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Launch Founder Matchmaker

Mentors help guide Founders, using their expertise and business experience to provide helpful advice.

How it works:

  1. Contact: Entrepreneurs and founders connect with the program through small business counseling with the SBDC (Small Business Development Center), and BEDC BR&E (Business Retention & Expansion) Visits. (Could also be through LF Workshop events, the Co.Starters program, and other business/ entrepreneur events led by the Ecosystem).
  2. Foundation Building: Clients begin by consulting with SBDC business counselors to establish a solid understanding of fundamental business development and operational principles.
  3. Identifying Growth Areas: After establishing the basics, clients often identify specific areas they wish to develop further, whether it's related to general business management or industry-specific knowledge.
  4. Mentor-Mentee Matching Process: Launch Founder team to collaborate with both mentors and mentees to define specific needs and confirm expertise.
  5. Expectations for Launch Founder Mentors:
    • Experience and Expertise: Mentors should possess one or more of the following:
      • 2+ years of business ownership experience
      • Background in economics, business, accounting, or other related professional services
      • Expertise in a specific industry or field
      • Community leadership experience or holding an elected office
    • Familiarity with the Region: Ideally, mentors should be familiar with the region and the Brookings community.
    • Time Commitment: Mentors are expected to dedicate at least 4 hours per month to mentoring office hours. While in-person meetings are preferred, exceptions may be made for industry specialists or individuals who wish to contribute remotely.
    • Workshop Leadership: Mentors are required to lead at least one workshop or group session annually on an approved topic of their choosing.
    • Professional Development: Mentors must attend at least one facilitator, coaching, mentoring, or other relevant professional development training annually.
  1. Feedback Mechanism: Launch Founder Matchmaker representatives will conduct quarterly check-ins with both mentors and mentees to ensure continued value and satisfaction with the match.
  2. Program Evaluation: While program evaluation is not currently implemented, future plans may include developing metrics and KPIs to assess the program's effectiveness.
  3. Community Engagement: Mentors are required to lead at least one workshop annually that is open to all entrepreneurs interested in the topic, enhancing community engagement and knowledge-sharing.
  4. Continuous Improvement: Launch Founder Matchmaker will survey mentees annually for feedback and conduct annual meetings with mentors to collect feedback, brainstorm improvements, and offer professional development training tailored to mentoring skills.

Becoming a mentor after being a mentee: Mentees who excel in specific professional aspects may also have the opportunity to serve as mentors, contributing their expertise to others within the program.

Individual Match Process Overview:

  1. SBDC Business Counselor Consultation: SBDC business counselors provide entrepreneurs and founders with a foundation of business knowledge and standard operational practices.
  2. Identification of Specific Needs: Entrepreneurs or founders identify specific skill or business development needs that extend beyond the scope of SBDC business counseling.
  3. Questionnaire Completion: Entrepreneurs or founders complete a questionnaire provided by Launch Founder Matchmaker to outline their specific needs, preferences, and desired outcomes.
  4. Potential Match Identification: The Launch Founder team reviews the questionnaire responses and identifies potential mentorship matches based on expertise and compatibility.
  5. Introduction: The Launch Founder team facilitates introductions between mentors and mentees, providing an opportunity for both parties to connect and discuss potential mentorship arrangements.
  6. Setting Schedule and Expectations: Mentors and mentees collaborate to set a schedule for their mentorship meetings and establish expectations for the mentorship relationship. This may include defining the desired frequency of meetings and determining whether the mentorship will be for a specific duration or ongoing.
  7. Quarterly Check-ins: The Launch Founder team conducts quarterly check-ins with both mentors and mentees to ensure the success of the match and address any challenges or concerns that may arise.


Tim Weelborg (450)

Tim Weelborg

Dwaine Chapel (450)

Dwaine Chapel

Dan Rykhus (450)

Dan Rykhus

Bruce Haggar (450)

Bruce Haggar

Craig Arnold (450)

Craig Arnold

Tim Reed (450)

Tim Reed