Jeff Mann is semi retired and works as a specialist business startup mentor. He is currently mentoring EzSoil - one of the PowerUp Kickstart finalists, a collaboration between Venture Taranaki and Soda.

What is your area of expertise?

I prefer to work with B2B SAAS startup businesses from early to growth stage.

How did you get into business mentoring?  

I have started, failed and or succeeded with many companies over the last 25 years. After securing a good exit I ran a Lightning Lab Accelerator programme and through this, developed a coach the mentoring programme and co-developed an early-stage market development programme that focussed on supporting early stage startups.

Tell us about the business you’ve been mentoring through the PowerUp programme?

Two young guys at school have a product idea to help plant growing enthusiasts be better at growing plants. They had made some initial progress with their MVP (minimum viable product), but with little to no market validation, they were typically facing product market fit challenges.

What excites you about this business?

If they can nail the initial market validation, and competitor landscape, and later develop a unique product with progressive product market fit to assist plant growing enthusiasts to not only be better at growing plants, but to grow more of them, then that’s not a bad problem to solve.

How have you been able to improve their business?

I use a Socratic mentoring technique and assist the team to focus their attention entirely around an early adopter audience that shares similar problems along with looking at how others in the market currently solve similar problem/s.

What do you enjoy most about being a business mentor?

Shifting an entrepreneur’s thinking from building an MVP into fully understanding a future target audience specific need.

What or who inspires you?

People that remain laser focussed on solving complex issues whilst avoiding the hype or tall poppy effect of success e.g. Kaarel Kotkas.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

There are two types of advice worth following – 1) from domain experts on domain topics, and 2) from those that have failed or succeeded in similar ventures. All other advice is noise.

What three things can’t you live without?

Hahaha – coffee, tennis and good company!