As an early stage startup, getting the right mentorship can be a critical factor between success and failure. With 70 percent of mentored startups surviving longer than five years — double the survival rate of those with no mentor — there’s no doubt that finding an advisor early on will amplify your chance of future success.
So, we get that mentorship is crucial to success, but where do you find the perfect mentor in the competitive tech world? Fortunately for our resident startups here at TQ, the answer is Google’s Startup Advisors Program.
Startup Advisors is a 12-week Google for Startups mentorship program pairing high-potential startups with hand-picked Google mentors to work on specific goals. To make sure there’s an optimal match, startups are required to set three Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) — a widely used framework for setting and tracking goals.
We caught up with the residents and mentors involved to hear all about their journeys. Here are some of the impressive results achieved to give you a glimpse of what to expect from future editions:
1. Website conversions skyrocketed
For Creative Fabrica — an online marketplace for fonts and graphics — marketing was its primary focus. With OKRs set around scaling advertising, growing paid users, and increasing conversions, Google considered Analytical Consultant, Sanchit Aneja, to be the perfect mentor to match.
As Roemie Hillenaar, Creative Fabrica’s cofounder described, “The result we were most excited about was substantially increasing our website’s conversion rate. Customers used to visit our free gifts page and leave after downloading a freebie, but now we get them in the sales funnel and make them aware of our subscription plans — our bounce rate has now halved and visitor value has increased by 67 percent!”
And it’s not just one Google advisor startups get to work with. As Sanchit explained, “It was a pleasure putting Roemie in touch with my colleagues Luuk Kapetiejns to help launch Shopping Ads, and Raisa Cuevas who assisted with UX/Mobile improvements.”
Roemie agreed: “It was really insightful to work with these specialists. The main lesson we learned was it’s crucial to make informed choices based on data and that it really brings great results.”
2. Boosted product value for users
Hyko educates kids about energy consumption and climate change with a polar bear smart lamp and app. With a launch date fast-approaching, founder Andriy Shmyhelskyy set OKRs around lead generation and increasing product value.
After working closely with mentor and Cloud Consultant, Jeroen Schweitzer, Andriy decided there was more work to be done on the development side before the product was ready for launch.
Together, we worked on a product roadmap which was very helpful when it came to deciding my priorities and a timeline.
While this decision did put two OKRs on the backburner, Andriy now has more clarity about how to improve his product to make it even more valuable for users. “There was a really good dynamic with Jeroen and we could bounce ideas off of each other easily,” explained Andriy. “Together, we worked on a product roadmap which was very helpful when it came to deciding my priorities and a timeline.”
Jeroen was equally as pleased to work with Andriy. “We had many constructive sessions and I’ve been able to serve as a sparring partner to Andriy who needed a voice that wasn’t part of the day-to-day rapids a startup needs to navigate.”
3. Took a step back and thought about strategy
Katalysis uses blockchain to change the way we access, distribute, and pay for online content. While it took the startup longer than expected to set OKRs realistic enough to tackle in 12 weeks, once they were set, they did not disappoint.
Their main focus was launching a Wordpress plugin, Feather, and to work on their brand strategy. The plugin was launched successfully and is now being used by 20+ sites. And in terms of strategy, cofounder Eveline Klumpers was very satisfied with their progress. “It was super helpful to take a step back and think more about strategy with an experienced mentor from Google,” she explained. “It’s now much easier to explain our product to clients.”
Eveline also spoke highly of the program’s mid-term check-in event. In a format similar to speed-dating, startups got to spend some time chatting with each other’s advisors. As she explained, “Each mentor approached our product from a different angle. It was incredibly useful to hear all those diverse opinions and feedback.”
4. Made some seriously meaningful connections
For Ticketless, an AI-driven Customer Success virtual assistant, the process looked a little different. Cofounder Dominik Blattner decided to continue working with OKRs his team had already set prior to the program, even though they weren’t achievable within the 12 weeks.
“For us, it wasn’t about hitting the targets as much as it was a technology fit,” explained Dominik. “Ticketless uses a lot of the Google technology stack so I really wanted to make connections with the people behind it. For example, I did a workshop on Google Data Studio, which is a product I want to work with in the future.”
The mentorship aspect was also really important to Dominik. “Mentorship helped us to keep focused. You have weekly check-ins with someone from the outside which puts pressure on you to deliver. After all, you don’t want to sit through the meeting with nothing to show.”
Product Manager and mentor, Joost van Hoof also took a lot out of the experience. “Seeing someone build a business makes it crystal clear what elements are key and which are background noise. You can translate these insights into your own work and thinking.”
5. Generated qualified leads and signed new clients
For StoreDNA, a startup working on a decision-making software platform for stores, it was all about generating new, qualified leads. They entered the mentorship program hoping to sign two new clients and they were spot on at achieving their goals.
One of the main factors contributing to their success was getting the opportunity to speak on stage at the Google Cloud Summit Amsterdam in front of 300 people together with their mentor, Michiel Vanthoor. Not only did this experience generate leads, but it also provided some great social media exposure.
Redesigning their landing page also helped with lead generation. “After implementing the advice we received from Google’s UX expert, Giovanni Simonetti we had a 70 percent increase in session duration on our website, and our goal was only 10 percent!” explained StoreDNA’s CTO, Igor Pejic.
Why join Google’s Startup Advisors Program?
For Igor, the benefits of the program were clear: “As a startup, you’re competing against big companies and you’re on your own. But thanks to the program you get the resources and the mentorship of a giant corporation which is a real boost for business development.”
All of the participating startups shared this sentiment. And even though not all OKRs were achieved in 12 weeks, the hard results weren’t what made Startup Advisors an invaluable experience. It was the support, mentorship, networking opportunities, and abundant resources that set our residents up for success.
Want to join programs like Startup Advisors, tailor-made to help you grow? Make sure to apply for residency, and if accepted, we’ll help you build an exceptional company faster than you would’ve alone.