Johanne Arnet & Veronica Fresneau

“Remember that success has many faces, but failures only have one”

Interview with Rockstart Agrifood mentor, Frederik Lysgaard Vind

Mentors at Rockstart are a carefully-selected group of individuals who believe in helping others and paying it forward, expecting nothing in return but the opportunity to help founders with their business challenges by actively listening and providing guidance.

Copenhagen-based Frederik Lysgaard Vind is one of those people. Actually, Frederick is all about people, impact and growth. Currently a People & Culture Advisor for several promising startups, Frederik is also an independent Venture Developer at LYSGAARD, supporting early-stage tech startups in their growth. An entrepreneur himself, Frederik also co-founded TalenTree, a talent engagement software designed to help build and maintain relationships with the best candidates. Finally, Frederik is also a core mentor in BIRanalyzer’s Core Council, a role which sees him playing a part in and following the company’s progress on a frequent basis throughout the course of the Rockstart Agrifood acceleration program.

With Frederik sharing so many values in common with Rockstart, it made a lot of sense for him to join the family as a mentor in Rockstart Agrifood. In addition to acting as Core mentor to one of this year’s startups, Frederik has also shared his insights about the role and his mentor playbook in a workshop for the Rockstart Agrifood startups and mentors.

We reached out to Frederik to ask him a few questions about his philosophy and approach to mentorship and why do startups need one.

Many thanks for joining us. Let’s start with a warm-up question. Can you tell more about yourself and how did you get into mentorship?
Sure, my name is Frederik and I work as an independent venture developer and startup investor and I specialize in people, organisation and culture. I got into mentorship at Rockstar by coincidence as I work out of Matrikel 1 [workspace and meeting space], as Rockstart does in Denmark. In 2019 Rockstart was looking for someone to facilitate a workshop on investor reporting, so there I was and things took on from there. That being said I’m also very passionate about entrepreneurship, impact and people which fits well with Rockstart’s mission.

As you mentioned you are one of the Rockstart mentors. What is mentorship to you and why you became one?
I’m a big fan of mentoring done properly in contrast to coaching, as the format requires it to be conducted by real people having relevant experience giving proper advice and not just asking questions 🙂 Mentorship to me is many things, and I did a short presentation for Rockstart on the subject, feel free to have a look at the presentation here.

What should mentorship be like in your opinion?
Well, I guess that the most important factor to me is that there needs to be trust and confidentiality, clear value-adding factors both ways and openness to learn and develop.

Can you tell us more about possible roles a mentor can hold?
Yes, when thinking of this I always think back at my early years as a chef trainee. The head chef told me how to hold the knife and cut an onion, but also taught me about life in a broader sense. For instance how I should always arrive a couple of minutes before schedule and how to mentally prepare for the rush hours. To some it up, mentoring can take many forms but there must be a clear value-added.

What’s your advice for startups looking for mentorship?
To be picky and selective when choosing your mentors and remember that success has many faces, but failures only have one. What do I mean by that? It is easy to give advice, but that they are the ones being held accountable for the actions they take. It is therefore important to listen to advice, but they need to make their own decisions.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a mentor?
1: Put effort into understanding the role and how to conduct the challenge in the best way, it is not an easy role to fill.
2: Do not underestimate what you can gain from it, there is an old saying that if you want to learn something try to teach it to others.

You have continued to be a mentor for startups in 2020. Do you have any advice for startups on building their teams, retaining talent at a time like this?
Yes, I have many, but most of them are context-dependent on the specific startup and maturity stage. I’m working on a startup growth compass dealing with these specific factors, feel free to watch and a short explanation of the tool here.

You’re also an investor. What inspires you to invest in a startup?
I’m always looking for the following: A deeper-rooted purpose that I can relate to and want to engage with, great people with great values and, last but least, the potential to make a great impact and build a big business.

What special spark are you looking for?
Not sure, chemistry is a thing in the equation but chemistry can come from many things. When assessing a team, I look for the ability to: get ahead (moving a bigger strategic agenda), get things done (execution power) and get along (connecting with the people around).
For example, I do think that the team at BIRanalyzers for which I mentor in the Rockstartup Agrifood Program & Fun has a great spark.

What has been one of your biggest failures, and what did you learn from the experience?
Wow, not sure what to answer, there have been so many :-). I did just close my previous startup Talentree in March and I’m still having a hard time accepting it. I’m not sure if I would describe it as a failure, as we took a calculated risk by starting it and I’m proud that we chose to close it before starting to use investors’ money. For a bit of background, we closed it due to lack of product-market-fit, particularly lack of proof of business just before we should have raised money to invest in tech. We had a decent turnover, but that was created from consultancy, not the actual scalable solution.

To reinforce Frederik’s points, here are also a couple of pieces of advice from our team based on many hours spent among founders and mentors in the last approximately 10 years. The most important one is that being a founder or part of a startup’s team can be a very challenging and sometimes very lonely experience. A mentor can be crucial during tough times but also when strategic decisions need to be made. This is one of the reasons why at Rockstart we believe in the power of sharing knowledge and experience generously and altruistically. Our mentors are some of the best serial entrepreneurs, investors and experts.

If you have found this interview insightful, you’ll be happy to know we plan to continue our “Mentors in the Spotlight” series. In the meantime, you can also check the previous interviews from the series here and here.

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