Diving head first into a new career can be scary, but with the right connections and support, there’s no telling where you can go. Meet Sumeet Shah, our newest mentor in residence in New York. Sumeet joins us from Brand Foundry Ventures, a venture capital firm dedicated to accelerating the growth of emerging consumer-focused brands. He’s been a passionate resource for our students for a long-time now—connecting them to new job opportunities and teaching about early-stage financing in his Intro to Venture Capital session.
We were thrilled when Sumeet accepted our offer to join the team. As Mentor in Residence, Sumeet will offer one-on-one career mentorship with Startup Institute students each week to develop pipelines and action plans for their job searches. According to NYC program manager John Lynn,
Sumeet Shah is a hyper-connector—someone who is constantly building awareness of the needs of others, and actively helping them to solve their problems. He’s an incredible resource to have on your side because of the relationships he’s built. I’m confident he’ll add strength to both our instructor roster and to developing and guiding opportunities for the students.
We caught up with Sumeet to hear his thoughts about his new role:[bctt tweet=".@PE_Feeds is a hyper-connector + is constantly trying to help others, says @jmlynn7"]
Q: What will you do as a mentor in residence at Startup Institute New York?
A: My role will be to work with students on a day-to-day basis, to understand what their goals are and what they’re looking to build out as they go through the program.
These people are are coming from different walks of life. They are coming from different sectors and different organizations, and they may have never had the opportunity to work in tech. From an outsider’s perspective, this can be a daunting space because it’s got this “flavor-of-the-month” feel to it, where everyone is trying to build something great and everyone is trying to disrupt some sector. This can seem intimidating for someone completely new to the game.
The ultimate goal of a mentor in residence is to be that guiding hand for the students throughout the program. If these students need any advice along the way, they’ll know they can turn to. Having been in this industry for the past two years, my ultimate goal as mentor in residence is to make everyone feel comfortable and excited to be in this new world.
[bctt tweet="My ultimate goal is to make people feel comfortable + excited to join the tech world, says @PE_Feeds"]
Q: How did you initially get involved with Startup Institute?
A: This goes full circle. I first learned about Startup Institute from Brand Foundry’s investment in Nineteenth Amendment. The fashion tech company was founded by Amanda Curtis and Gemma Sole, who met during their time at Startup Institute. In fact, they were featured at New York Fashion Week at Macy’s in Herald Square this week, which was a great stepping stone.
I started working with [program director] Shaun Johnson and [program manager] John Lynn. The more I got involved, the more I realized—this isn’t your typical program. This is talent—talent that wants to get involved. I started teaching a class and one thing lead to another, and here we are. [bctt tweet="The more I got involved, the more I realized—this isn't your typical program—@PE_Feeds"]
Q: What is exciting about being a mentor in residence?
A: The most exciting thing is the opportunity to watch the students grow and to see that people have fun in this industry.
Many business sectors hold true to the saying “eat or be eaten”. The innovation sector is different. There’s a strong desire to make people feel happy. The hustle and craziness and unpredictability can make people feel nervous about jumping at first. Honestly, if you’re a student in this program, you should have fun with it. It’s so important to loosen up in order to expand you network and extend your thinking. Outside of the tech sector, are few other industries in which you can dig deep, innovate, and create something from the ground up. It is amazing opportunity. And, it’s rare.
I want to be a catalyst to help these students get excited about what they are doing. I can only imagine where they’re going to go from here. If I can be that catalysts for their careers—for their futures—that’s extremely important for me. I call that a win.[bctt tweet="If I can be a catalysts for people's careers, I call that a win, says @PE_Feeds #mentorship"]
Q: How do you think your background, and your work at Brand Foundry will play into this career mentorship role?
A: Having connections in the VC industry is going to be helpful because venture capitalists are always looking for great, hungry talent to join their portfolio companies.
My network is going to be extremely useful to the Startup Institute students. Everyone knows the CEO and the founders, but why not bring the Head of Product in to work with the students? My contacts and my networks in the VC space can help identify people to teach students that on top of the excitement and innovation, there is structure. There are a lot of awesome things happening internally that the public doesn’t always see.
If you think about how much mainstream media covers emerging tech companies, they predominantly talk about the successes and the failures. Why not use the Brand Foundry network to give these students a deeper sense of the inner workings of these companies.[bctt tweet="The @BrandFoundryVC network can give students a deeper sense of the tech sector, says @PE_Feeds"]
Q: How will your advice to your portfolio companies differ from your advice to people launching new careers?
A: The people at Startup Institute are people who are just getting into tech. It’s so important for them to explore. My job is to make sure they are on the right track to finding the right career fit. The questions are—How can I guide these students to an area that makes the most sense for them? How can I help them find clarity on what they want to do and what opportunities are available to them?
Not everyone has been lucky enough to know exactly what sector they want to go into, and that’s totally fine. I would be shocked if I found out every single spring cohort student knew exactly where they wanted to go.
Q: What is the best career advice you’ve received?
A: I’ve gotten so much great advice over the years. I’d probably say the best advice was to never stop being hungry. If you lose the passion—if you lose that drive for what you’re working on—you’re never going to be productive enough to reach your goals. If you’re not passionate, your job will feel like a chore. You just need to spend the time and build out what you want to pursue. And if you can find your passion in the tech industry, you have the opportunity to make a good amount of money doing it. But, you cannot stop being hungry.[bctt tweet="The best career advice I ever received? Stay hungry, says @PE_Feeds #hustle"]
Q: What’s unique about the NYC tech scene?
A: Oh man! Honestly, the New York scene is very much like freshman year of college. You remember that first day: everyone is moving in, and running around, and nobody knows anyone, and their all introducing themselves to each other and just trying to help each other out. This is what it’s like in New York tech right now, and everyone wants to be involved.[bctt tweet="The #NYCTech scene feels like freshman year of college, says @PE_Feeds"]
Going out and exploring the scene continues to be exciting for me. Who is stopping you from being excited about what you want to do?
The sky isn’t even the limit! There’s no limit whatsoever. That’s what makes it so great.
Q: Are there any events in the New York tech scene that you recommend to our students?
A: There are two big ones that I always recommend. The granddaddy of them all is Techmeetup. You have thousands of people tuning in each month and it’s a great opportunity to get started and learn what’s going on. There’s also TechBreakfast, which is smaller and more intimate.
Then, one of my biggest pieces of advice is to go on a MeetUp binge. Go to Meetup.com and type in the sectors that you really want to focus on and sign up for a bunch of stuff. There is zero obligation—no one is requiring you to show up to everything you sign up for. Just build a calendar of things that you want to go see and check out. You’ll find a lot of events and awesome things happening. You’ll never know who you’re going to meet at one of these events because everyone is learning and getting involved.
Q: One more question—what do you think are the qualities of a great mentor?
A: I haven’t had one person as a mentor, but I’ve had a lot of amazing people who have helped guide me.
A good mentor understands where you want to go, and has ideas for the kinds of career paths you should explore. And, this mentor will continue to think about this path, including specific connections and opportunities that you should pursue. It’s that vision and constant thinking about the mentee that constitutes a good mentor.
This industry continues to get more and more exciting. There are some phenomenal founders out there who are always willing to turn around and help others. We have a great opportunity to continue to build on that kind of mentality, starting at Startup Institute. It’s one of the gears in the system that will cultivate this. There is a safe space for people to learn. I’m excited to be helpful, and especially to build this industry into a better place. I know that the sky's the limit.[bctt tweet="We have a great opportunity to build this pay-it-forward mentality in #NYCTech, says @PE_Feeds"]
Q: The sky’s not the limit!
A: That’s right—the sky’s not the limit.
Please join us in welcoming Sumeet Shah, our new mentor in residence, below in the comment section.[bctt tweet=".@PE_Feeds of @BrandFoundryVC has joined @StartupInst NYC as a #Mentor in Residence" via="no"]
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