As a member of the I-Corps Team, Mentors are deeply involved during the seven-week period of the curriculum. They serve as networking and industry advisors, and help reinforce relevant lessons from the curriculum. 

Each I-Corps Team includes a mentor — an experienced entrepreneur — who can guide them as they refine their business models, gain insights from their customer market, and pivot down alternate paths. 

In 2017-2018, the UNY I-Corps Node recruited and matched 10 mentors for Teams it sent through the national program. 

The Value of Mentorship

The Mentor Role

I-Corps Mentors are advisors that have two primary roles. First, by being a third-party resource for the team, the mentor can help the team recognize and reduce confirmation bias during the customer discovery process. In this role the I-Corps Mentor is in some ways an extension of the I-Corps Teaching Team in helping the team absorb and apply the relevant lessons.

Second, the I-Corps Mentor should be someone that has industry contacts and knows the ecosystem of the target market area. I-Corps Teams will be interviewing more than 100 potential customers and potential partners in person. A good mentor can help the team find the right people to interview.


  • As a member of the I-Corps Team, Mentors must be available during the seven-week period of the curriculum
  • All members of the Team (including the Mentor) must be geographically near each other
  • I-Corps mentors cannot be paid a stipend or consultancy fees under the I-Corps grant


Mentor Testimonials

My teams became better at recognizing their assumptions and finding evidence to support or reject them. The result was more evidence-based decision-making. They learned how to approach the creation of a business with rigor and data.

– Michelle Kortenaar, Senior Director of Engagement and Learning at the Sciencenter

I-Corps is excellent at instilling disciplined thinking into the business planning process. In real life, many entrepreneurs will “lose the forest for the trees,” and this program forced constant strategic oversight so participants never forgot the overall vision of their business.

– Didi Discar, Principal, Galileo Bio Strategies, Inc.

Rob Shepherd

The first time I went through the I-Corps program, we discovered a new market segment and my team pivoted to focus on those customers. A student of mine is currently in I-Corps pursuing that new commercialization opportunity. Ironically, the original market we identified has caught up and my first I-Corps team is forming a company and receiving attention from investors.

– Dr. Rob Shepherd, Organic Robotics Lab, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University

If you need help connecting to a mentor, or would like to be a mentor, please reach out to the UNY I-Corps team.