We were introduced to Telemachus last year by the amazing team at Hackers and Founders. Telemachus is a big supporter of H/F and their accelerator, Co-op. He’s also a founder of Nephoscale, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider which became a WebFWD partner after we met.
Since then, Tele has gone on to attend our orientations, our graduations, and even coach our teams on their pitching! That’s because - in addition to being a husband, dad and startup founder (phew) he also happens to be an angel investor. But he still has taken countless hours out for our teams at these events and on our team call. The best part? He’s the nicest guy you will ever meet. Promise.
Thank you Telemachus for all you are for us!
Running WebFWD is hugely rewarding for so many reasons…but the primary one is working with fantastic entrepreneurs, partners and mentors. It’s the latter that compels us to honor this month’s Mensch of the Month award to our star mentor, Allen Wirfs-Brock!
So when Pascal invited him to help out, we jumped on the chance to invite him to mentor our teams. He jumped back, working with a number of teams in our last cohort and even flying down to San Francisco for just the day to coach our current teams during their Orientation pitch practicing. Now that’s serious commitment!
“He is an incredible sounding board and source of wisdom” says one of our teams. Another credits Allen’s insightful questioning as the reason behind their significant pivot — a shrewd choice to adapt early rather than drag out an unsuccessful path.
Please take some time to thank Allen with us for his amazing contributions to our teams.
Our teams are so lucky to have Allen!
This month’s MoM has a special place in our heart. He became familiar with Mozilla well before WebFWD was a twinkle in its eye, as his wife was a marketing exec for Firefox back in 2009-10. As a long-time institutional investor, Didem and Pascal recruited him to be a mentor at the program’s kickoff and was off and running.
He mentored our teams (so much that he joined one of their advisory boards!), and hooked us up with world-renowned frog design to give quite an extraordinary talk to our teams (it’s pretty awesome, and if you watch it now you’ll see how prescient a talk that is!).
He even donned the makeup to appear in our 2nd promotional video (go to 1:31 on our home page today :)…and let’s not forget *he* recruited Diane, who worked with him back in the Web-a-saurus days of 1.0, to join the WebFWD team. Score for Diane!
Then he left the demanding world of investing for an even more demanding role as CEO of a leading mobile games company. Natch - he was still all over grilling our WebFWD II teams before they pitched on their graduation day last month.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, our February Mensch of the Month is Marco DeMiroz. Marco, you rock and we are so lucky to have you!
Good thing we snagged him before SAG did!
Last month we unveiled our Mensch of the Month Award (aka “MoM”). In short, it’s for people who go above and beyond the expected. Who serve others without hope of getting something back. The people who go out of their way to help others with no hope of payback. They pay it forward.
Often this involves behind the scenes stuff. Doing things that aren’t recognized. When our teams graduated last week, they were featured in some gorgeous glossy programs that the 80 or so attendees used for Tweet instructions and general information on our teams.
Just so purdy
Of course, we didn’t “outsource” these programs in the traditional sense. Instead, we went to the professional we knew would do a fantastic job based on his work for our first class. Jesse von Doom: an accomplished graphic artist, WebFWD alum and yes, total mensch, produced these programs for our 2nd graduation (as well as the 1st, we might add).
Not only did Jesse do a fabulous job, but he did it in the same way he participated in our program: with an insanely positive attitude and energy, coming up with ways to serve and go beyond what is expected. Dubbing Jesse MoM represents his overall modus operandi of constantly excelling and striving to help others.
People like Jesse make what we do a joy, not a job. Thank you Jesse!
We love to share “The Art of the Start” with our teams. It’s a classic manual written by Silicon Valley maven, marketer, communicator & investor extraordinaire (oh, and also one of our mentors ;), Guy Kawasaki,. It is chock full of principles and tactics for getting your startup off the ground.
Guy’s final chapter in the book is titled “The Art of Being a Mensch.” Even if you didn’t grow up learning Yiddish, you can get the gist of what this means for tech entrepreneurs from Guy’s post — key attributes include:
Help people who cannot help you. A mensch helps people who cannot ever return the favor. He doesn’t care if the recipient is rich, famous, or powerful. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t help rich, famous, or powerful people (indeed, they may need the most help), but you shouldn’t help only rich, famous, and powerful people.
Help without the expectation of return. A mensch helps people without the expectation of return—at least in this life. What’s the payoff? Not that there has to be a payoff, but the payoff is the pure satisfaction of helping others. Nothing more, nothing less.
Help many people. Menschdom is a numbers game: you should help many people, so you don’t hide your generosity under a bushel. (Of course, not even a mensch can help everyone. To try to do so would mean failing to help anyone.)
Do the right thing the right way. A mensch always does the right thing the right way. She would never cop an attitude like, “We’re not as bad as Enron.” There is a bright, clear line between right and wrong, and a mensch never crosses that line.
Pay back society. A mensch realizes that he’s blessed. For example, entrepreneurs are blessed with vision and passion plus the ability to recruit, raise money, and change the world. These blessings come with the obligation to pay back society. The baseline is that we owe something to society—we’re not a doing a favor by paying back society.
Like Mozilla, WebFWD is a community-powered effort. Our mentors, teachers, service providers, Scouts and fans give their talents and time to help our teams succeed; we realize the program would be nothing without them. And from time to time, some of them really stand out. We want to recognize them. Please join us in honoring our first Mensch of the Month:
As lead developer of our alumni team BigBlueButton, Fred is a tireless advocate of WebFWD. We used BBB for our team calls even before they joined our program (because it’s just good!), and Fred hosted our calls to ensure all went smoothly. Once he joined the program himself, he coached our teams on sales, and now that he’s an alum, he even put together this fantastic module for them (and you). He even coached them on our team call, doing role-plays, and offering up more of his time for individual teams for further help.
All of the above — and the fact that he is just a great guy - qualify Fred for our first MoM award. Congratulations, Fred!