VentureSpur Mentor Rod Whitson, President of Bank2, is an expert in the fields of marketing, branding and positioning.  In his interview, Rod tells us how a mentor can help provide opportunities for new businesses through key introductions.

Read the full interview below.  To learn more about Rod Whitson, visit the mentor page here!

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

One of my most important mentors, Bud Emerson, taught me how to read a room – how to really understand group dynamics.   He used to say participation produces energy.  So, when the room goes flat, find a way to get the group talking.   He also said that adults don’t learn by listening – they learn by talking.

What do you think an accelerator can do for Oklahoma?  

Mistakes, failures and learning are all part of a successful startup – it’s just part of the process.  But so many things that cost startups time and money are preventable and avoidable.   If you can side step many of those, everything speeds up and success comes much sooner.

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

There are really two things a mentor can help.   First, if they have a wealth of relevant experience, they can help see the preventable and avoidable as mentioned above.   Second, they can leverage their relationships and make introductions.  The right introductions can save the startup much time, money and energy.  Plus using mentors as a success pattern is an age old concept.   The Book of Proverbs says “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

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

Financial services is ripe with opportunity even though there is a high degree of uncertainty and complexity right now.   The Internet is completely disrupting the incumbent financial institutions.  Look at Google Wallet, Mint, Square and Yodlee just to name a very few.

What is the most important part of a company’s application when applying to an accelerator?  It’s always about the idea and the passion of the people behind the idea.   Show me those, and I’m confident that many obstacles can be overcome.