have on startup success?
A. A good mentor balances the lessons of the past with the possibilities of the new. I think a mentor can help companies avoid bad choices while encouraging experimentation and innovation. A good mentor also has a web of contacts to help companies fill their internal gaps.