Are You Ready to Take Your Business to the Next Level?
MERLIN, the mentoring service for entrepreneurs, is looking for passionate individuals who want to grow and learn with the help of seasoned, experienced executives. Optimally, the prospective entrepreneur meets the following qualifications:
Creator of a business plan with a determination to commercialize a concept, process, or technology
Founder of a business at an early stage of development
Leader of a company preparing to advance to the next stage
- A passion and drive to build a successful business
- An ability to make a certain time commitment to the mentoring process
- Located in South Central Wisconsin
Does this describe you?
If it does, you are invited to learn more about the MERLIN application process, including rules for participating entrepreneurs (PDF) .
MERLIN Application Process
Bring Innovation to Life with MERLIN
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for mentoring from MERLIN in the very early stages of their venture creation.
Ideally, the prospective entrepreneur possesses: a business plan or has a clear project in mind or underway; one or more clearly defined obstacles or issues they need help with; open-mindedness; energy and enthusiasm.
Approved entrepreneurs gain assistance from the mentoring service free-of-charge in areas such as: business formation and funding, strategic planning, organizational management, specific technical issues and more.
At the heart of MERLIN is the relationship between entrepreneurs and mentors. While we cannot guarantee a mentor, we will commit our best efforts to establish these relationships based on aligning each entrepreneur’s needs and preferences with the appropriate mentor based on skill sets, experience, and availability. Entrepreneurs are assured impartial and unbiased advice by a code of ethics to which all mentors must adhere. Although MERLIN mentors do not sign confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements, all identified proprietary information provided by entrepreneurs will be maintained in strict confidence by MERLIN.
The Application Process for Prospective Entrepreneurs
Step 1. Complete the Application Materials
A prospective entrepreneur’s first steps toward being mentored is to review the Rules for Participating MERLIN Entrepreneurs, complete and submit the online application to provide basic information about the venture.
Step 2. Invited Entrepreneurs Give a Business Presentation
A subgroup of mentors hold a monthly entrepreneurial application review meeting. This review committee meets with applicants to assess an applicant’s needs and to determine the most appropriate next step, which can be (1) give the applicant feedback on what may be necessary steps before participating in a mentoring relationship; (2) set up a meeting with an individual mentor; or (3) present at a monthly meeting in which all mentors are invited to attend to be matched with a mentor team.
Step 3. MERLIN Entrepreneurs are Selected
Each month approximately 2-3 new prospects are chosen to participate in the entrepreneurial/mentor relationship.
Mentors and entrepreneur are matched based on the skill sets and interest of mentors for the issue or challenge that the entrepreneur is facing.
Step 4. Entrepreneurs Meet with Mentors
Once a mentor/entrepreneur relationship is formed, the entrepreneur and mentor/s make a mutual decision on the frequency and optimal format of interactions.
As the emerging venture develops, the mentoring needs may change. The MERLIN Program Director is available for further guidance and assignment of new or additional mentors, when appropriate.
What are the responsibilities of a MERLIN entrepreneur?
MERLIN entrepreneurs are expected to commit to an ongoing relationship with MERLIN and its mentors. They are expected to be professional, open and responsive to the volunteer mentors who work with them. The entrepreneurs are also expected to provide MERLIN, to the best of their ability, with accurate information about their venture.
In addition to abiding by MERLIN policies, entrepreneurs in the program are asked to agree, in writing, to abide by the specific rules governing the program.
MERLIN mentoring services are for educational purposes only. MERLIN volunteers provide mentoring to help guide the entrepreneur’s decision-making processes. All business decisions remain under the full control of the participating entrepreneur. It is the responsibility of the entrepreneur to complete the work as agreed upon in the mentoring sessions.
What is the time commitment for the entrepreneur?
Since each venture is unique, the nature, extent and time frame of the MERLIN mentoring process is largely determined on a case-by-case basis. In general, the mentoring process is an ongoing educational relationship, requiring a minimum of the equivalent of one day per month.