Mentor of the Month: David Wilkin

Our Virgin StartUp mentors are an amazing bunch, giving up their time and expertise to support new businesses. They're invaluable when it comes to helping our businesses succeed, and we massively appreciate the contribution they make to Virgin StartUp. This month's startup-nominated Mentor of the Month is David Wilkin - we asked him a few questions in order to find out more about him and his work.

What’s your current business?

Currently I am semi-retired and do not have a company as such, although I do currently assist a number of different companies from manufacturing to education and social care in an advisory/mentoring role. One of my main roles is as Non Exec chair of a company limited by guarantee with charitable status who support around 800 adults with learning disabilities in and around the UK. The company is Real Life Options.

What’s your specialist area of business?

Leadership, making decisions, people, assessing risk, sales & marketing and generally creating an environment for people to achieve their full potential and more.

Sum up your attitude to business in one word


How do you make sure you achieve your daily goals?

When you wake up on a morning you know you have goals, and if you achieve them when you go to bed on a night you know it was a fantastic day and look forward to the next day.

What tech can’t you live without?

Reading glasses!! Without them I can’t read all the information on the screens of my phone, tablet and laptop.

What book/magazine/blog would you recommend people to read and why?

Asimov Foundation trilogy. I first read this book many years ago and it was pure science fiction. Having lived a full life, the science of ‘psychohistory-conditions arranged to bring about a series of crises forcing the foundation to move rapidly along a route to a future empire’ is I now believe more science fact aligned to real life, and about seizing every opportunity. There are no problems, only opportunities to excel and rapidly move along a route to a future!

I also recommend The Week - a fast and easy way to keep abreast of the worlds weekly news, developments, business, people and opinions.

I wouldn’t say there was any specific blog I regularly read, although I do keep an eye on posts on Linkedin.

Why do you love being a VSU mentor?

It’s fantastic to be associated with such enthusiastic, exciting, passionate people who have some great ideas and a will to succeed. It gives me challenge, keeps me exposed to real life, and makes me feel excited about our future. The mentees are our future, and being there for them to access in a way they need is my way of helping secure a future for us all.

What’s the best startup advice you have received?

Don’t be frightened of risk, don’t be frightened to mitigate the risk,  and don’t be frightened to go for it.

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