Mentor Code of Conduct

Our success will be measured by:

  • Number of quality ventures (especially tech-oriented and scalable ventures) created annually
  • Number of students who hold equity in a start-up by graduation
  • Business ethics practiced by mentoring and student teams
  • Business and personal relationships formed through the mentoring process
  • Favorable recognition of successful student–led entrepreneurial ventures, BYU, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • BYU students, Founders, and other Latter-day Saints involved in business combining their unique talents, gifts, and skills for the “benefit of the whole people, to uplift the masses, to rescue them from their poverty.” (George Q. Cannon, 1882 General Conference).

Taylor Halverson, Ph.D. is the mentoring coordinator. You can contact him at taylor.halverson@byu.edu

  • Read and accept the Mentor’s Code of Conduct.
  • Hold regular meetings with your team that are conducted strictly at your convenience.
    • In this meeting you will hold your team to account for weekly progress.
    • Provide mentoring insights and suggestions designed to help the team advance.
    • the idea is to help the team make “first downs” each week so that by the time you are done they will hopefully be in an “investable” position.
    • Introduce them to “content experts” as needed (we can help you with that if you will notify us of the need and timing).
  • It is important to note that this assignment is voluntary and without compensation. 
    • Accordingly, you should not seek advisory shares or any other type of compensation from the company/student team you are mentoring. 
    • Should you desire to invest in the venture/team you’re mentoring, we ask that a third party from the Rollins Center evaluate the offer, prior to formalization, in order to avoid any potential conflicts down the road. 
    • Finally, we remind you that student ideas cannot be copied or become the impetus to start a competing venture. We’re striving to create an environment of trust that will lead to the BYU program being the finest in the country.
  • Be successful in a venture of your own for several years or have experience launching new ventures within an organization.
  • Schedule and be willing to donate one hour a week when called upon.
  • Confidentiality must be maintained. Students are concerned about idea theft.
  • Be direct without offending and coach without criticizing.
  • Remember that these are students, and they do not have the life experience that you do.
  • Create a professional mentoring profile in the mentoring system PeopleGrove.

Contact Taylor Halverson taylor.halverson@byu.edu with any mentoring questions.

Be familiar with these Entrepreneurship education resources.

  • Conduct will be consistent with the standards of honesty and integrity established by Brigham Young University and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Unethical behavior includes:
    • Any form of harassment, including denigrating comments based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, ethnicity, disability, or age
    • Plagiarism in any form
    • Failure to identify direct quotations or ideas obtained from other writers or sources
    • Unauthorized sharing of proprietary information developed by team members, or vice versa
    • Unauthorized use of product ideas, business plans, or other information developed by team members for personal or professional gain
  • Care will be taken to avoid any situation that could create an appearance of impropriety between personal, professional, or community responsibilities and mentoring activities.
  • Any potential conflict of interest will be promptly disclosed to team members and the managing director of the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship.
  • Mentoring assignments will be changed as needed to remedy potential conflicts of interest.
  • A professional relationship between mentors and students must be maintained at all times.
  • Proper business etiquette should be practiced.
  • Mentors and students must meet in open areas. In the case of a conference or office, the room must have windows in public view and or have more than one mentor or student present.
  • Mentors are not permitted to invite the student to their homes, recreational properties, recreational events, or any other event not connected with a professional relationship. Any such verbal or written invitation or actual act that violates this code is grounds for immediate dismissal from the mentoring program.
  • Mentors are specifically prohibited from using any BYU, PeopleGrove, or Rollins Center to proactively look for new mentoring, business, or investment opportunities.
  • Students are to contact mentors and schedule via the PeopleGrove mentoring system
    • Even in an ongoing professional relationship, please remind students to schedule with you through the system so that we can track the effectiveness of the program.
  • Team meetings may be held via video conference, phone, your place of business, or at BYU’s Provo campus.
  • Mentors must keep a simple yet professional log of students they mentor, including dates, the number of hours spent, locations, student emails, and topics.
  • Submit a brief monthly report of your mentoring efforts (the mentoring coordinator will send you a survey each month).

Mentors are offering their time, experience, and business advice on a strictly voluntary basis. It is the students’ sole discretion to use or not to use the advice given, and as such, neither mentors nor BYU have any liability and are held harmless for students’ ultimate business decisions.

Mentors primarily provide advisory support for student teams. If mentors invest in any student venture, they must disclose their interest prior to investment. Submit this disclosure to Jeff Brown jeff.brown@byu.edu.

The Rollins Center uses an online software platform PeopleGrove to facilitate and track the mentoring process. PeopleGrove provides the following features:

  • Professional Profile
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Q&A forum

These are sample business questions that mentors may consider asking during their mentoring sessions to help ensure that students are prepared to compete in collegiate events and to launch a business. (These questions are based on lean startup principles, see Entrepreneurship Education Resources.)

  • What is the pain?
    • What is validated pain that is being solved?
    • For whom is this a pain?
    • How significant is this pain?
    • How has this pain been validated?
  • Value proposition
    • What is the company’s value proposition?
    • What is the company’s solution?
    • Why are the products attractive to customers?
    • What problem is being solved by the products in the marketplace?
  • Customer segment
    • For whom are we creating value?
    • What validation do you have from customers?
    • Is this a niche, mass market, or segment?
  • Research
    • What research have you done?
    • What sources did you use?
    • How thorough is the research you have performed?
  • Market potential
    • What is the product’s positioning within the market?
    • What is the market size and realistic prospective growth potential?
    • What are the market trends that are being leveraged?
    • What other possible applications are there for the products?
  • Barriers to entry and status of intellectual property protection
    • What are your barriers to entry by competitors?
    • What assurances can you give investors that the value of your technology, product or service will be protected?
    • Has your company secured or applied for patents or trademarks?
    • What trade secrets do you have that differentiate your product or service from competitors?
  • Key activities
    • Using lean startup principles, what essential activities are required to fill your value proposition?
  • Key partners
    • Who are the company’s strategic partners?
    • How is the company creating a win-win relationship with its strategic partners?
    • How do the relationships benefit the company’s market-entry strategy and ongoing efforts?
  • Key channels
    • How are current customers reached?
    • How do you propose to reach them?
    • Is there an initial or optimal channel?
    • Which is the most cost effective?
    • How many channels exist, and, over time, are these channels all viable?
  • Key resources
    • What are the most important resources you need to service your value proposition?
    • How will you distribute your product?
    • What are the human factors in your business plan?
    • How will you develop product manufacturing and development?
    • What is your expected capital?
    • How would you define your relationship with customers?
    • How will you organize your sales force?
  • Key competitors
    • Who are your key competitors?
    • How are your competitors’ products or services different from yours?
    • What strategies do you have to beat the competition?
  • Cost structure
    • What are the most important costs?
    • Which are the most expensive resources?
    • Which key activities are most expensive?
  • Market entry strategy
    • What is the sales and marketing plan?
    • What is the product rollout strategy?
    • Who are the initial target customers and what is the status of the initial sales?
    • How have customers accepted the products and services?
    • How will you increase sales?
  • Revenue and pricing model
    • What is the revenue model? (e.g. cost savings sharing, high volume/small margin; small volume/high margin; retail outlets vs. website; low cost hardware/high-cost replacement parts, etc.)
    • Have you tested and validated your pricing model through potential customers?
    • What are projected revenues over the 1, 3, and 5 years?
    • What are the critical assumptions for the projected revenues?
    • What is the allocation of expenses over time?
    • What are the expected margins of the business?
    • How will they change over time?
    • When will the company become cash flow positive (i.e. EBITDA) and profitable (NPAT)?
    • What are the funding assumptions for the business?
  • Revenue streams
    • What do customers currently pay?
    • How are they paying for your product?
    • How would they prefer to pay?
    • What are your potential revenue streams?
    • How much does each revenue stream contribute to overall revenue and profit margins?
  • Initial investors and key employees
    • What is the personal business background of the initial investors and key employees?
    • What specific expertise do they have in the industry domain of their product?
    • Who else will be brought into the team?
    • Why are they passionate about the product?
    • What management changes will be needed to scale the company if the start-up is successful?
  • Details of the investment opportunity
    • How much money is required to launch the company?
    • Using the principles of the lean start-up, what is your forecasted timeline for the company’s financings?
    • What are current stock ownership percentages (e.g. founder’s stock, BYU allocation, friends and family, etc.)?
    • What is the company’s pre-money valuation?
    • What percentage of the company will investors receive?
  • Use of funds
    • What is the use of funds (i.e. sales and marketing, salaries, equipment, leases, etc.)?
    • What benchmarks will be achieved with the funds?
    • How are these expenditures tied to scaling the business?
  • Exit strategies
    • How will investors profit from your company?
    • Who are possible acquirers of the company?
    • Is an IPO a viable option?
    • What is the estimated return to investors, and when will they receive it?
  • Resources needed beyond capital
    • What resources does the company need beyond just capital?
  • Key elements of successful presentations
    • Avoid giving too much information (move extra info to appendices).
    • Make the pitch simple and easily digestible.
    • Show the rationale of your strategic thinking.
    • Create confidence in your plan for execution.
    • Clearly present the path towards an exit.
    • Focus on delivering an upbeat and dynamic business opportunity which captures investor (and client) imagination.
  • Intangible benefits
    • What are the social, environmental, and economic benefits for constituents, clients, suppliers, employees, shareholders, and communities where the company operates?
  • Management framework
    • Has the team defined its vision, mission, values, and purpose?
    • Has the team chosen the right members for the business?

What Is Your Mentoring Persona?

Consider what mentor description best fits you and use the ideas from that persona to guide your mentoring activities.

  • Lead -mentor
    • The lead mentor may be
      • A generalist; 
      • Life coach; 
      • Executive coach; 
      • Networking coach; 
      • Or guide to learning resources
    • The lead mentor will
      • Have Broad high-level mentoring focused on helping the student entrepreneur understand the full journey and navigate that road from idea to business model to launch to scale. 
      • stay engaged for a longer period of time with a team, likely months… perhaps years. 
      • likely not be the domain subject matter expert in all areas, but will help the entrepreneur find other mentors and advisors in other areas as needed. 
      • help motivate, encourage, support forward progress, and help provide some external accountability through regular check-ins and structured reporting. 
    • Goals of this form of mentoring
      • Inspire entrepreneurial students to reach their potential and encourage them to do their best.
      • Reinforce governing principles that are the foundation of successful enterprises.
      • Help entrepreneurial students mature as managers and leaders.
      • Monitor pivot points to ensure incremental improvement and objective decision-making.
      • Ensure that student entrepreneurs adhere to lean business model development and customer validation principles.
      • Ensure that entrepreneurial teams report on milestone achievements. You can use My Roadmap software to track milestones.
      • Provide constructive feedback to entrepreneurial students as they prepare for competitions.
      • Insist on a board room-quality, game-changing final product.
      • Support entrepreneurial students as they identify ways to grow the culture of their budding enterprise, specifically in regards to who they add to their team.
  • The business model expert mentor
    • This mentor may be
      • An industry expert
      • Lifestyle businesses expert
    • The business model expert mentor
      • Is like a master guide, but has prior experience with the same business model or in a related industry to what the entrepreneur is pursuing. 
      • Could participate in longer term engagement, but more focused with an emphasis on the key questions, assumptions, and tasks needed to keep the business moving forward. 
      • This type of mentoring may have a higher perceived risk of conflicts of interest, so the mentor needs to be selective and approach these in a way that there is not a potential for direct competition.
      • Helps the entrepreneur at a strategic, high-level, as a bit of a co-CEO or co-Founder so the student can successfully structure their business, build a solution, identify specific product/market fit, and build, operate, and grow the specific business, which could be 
        • a part-time endeavor such as a photography or freelance design or craft business, 
        • full-time self-employment approach like consulting, wedding planning, product design and sales (Amazon). 
        • lifestyle or small-business (with potential to scale) like franchises, restaurants, retail, etc. 
        • scalable growth potential businesses like SaaS startups, consumer product companies, etc.
    • Goals of this form of mentoring
      • Inspire entrepreneurial students to reach their potential and encourage them to do their best.
      • Reinforce governing principles that are the foundation of successful enterprises.
      • Help entrepreneurial students mature as managers and leaders.
      • Ensure that entrepreneurial teams report on milestone achievements. You can use My Roadmap software to track milestones.
      • Insist on a board room-quality, game-changing final product.
      • Support entrepreneurial students as they identify ways to grow the culture of their budding enterprise, specifically in regards to who they add to their team.
  • The domain/functional expert (SME) mentor
    • Helps entrepreneurs develop the skills themselves or identify others they can work with to address these needs. 
    • Is sought about by student entrepreneurs to get targeted help that is narrow, but likely quite deep. 
    • Typical participates in shorter term engagements, ranging from one conversation to a few discussions over weeks. 
    • Knows a critical functional area well, could be
      • legal, 
      • intellectual property, 
      • digital marketing, 
      • design, 
      • branding, 
      • sales, 
      • human resources & hiring, 
      • pitching/fundraising, 
      • accounting/finance, 
      • product development, 
      • engineering, 
      • manufacturing, 
      • logistics, 
      • import/export, 
      • Etc. 
    • Goals of this form of mentoring
      • Inspire entrepreneurial students to reach their potential and encourage them to do their best.
      • Reinforce governing principles that are the foundation of successful enterprises.
      • Help entrepreneurial students mature as managers and leaders.
      • Monitor pivot points to ensure incremental improvement and objective decision-making.