Advisors & Mentors Guide

Welcome Advisors & Mentors!

We value your service to the Columbia Community and your critical role in building up the innovation startup ecosystem. We recognize your talent and thank you for joining us in hacking for people and the planet.

Fellow mentors come from a range of backgrounds and expertise. These span from operating, investing, and functional backgrounds (design, engineering, data science, marketing, and business modeling, etc.) to tech, research, and domain specialties.

The trait that unites you all is your enthusiasm to aid our founding teams on their journey as entrepreneurs achieving impact. Please feel free to collaborate with your fellow mentors.

The team mentors will assist in a variety of duties. Mentors will enable teams to:

  • Strategize customer discovery to validate and quantify pain points and opportunities,

  • Design solutions and business models,

  • Learn how to test their business model hypotheses for viability and product market fit,

  • Measure intended impact,

  • Evaluate the market opportunity and competitive landscape,

  • Formulate go to market strategy,

  • Identify funding needs,

  • Devise a common language to engage with customers, partners, and investors, and

  • Synthesize preliminary findings into effective pitches to potential investors.

Your approach will be as a provider of strategic, tactical, and networking guidance. Please open your network to our students as you see fit.


  • Mentoring will be virtual via Zoom (IRL option for Columbia faculty, students, and researchers).

  • Mentors assigned specific teams for the weekend should be available in 30-45 minute increments on Saturday and Sunday to field questions and provide advice.

  • Floating mentors should sign up for two-hour time slots in the morning or afternoon. There will be four shifts to choose from.

Rules of Conduct

  • Be honest, authentic, and encouraging,

  • If you don’t agree with a team’s perspective or hypothesis, get them to prove it,

  • Identify gaps in their thinking but let them come to their own conclusions,

  • Respect the confidentiality of the participants.

Thank you and enjoy the experience!