Mike: I moved to Dallas in 1989 and started building internet companies in late ’93 or early ’94, so it was a very long time ago. I dropped out of high school twice and I never went to college. So, subsequently I never had a network. I never knew who to ask questions of and never had anyone as a “go-to” person. I know that there are people out there like that today. People that want to go create something and are doing it, but don’t have anybody around to talk to. I want to bring that help, advice and wisdom back to the table.
What was it like working with your VentureSpur startup?
Mike: Well, I hit it off with those guys early on because they are trying to change the way that education is approached and that is something that is very near and dear to my heart. Having such a unique educational career, anything that innovates in that space is wonderful. We had some offline talks about basic life philosophy and just really hit it off with the team.
Mike: One of the things that we talked about was refactoring [software code] versus continuing to build with what you have. One of the lessons that I learned going through an accelerator with my company was refactoring, depending on the situation, can be a bear. That, with the technical talent and their overall goal, was one of the most interesting parts of the discussion with them.
What was the most meaningful part of the mentorship experience for you this year?
Mike: Seeing the team grow. I know early on they had some questions about business models and technical challenges. Seeing them overcome those was really phenomenal. Seeing that team succeed and be able to present confidently at Pitch Day was great.
Where do you think you had the biggest impact during the mentorship?
Mike: Probably from a technical side. My background is in [software] development. I’ve been writing code for eighteen years and it’s been a wonderful journey. But I’ve learned a lot through those years and being able to talk to them about the technical side of their product was phenomenal.
What would tell a new mentor about mentorship?
Mike: Listen. Listen a lot. Use your experience to find similarities in the things you’ve been through to help the teams. The cool thing about being a mentor is that you’ve done it once yourself, you’ve learned from that and you may be able to pass on things that you’ve learned over the years. It may not be exactly what you did, but you may know a better way to do it now.
What would you tell prospective mentors?
Mike: You have an opportunity to step in and help teams and help people that are trying to build something, maybe from scratch, and it may be their first time. You actually can jump in and have an impact directly on that product and those people and see something grow out of that.
To read more on Michael Sitarzewski, visit his bio!