Step 1. Complete the Application Materials
A prospective entrepreneur’s first steps towards being mentored are to review the information on the MERLIN website, then 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 applicants 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.
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.
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 few hours per month.