Emily Bernstein & Veronica Fresneau

“Be selective and, opposed to the popular saying, do not limit yourself to like-minded people”

Interview with Rockstart mentor and investor Redeëet Negate

So you’ve got your pitch deck. You’re ready to find investors who believe in your innovation so you can grow your business and fuel the transition to a greener future. But then, you hit a roadblock. Perhaps the timing isn’t right, or your business model needs a few more adjustments in order to prove your potential to scale. How do you keep your momentum going so you can raise that round and continue marching the road to success?

When obstacles present themselves, having a mentor who has been through it all before can help you navigate the way forward. A great mentor will challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and push you to think from new perspectives. Redeëet Negate, a Rockstart Energy mentor and owner at Daybreak Ventures, is one of those people. In addition to his extensive experience as an entrepreneur, Redeëet also invests in changemakers and provides them hands-on business development support, which is why we were excited to speak with him and to pick his brain on all things business-related.

We reached out to Redeëet who shared his views on investing in changemakers, what founders should look for in a mentor, and the most important thing to keep in mind when looking to raise a seed round.

Please tell us about yourself and why you decided to invest in changemakers?

Of course, thanks for the opportunity to contribute. I’m Redeëet, and for the past decade I have been active as an entrepreneur in different sectors., e.g., direct sales, software development and digital marketing. Since 2014 I have invested part of my returns in change-making startups to help aspiring entrepreneurs truly solve real-world problems. Of course, a decent ROI also plays a role, but investing in changemakers has double the impact.

You have been a Rockstart mentor since 2018. What is mentorship to you and why did you become one?

Mentorship is candidly but respectfully providing startups with guidance for challenges, often similar to challenges you have encountered earlier yourself. Why I became a mentor myself is two-sided. First, I take great joy in helping others achieve ambitious goals, which is something that startups participating in Rockstart absolutely have in common. Second, mentoring also adds to my own know-how; you never stop learning!

What advice would you give to startups looking for a mentor?

First of all: be selective and, seemingly opposed to the popular saying, do not limit yourself to like-minded people. To truly utilise the opportunity, make sure you understand each other, but realise that you won’t find growth in seeking yea-sayers but in finding candid sparring partners with different views on your challenges.

What advice would you give founders looking to raise their seed rounds?

Seek traction as early as possible: it’s the most convincing indicator for investors to judge whether your business is worth their investment. Furthermore, KISS: keep it short and simple! People invest in companies they understand, so make sure you don’t risk losing investor attention because you do not sharply state the problem and your solution in your elevator pitch.

You’re also an investor. What inspires you to invest in a startup?

I believe that investing in a startup is something you do primarily based on confidence in the founders, since developing business models will pivot, more often than not. The most important boxes are ticked if those founders are truly solving a problem that they are extremely passionate about, that I can relate to and that has the potential to scale big.

Mentor-startup relationships are one of the cornerstones of our acceleration programs for energy and agrifood startups, and as Redeëet says, it’s important to seek out diverse perspectives if you want to get the best out of the experience. That is why we have a community of carefully selected mentors with diverse backgrounds and experiences who are there to guide you from Day 1.

If you found this interview helpful, you can find our previous posts from our “Mentor in the Spotlight” series on our blog. Be sure to check back regularly for more insider views on investing and mentorship!

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