SINGAPORE, 18 MAY 2020, Monday – more than 140 venture firms, accelerators, incubators and other members of the startup community in Southeast Asia are coming out strongly to support a community-led campaign aiming to offer mentoring and virtual classes to startup founders affected by the COVID crisis.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 41% of startups globally are struggling, with a cash runway of 3 months or less (via VentureBeat). There are at least 20,000 jobs attributed to 3,800 startups in Singapore alone, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics’ data as of December 2018, which are now at risk due to the pandemic.
SOSV, Vertex Ventures, Gobi, Trive, Sequoia India, Golden Gate Ventures, Insignia Ventures Partners, Antler, BLOCK71 by NUS Enterprise, SGInnovate, STRIVE, and other investment professionals and corporate leaders have banded together to organize Mentor for Hope. It is an unprecedented month-long campaign where mentors pledge nearly 1,400 hours to provide mentorship to founders affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Interested founders and aspiring entrepreneurs can sign up via the FutureLab e-mentorship platform and make a request for the mentors they wish to meet. They will receive a Mentor for Hope Care package, comprising a one- hour mentoring by a suitable mentor and free virtual coaching group classes led by professional experts.
Mentor for Hope evolved from the “Gratitude-COVID mentoring initiative” started by Elise Tan Yee Ling in Singapore when her role at a venture firm was made redundant a month ago. Elise shares her motivation: “I might have lost my job but I thought that with the time I had on hand, I can help others keep theirs.” She was later joined by Sharon Yeo Mei Ching and Gwen Sim, both final-year students at National University of Singapore. Over 120 introductions have been made between founders and mentors since 1 April 2020.
One of the participants, Benjamin Gabriel, had to postpone all live events in March which his event-ticketing and vendor booking app, Orgeva, was supporting due to the pandemic, leaving him fearing the worst for his company and its survival. That was when he signed up for the mentoring initiative via Linkedin and was matched to Jeffrey Paine, Managing Partner of Golden Gate Ventures. In spite of his busy schedule, Jeffrey has provided him with useful, actionable advice.
“What we have created in a short time is a mini accelerator program for founders across all stages to receive 1-on-1 mentoring with industry leaders, group mentoring with senior investors and masterclasses organized by experts, with a purpose to give back as well.”, shares Elise.
“It is imperative for all of us to work together to help our community navigate this challenging period. By participating in programs such as Mentor for Hope, all of us at Sequoia India are happy to reiterate our commitment to founders in Singapore and to those in the startup ecosystem most impacted by this crisis,” said Abheek Anand, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore.
Joo Hock Chua, Managing Partner of Vertex Ventures SEA, adds: “This Mentor for Hope community initiative is a great effort to help founders and support charity. I am happy that Vertex is playing our part to help. Vertex is working with Beyond Social Services whose 3,000 members are mostly employed in low-paid, daily-rated precarious work.”
Mentor for Hope
Mentor for Hope is a first-of-its-kind campaign in South East Asia, supported by venture capitalists and members of the South East Asian startup community to mentor founders adversely impacted by the COVID crisis.
Gratitude-COVID mentoring initiative
The Gratitude-COVID mentoring initiative is a ground-up, non-profit initiative founded by Elise Tan Yee Ling in April 2020. It aims to bring together investors and corporate leaders together to mentor startup founders who face dire challenges due to the COVID crisis. The mentoring areas span across remote team management, cash flow management, and fundraising during COVID-19. The goal is to bring the SEA startup community closer together and help each other so that we may emerge more united, stronger and more resilient after the crisis.
Co-organizer for Mentor for Hope
Phone: +65 8210 5513