What is a (startup) mastermind group?

by Kyriakos Chatzidimitriou | Nov 7, 2019 11:25 | business

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I've been listening to podcasts from Startups for the Rest of Us for some time now and what has captured my attention was the idea of having a mastermind group. The notion of a startup mastermind group was mainly discussed in episodes:

Originally mentioned in Napoleon's Hill book "Think and Grow Rich" (I haven't read it, but it was mentioned in the podcast), a mastermind group is a (small) group of people who are in a similar "boat", encounter similar problems and have a similar type of business. Such a group can give suggestions to allow you to make better decisions for your business and grow your accountability towards yourself and your business. It can also offer you support and feedback. Especially for micropreneurs and solo founders, it is a way of getting a group of supportive people without being isolated. Family, friends and/or employees will probably never understand your problems at the level you need them to.

Some heuristics are:

  • 3-5 persons are around the optimal, 3 people is an very good number to have
  • Duration around 2 hours
  • Around 30' each talking about your product/problems
  • Meet every other week
  • Have an opt out period
  • Have an expectation of confidentiality because you will be discussing monetary and legal stuff among other things
  • Probably the best is to have met in person before

For accountability, planning and history you can use an colab document editor like Google docs with bullet points of:

  • previous commitments
  • accomplished work
  • work to be done

Five approaches to structure your mastermind group:

  1. Round table: each person speaks an equal amount of time.
  2. Time segments: for example 5' talk, 1' questions, 1' transition to the next person and start over
  3. Short hot seat: 1 person gets extra time for example 1h, 15', 15'
  4. Dedicated hot seat: - each session one person talks all the time
  5. Use a moderator

As you can see there is no correct way to structure your mastermind group. The most important point is to be meaningful and helpful for everyone participating.