In Boulder’s bustling startup industry, a key ingredient is the high-caliber experts, venture capitalists and seasoned entrepreneurs volunteering their time as mentors within investment accelerators—companies that help startups get off the ground.
“In a world in which you might expect to see greedy capitalist behavior, we see a remarkable amount of prosocial behavior,” explains Brad Bernthal, associate professor of law at CU Boulder and director of the Entrepreneurial Initiative at CU Boulder’s Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship.
Bernthal’s research found that while Boulder-based accelerators make helping others part of the business model, mentors’ involvement isn’t simply altruistic. Rather, they expect that donating their time and expertise will bring benefits—like a first look at new companies with novel business models and technolo-gies, and the ability to work alongside other experts. “It’s like being part of an elite club. And, it’s fun,” adds Bernthal. “Mentors report that volunteering for startups is all the fun of doing a startup without having to do it 24-7.”
CU Boulder Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative; Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship; University of Colorado Law School