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How to Become a Startup Advisor

The question that I hear most often is, “How do I become a startup advisor?”

I love to help startups in any way I can, and I love it when others want to help startups as well. But it takes commitment and hard work to become a startup advisor who can make a difference.

My time at Dyn, which played a major role in the startup revolution, taught me so many lessons that fueled my desire to help more startups in the future.  My colleagues on the York IE leadership team and I have personally invested in startup advising from the earliest days of our careers — as mentors, nonprofit board members, and angel investors. Our work as angels is what laid the foundation for York IE, and those experiences crafted York IE’s vision of building good companies, not fast exits.

How do we do it? And how can you do it too? Here are the six most important things to do if you want to become a startup advisor:

  • Be the hardest worker in the room.
  • Be the most prepared person in the room.
  • Be honest, passionate, and persistent.
  • Become an expert in your market and function.
  • Accomplish something and be successful.
  • Immerse yourself in startups.

Being a startup advisor is not about taking a backseat or sitting on a board.  The best advisors should want skin in the game. You can’t just be an advisor and not do the hard work, which, honestly, is the most rewarding part.

Here are five ways to actually help startups as an advisor:

  • Mentor some founders with no strings attached.
  • Write a few angel checks to get skin in the game.
  • Be available, accessible, and empathetic.
  • Actively listen to your startups and share your function/market expertise.
  • Be willing to open up your network.

If you’re an entrepreneur ally, an operator helping an operator, startup advisor gigs (for equity) will come.

Follow along on Twitter for more advice on startup advising!

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