Mentorship is a staple component of private sector accelerators designed to maximize equity value and also of public sector initiatives created to support economic development. This paper examines whether, how, and when mentorship enhances startup performance. We show that mentorship drives startup performance. To address endogeneity concerns due to mentor selection, we exploit randomness in the availability of mentors to spend time with startups due to personal scheduling conflicts. We then show that one channel through which mentorship operates is founders learning how to set priorities for their companies. We conduct this empirical study using a novel panel of 289 high-technology startups participating in a global eight-month program for seed-stage companies.
Presenter: Amir Sariri (Purdue University)
Coauthors: Ajay Agrawal (University of Toronto) and Avi Goldfarb (University of Toronto)
Discussant: Melanie Wallskog (Duke University)