Introducing Erik Aagaard who has vast experiences in product and business development. Since retiring Erik has shared his experiences with others, and fuelled his passions by being part of getting ideas out into the World.
Name: Erik Aagaard
Function: Retired business professional with experiences garnered in project management, product and business development. Currently mentor and sparring partner in many business ventures.
Which start-ups have you mentored?
In the recent 3 years I have, or am still, involved with around 30 mentorships/Advisory Boards. Of those three are as a mentor in the following AAU Start-ups: MR Horse Equipment, Arth Enginering and Storm.
Why did you choose to become a start-up mentor for a AAU start-up?
Have always had a general interest in entrepreneurship, and with the call from AAU SEA it was only natural for me to join the mentor program.
What are some of the best things about being a start-up mentor?
I am highly driven in part by the challenge of getting into the mind and idea of the entrepreneur, and from there get a sense of the wishes and risk willingness of the entrepreneur as part of a process of figuring out the different possible pathways to take the business. This process of clarification, followed by the development of the business with the shared deliberations and efforts, as well as sharing and celebrating small and big victories, all energise me greatly.
Would you recommend the role as start-up mentor to others, and why?
Yes. Beyond what I have already mentioned, most mentors cherish the personal development aspects and opportunities of following existing new contexts, environments and ideas. Contributing to potentially societal beneficial solutions with new jobs and economic growth to follow is also motivating.
What advice would you give to a new start-up mentor?
I do not see it as a main role to be the one who tells the entrepreneur what to do. Rather, it is about being humble and wishing only to do what you can to help.
The new mentor should make careful considerations as what type of role a given situation requires: ”One size does not fit all”.
If given a chance to give a general piece of advice to start-ups, what would it be?
Be ambitious but realistic, as well as be clear about the costs of entrepreneurship in time, money, regrets and deprivation, as compared to the rewards found in joy and contentment found in making things happen. I have a motto: “Do it with passion – or not at all”, and I do believe that covers entrepreneurship very well.
Other specific advice:
There needs to be a market for the idea – someone should be willing to pay for it; be realistic – wishful thinking just isn’t enough.
Be willing to listen to advice as well as being self-critical with own wishes and attitudes.
Be open to attend any opportunities to promote the idea, be it as part of competitions, pitch sessions or other.
Be critical towards the team composition of both professional and personal skills. It is your job to organise a team who can cover the necessary roles needed to achieve success.