Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing mentor Mike Whitaker, CEO of Idea Gateway.  Mike offers some answers and advice regarding his experience as an entrepreneur.  Check out his interview below.

Learn more about Mike Whitaker on our mentor page!

What was the most important thing a mentor ever did for you?

Punch me in the nose (figuratively) and chastise my “Ready-Fire-Aim” tendencies.  My mentors hit me with reality and encouraged me to check myself and my preparedness.

What do you think an accelerator can do for Oklahoma?

I drive around the state and see innovation everywhere…in small doses.  An accelerator can grow these small instances into more significant successes for Oklahoma.

What do you think a mentor can do for a startup? How can a mentor help?

A mentor is going to be a field guide who knows where the pitfalls are; who has made mistakes and who has lost money.  They’re going to save a startup time, money and frustration by preventing the mistakes that most people make early in their careers.

What kind of technologies and companies do you currently find interesting?

Let me begin by saying there is nothing more comforting than to find an old-school manufacturing and service business that does not require much technology.  Those are some of the best investments over time and shouldn’t be forgotten as we are all rushing to develop the next iPhone app.  I would choose the non-tech companies first because they have a greater likelihood of success and have less “unknowns.”  An accelerator isn’t always about tech.

As far as what technologies interest me now, I would say I like voice-recognition technologies and speed-learning technologies.  I appreciate different ways to teach people apart from the traditional methods of the classroom.  I also like technologies that are finding ways to show businesses real-time data about how they operate; like a looking-glass that can instantly measure things like social-media satisfaction.  This way, a business does not have to wait until the end of the week or month to see how they are performing.

What is the most important part of a company’s application when applying to an accelerator?

That their business plan does not rely on a bunch of assumptions that cannot be proven today.  There can only be a little bit of blue-sky thinking but the rest has to be based upon reality and good research.