Virgin StartUp mentoring in action - Stefano Tresca

Mentor Stefano Tresca has had an unconventional career path – starting out as a programmer before becoming a lawyer, and then focussing on the startup space. He has more than 15 years’ experience working with startups, managing projects as diverse as startups in India’s steel industry, or modern art in China. Now he is a partner in iSeed, a programme which nurtures startups in ways ranging from legal support to financial advice.

Becoming a Virgin StartUp mentor was a logical next step for someone so passionate about helping people start their own businesses. Stefano was also inspired by Richard Branson’s business books, learning practical information that went on to inform how he worked with other businesses and his own.

Stefano mentors Wesley Sanders, the head of Athena Tuition – a private tuition agency which aims to provide an exceptional quality of teaching to students, eschewing the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to learning for a tailored approach, bringing out the best in every pupil.

Wesley believes that one of the most positive outcomes of his mentoring experience so far has been the encouragement to “thin more like a startup and not a small business” – giving them the confidence to scale up and to take risks that have paid off. As Wesley’s first venture, Stefano’s experience is perfect, complementing Wesley’s skills with solid, long-standing business knowledge.

Mentoring: how it works

Providing you with the funding to get started is a massive step forward for your business. But Virgin StartUp also offer something just as crucial; an unparalleled free mentoring programme, which matches you with experienced businesspeople who support and guide you on your startup journey.

Mentoring is important, because your mentors have been in your shoes before. They’ve been at your stage, made mistakes, and lived to tell the tale. Having someone with so much experience on your side can help you steer away from the mistakes they made, and helps lay a really solid foundation for your whole business. Not to mention, it’s invaluable in terms of helping you forge contacts that will come in useful for potentially your entire career.

When you sign up to the StartUp programme, you’re asked questions which are then used to match you up – using futuristic software based on dating website algorithms – to your ideal mentor. This way you’re matched with someone whose strengths complement the areas that you’re not so strong on, helping you to become an all-round business superstar.