Demeter is an entrepreneur-centric support network. We believe robust, sustainable, resilient businesses are built by strong and resilient entrepreneurs. The core of our support is entrepreneurial advocacy, which is provided by a Personal Advocate and peer mentor. These are multi-year relationships that provide the entrepreneur a combination of continuous and ongoing experienced business advice, friendship, and moral support.
The Personal Advocate helps the Demeter Entrepreneur identify and develop the skills and experience necessary to successfully lead their business. This starts with the Inventory of Needs, a self-assessment of skills, mastery, and experience that the entrepreneur completes and then discusses with their Personal Advocate. They set personal goals and objectives and business goals and objectives and develop a plan for the Entrepreneur to achieve these.
Direct support and advice from Personal Advocates and peer mentors is complemented by targeted expertise from a range of Experts in a variety of industries, regions, and functions.
Advocacy and Community for entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur advocacy and community are the core of Demeter. Each entrepreneur has a dedicated Personal Advocate (PA). This is an experienced businessperson who serves as the entrepreneur’s guide through Demeter, providing an average of 4 hours of direct support to the entrepreneur each month. Each entrepreneur completes an Inventory of Needs at intake, which identifies his or her goals and objectives. Their Demeter experience is designed around this. The PA arranges peer mentoring, introductions to relevant experts, online classes, and self-development, while also providing strategic guidance for the entrepreneur’s business.
The relationship between entrepreneur and personal advocate is deeper and longer than in typical mentorship or coaching. First, personal advocates are concerned primarily with the success of the entrepreneur as defined by the entrepreneur. This is deeper commitment than just providing business mentorship. This requires being a friend, a trusted confidant, and a listener. Second, each personal advocate commits to at least three years with an entrepreneur. The time a personal advocate and entrepreneur will spend together will create a more thorough understanding of each other, the sort of advice that is useful, and the sort of problems that might be coming around the corner. A successful personal advocate will know the entrepreneur well enough to raise issues potentially overlooked by the entrepreneur. Third, the personal advocate commits to an entrepreneur, not a business. Some businesses will fail. That does not mean the entrepreneur has failed. It may just be time to move on to a new project. This frees the personal advocate truly to concern himself/herself with the success of the individual entrepreneur.
Access to Experts enables entrepreneurs to answer specialized questions they may be unable to answer on their own. Demeter is recruiting a network of experts across regions and domains (logistics, economics, marketing, sales, legal, venture capital, and website design, to name a few). Experts are expected to spend roughly one hour a month answering inquiries from any entrepreneur in the network.
Demeter has partnered with Boston-based legal firm, Mintz Levin, to provide legal services to Demeter Entrepreneurs. Mintz Levin specialize in a number of industries and have a practice focused on startups. They can help companies with capitalization, employment, governance, intellectual property, and organization. Since 2010, they have completed 240 venture capital transactions with an aggregate value of over $1.8 billion.
Demeter Entrepreneurs are eligible to receive $15,000 in deferred legal fees from Mintz Levin. This amount would cover the typical startup through their first fundraising event and includes a significantly reduced startup package to register the company and create formation documents. Legal fees are due once the business reaches one of the Demeter success milestones (see below). Engagement with Mintz Levin is subject to their approval.
Financial Checks and Modeling
When entrepreneurs join Demeter, those with an existing financial model will receive a review and assistance in further developing the model to be used as a tool to better understand the business, make decisions, and to present to investors. Entrepreneurs without a financial model in place will reveive assistance to develop it for their business. This assistance will be ongoing and entrepreneurs will also receive regular reviews of financial forecasts, investor presentations, cost structure, and financing resources. The entrepreneur will participate in the review so that they can eventually conduct these on their own.
Knowledge Capture and Dissemination
Knowledge Capture and Dissemination preserves and consolidates the experiences, learning, failures, and successes of entrepreneurs and their supporters. Our aim is to build a unique knowledge base around the specific challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurship in LICs. Demeter’s knowledge repository will be available for use both within and beyond the network. The content generated will range from quick and informal documentation (wikis, vlogs, blogs, etc.) to academic research and more formal publications (papers and cases).
research and Content Development
Demeter Fellows and interns provide assistance to Demeter Entrepreneurs in the areas of market research, competitive analysis, financial research, social media assistance, and developing marketing collateral. This helps entrepreneurs develop their strategy, business plans, budgets/financial models, and investor presentations, identify funding opportunities, and reach the right audience. Examples of work Demeter Fellows and interns have provided for Demeter Entrepreneurs are ways to diversify sourcing and reduce risk in agriculture, economic incentives for different business opportunities, social media strategy, and content development for press kits and websites.
committment from entrepreneurs
Demeter entrepreneurs have a couple committments once they join the network that contribute to the community of entrepreneurs, personal advocates, and experts. They will be paired with another entrepreneur to serve as a peer mentor and they make regular and informal contributions to the Demeter content library, sharing their experiences with other entrpreneurs through blog posts, short videos, and wikis.
Entrepreneurs’ financial contribution to Demeter is aligned with the success Demeter helps them achieve. They have two choices:
- Assign Demeter a 3.5% option in their company and a fee equivalent to $500 per month of their membership in Demeter.
- Assign Demeter a 5% option in their company. There is no additional fee.
Options vest and payment is due once the company reaches a predefined “value creating event.” These are:
- Net profit before tax reaches $100,000
- A cumulative dividend of $75,000 is paid
- There is a change of control
- Series A round (not Angel or seed round)