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Most entrepreneurs worth their salt will know the importance of finding the right mentor.

Reports have shown how being mentored by the right person can prove to be highly beneficial for a startup’s growth and overall performance. Mentoring helps entrepreneurs realise it’s not all about chasing growth; one has to be smart and not forego proper planning in the namesake of greed and impatience.

Any hungry young startup would know that joining an accelerator programme is a good start towards seeking mentorship. However, not all young enterprises have the time or resources to commit to joining an accelerator.

Since 2011, Cradle’s Coach and Grow Programme has helped to fill in this gap with long-term coaching. The idea came from a public-private partnership with Proficeo who conceptualised the programme.

“Back in 2011, mentoring programmes were not heard of as agencies provided ad-hoc training sessions with no way of measuring the impact or ROI of such sessions. Cradle’s CEO supported Proficeo’s desire to kick-start a paradigm shift,” shared Renuka Sena, CEO and Chief Explorer at Proficeo.

A few things about the programme:

  • It lasts about 12 months with 2 intakes in a year. For each intake, 50 companies are selected.
  • There are 2 parts to the programme. The first is a classroom session with 3 compulsory sessions within the first 3 months. The second is a monthly coaching session held at Cradle’s office throughout the year and participants are expected to attend a session at least once a month.
  • Recipients of other Cradle products can still apply. Cradle believes that companies should be able to mix and match their products to best suit them.

For a full list of eligible criteria, you can click here.

The participants are chosen through a set procedure, similar to Cradle’s other products. Once a candidate has been shortlisted, they are required to fill in a CGP application form. Only the highest scoring companies get to enroll into the program.

“Keep in mind that CGP does not only take in startups. We have both startups and scaleups, meaning even companies that are 15 years old have come into the programme and achieved success,” Renuka clarified.

Quote from Renuka.

Since its conception, a number of startups (366 to be exact) have gone on to pursue greater ambitions. Some of their more notable alumni include iPay88, Flexiroam, Touristly, Kakitangan, and Tableapp.

The main takeaway CGP gives to their participants is their coaching content that is developed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.

The programme is know to ditch pure theory in favour of practical and applicable execution strategies.

Quote from Jef Ong.

CGP has practiced customising coaching sessions to meet the needs of each individual company. Depending on which stage of growth they’re in, the coaches will focus on different areas to boost their business.

All the coaches handling the programme are entrepreneurs or industry experts who have walked the path before.

“We have sessions to train the coaches too. Our coaches are all either personally known to us or recommended by other coaches. We have workbooks and a software platform to assist the coaches perform their role and it is this structure that enables consistency,” said Renuka.

Image Credit: Cradle Fund Facebook

Aside from providing valuable insight, CGP helps enterprises build relationships within the ecosystem such as government agencies, funding agencies, and research institutions, while organising showcases dedicated towards business matching, market access, funding and industry networks.

Even after a participant has graduated, CGP tracks their progress for 12 to 24 months to monitor continued growth and they organise alumni sessions to stay up-to-date with their progress.

Renuka shared that 70 alumni have come back to coach, train and share their experiences with the new cohorts.

So what’s the ratio of success to failure?

  • 1/3 of companies double their revenues or more within 12 months.
  • The remaining number saw an increase in their revenues between 20% to 80% during the programme.
  • By the end of the programme, more than 2/3 of the participating teams completed a market-ready prototype and commenced revenue generation.

“As for the rest, we don’t consider them failures. They may decide to abandon the venture but with the tools learnt, many have started new ventures and been successful. Similarly there are many who pivot,” said Renuka.

Quote from Renuka.

A reason startups may be put off by the idea of mentoring is interference.

So CGP clarifies its role as a guide where companies set their own goals and the coaches set the overall performance KPI for each of them.

  • For Startups: The KPI is to have a market-ready prototype, complete their pilots and generate early revenues.
  • For Scaleups: They need to increase their revenue by at least 50% and those who are ready to export to enter into at least 1 new market and/or increase the percentage of their export revenues.
Quote from Renuka.

Participants in CGP cross a different journey because of varying factors like challenges and goals. So the coaches part here is helping them think through and plan activities as well as metrics to measure achievement of these goals and objectives.

“If this involves re-thinking the business model, then yes, both the coach and the company work towards this objective in the programme. The ultimate objective of CGP is to nurture scaleable companies with sustainable revenues and strong growth metrics for year-on-year growth,” said Renuka.

Another tricky part about mentoring Malaysian startups and SMEs is getting them to think bigger.

Confidence tends to be an issue because many of their beliefs or self-doubt is likely cultural.

“Many of them lack the confidence or belief that they can become regional or global players. They believe that they need to first conquer the Malaysian market,” said Renuka.

Talking about the ecosystem as a whole, she believes the biggest weakness lies in the lack of collaboration and relationships. The entrepreneurial journey can be a lonely one so CGP tackles this by allowing participants to build strong bonds of friendship and even form collaborative partnerships.

“They have peers to talk to about their challenges and often these relationships extend beyond the programme. Our alumni are also active and come back to share. This is the culture of CGP; to share and pay forward,” said Renuka.

The recent 4th intake for CGP has seen another 106 companies chosen to enroll for both sessions among the 307 that had pitched.

For more information or if you’d like to get in touch with Cradle personally, you can follow their page here and send them a direct message.

Feature Image Credit: Cradle Fund Facebook

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)