At what point in Devi’s journey did you join her? What was she struggling with the most?
I started mentoring Devi 1.5 years ago. She had been mentored by two other people from Villgro prior to me. Devi was a passionate individual who cared about how her products impacted the farmers.. Being a young business, there were many opportunities for mentoring – products, markets, go to market strategy, and how to make it profitable.
How did you help her?
For me, there are two key attributes that an incubatee should have- one, trust in the mentor, and two, the ability to listen and learn from mistakes. Devi has both these qualities. She was flexible and embraced the changes suggested, be it shifting from a revenue driven model to a profit driven model or thinking about appropriateness of dealers vs employees. I believe as a mentor my role was primarily that of a facilitator. I put in certain processes in place, like weekly meetings, focus on various Ps of marketing and above all- creating a dashboard so that she can use data analytics to drive her business.
Have you also learned certain things from this partnership?
Every one has a teachable point of view and sitting with Devi was no different. The agriculture industry was new to me so I took this opportunity to read up a lot about that space. Also, I admire the passion that someone like Devi brought to the table.
Do you think that incubatees need some mentoring on a personal/psychological level too?
Well, it is up to the incubatees. The agenda for the regular meetings should always be set by them. Many a times post the mentoring session, I would come out drained while Devi would be rearing to go, as though my energy has been transferred to her! That to me is a successful meeting!! Once a trusting relationship is developed, there can be a lot of knowledge transfer and it is always up to the incubatee how he/she wants to develop it.
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