You’ve seen them, you’ve talked to them, you’ve confided in them. Yet the EIR role at SBC is often misunderstood. Here are a few pointers that will hopefully help the following batch of EIRs and startups to get the most out of the mentorships.
First things first. What is an EIR?
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know myself exactly what an EIR was when I first signed up for this. Truth is, I am still not sure. And that’s okay because EIRs are everything and nothing, they are that “help-from-home” you didn’t know you needed until you do. EIR stands for Entrepreneur in Residence, who could be a founder of a startup or alumni of SBC. This kind of mentor is the one who will act as your personal empathy box since they know what you are going through. Other mentors that can help you out are IIRs (Intrapreneur in Residence), who come from corporate backgrounds and can help you connect with a dream client or to develop a pilot project. Then there are the Experts, who will help you with a specific task, and the Fundraisers, who have experience in raising capital.
When it comes to approaching EIRs for help, the key is in being proactive and directed. Your relationship with EIRs is very much one of mutual benefit, as they are problem-solvers and are here to learn. So whether it’s a lunch, a beer, or a Ping-Pong match (at your own risk), it’s always a good opportunity to connect and have an informal chat that can lead to valuable insights. EIRs work with multiple startups at once, so they can also act as “connectors” and see where startups can interact and mutually benefit. Some things to remember are that just like in any relationship you have to be fair and transparent with your expectations – being an EIR is an unpaid role and therefore you have to be realistic with the time commitment you can expect.
So, what’s in it for the EIR? First of all, what draws all EIRs together is their curiosity and excitement for innovation. From connecting with so many different startups and ideas, EIRs gain knowledge of a diverse range of industries. That being said, they are also aware of the pitfalls that startups can encounter, so this is a great opportunity to exchange best practices. By being an EIR you also become part of a community, in this case, the SBC community, where you gain exposure and a valuable network. This helps an entrepreneur become more visible and credible in the startup ecosystem. Lastly, being an EIR it’s a mix between being on a fast-track entrepreneurship course and solving puzzles all day long with like-minded people.
Working as an EIR for the 2019 Startupbootcamp Commerce cohort has been fascinating. Sharing ideas, but also struggles, has helped both the EIRs and the startups gain perspective on the process and results of this past few months. From our EIR non-desk we have had the privilege to be connected with all the startups in the cohort on a professional and personal level. Because of this, the EIRs have a unique point of view and can act as the intersection of the cohort. With a month to Demo Day and startups getting ready to pitch, the EIRs are here to help with any glitch.