Q&A with StartR Mentor Derrick Oien
Derrick Oien is the CEO and founder of Score Stream, a mobile app which uses crowdsourcing to provide live score updates on thousands of athletic games at a time. Oien is also a committee member and a mentor at EvoNexus, a startup incubator in Southern California. In addition, Oien is a mentor at the Rady School’s StartR Accelerator program, and shares his experience and expertise with various StartR teams. The StartR Accelerator program provides assistance to students and alumni to turn their ideas into successful startups.
How/why did you become a mentor for StartR and what is most personally rewarding for you?
I had been involved in mentoring at EvoNexus downtown and had gotten to know Kim King, a member of the EvoNexus oversight committee. She asked me if I would be up for lending a hand. I have had a number of folks help me over the years so I enjoy returning the favor.
How does the mentorship process work for StartR?
The various mentors meet with the companies, literally starting during the application process Lada Rasochova, Kimberly Davis King and Rosibel Ochoa, who run the program, try to pair mentors with subject matter expertise directly with the kind of companies that can use specific help in an industry or functional area.
What StartR team did you mentor?
The two that I have been most engaged with have been Lab Fellows and Service Pair.
What challenges did you help them overcome?
I think for Lab Fellows, I spent most of the time with the CEO, Julio de Unamuno IV (MBA ’14), helping him to get a sense of context around what he should be focusing on and helping to walk through particular challenges. With Service Pair, it has been more about helping them figure out ways to solve the empty room problem you have in two-sided marketplaces and also giving them advice on different stages of validating their business and go to market approach.
How did they progress from start to finish of the program?
Lab Fellows ultimately got into EvoNexus and they continue to make progress. Service Pair has been more under the radar but I think they are making great strides to seeing their vision come to market.
In your opinion, why is mentorship important for startups?
Most entrepreneurs are out in the wilderness by themselves and need a sounding board. I think they also need to learn from others’ mistakes so they don’t have to needlessly repeat mistakes that others have made in the past.
What are your top 3 tips for budding entrepreneurs?
1) Don’t raise money too early.
2) Launch and test your product as early as possible.
3) Know that however long you think things will take, it will always be a lot longer than you ever thought...