KANSAS CITY—It’s no secret that Sprint is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and startups succeed in Kansas City. First, with the establishment of the Sprint Accelerator powered by Techstars, and now through the creation of The Mentor Network.
The six-month mentor program brings together a group of local startup founders and pairs them with corporate executives to help grow their business and bridge the gap between startup community and corporate tech. The program has already completed its first round of mentor and founder pairings and is in the middle of the second group.
The Mentor Network gives startups the chance to ask mentors any questions they may have about their business, but also gives young businesses the opportunity to create connections in the area.
“I thought creating relationships with local businesses and groups was really valuable,” Jason Reid, a first-round Mentor Network participant and the co-founder of Trellie, told SPN. “Being able to access different people outside our networks and get a different perspective was really helpful.”
Although the first round of the Mentor Network experience officially ended several months ago, Reid says the relationship he developed with his mentor, Angela Chammas VP of Talent Management at Sprint, has remained strong.
Connections between startups and corporate executives is what the Mentor Network program aims to create and likewise, it intends to pair startups with executives that will help them with their business obstacles.
“They asked us some guiding questions about what we needed the most help in and we said legal, so they matched that,” Andrew Stanley, co-founder of VolunteerMark and current participant of the program, told SPN. “It’s very hard to find legal assistance and lawyers are expensive so it’s been very beneficial.”
Stanley’s mentor Mike P. Allen works in Sprints legal department. The mentors and startups are chosen from Sprint’s network of entrepreneurs within the KC community.
In addition to providing startups with useful connections, the program benefits mentors like Chammas. Chammas took the opportunity presented by the Mentor Network to pursue her passion of helping others by becoming one of the mentors during the first round of the program.
“I am a huge proponent of giving back in the community. I don’t think I’d be sitting in this chair if someone hadn’t helped me,” Chammas said. “I have experience that I am more than happy to give to so others can meet their dreams.”
In all, the Mentor Network has seen 18 founders, 18 primary mentors and 10 secondary mentors from the first two rounds of its program. These interactions between mentors and founders have accumulated at an estimated 80 hours of mentoring. The third session of the program is scheduled to start in November with 10 more founders and mentors, who will continue to grow the program’s network.
“Getting a sense of spirit and support within the community was a benefit to me,” Chammas said. “I am much more excited and feel a sense of opportunity in Kansas City.”