by Kyle LaBossiere
Maybar Durst is a sales and marketing professional with over 20 years of experience. She spent 14 years working her way up the corporate ladder at Cisco before deciding it was time for a change. She left Cisco in her search for something more fulfilling and began working with startups and small businesses; she now runs her own consultancy and is a valuable part of the WEVE mentor network. We asked Maybar about what her experience as a mentor has been like— and this is what she had to say:
How did you become a mentor at WEVE?
It all started about a year and a half ago when I came across a “Call for Women Mentors” post that WEVE had posted on a Women in Tech Facebook group I’m a part of. I was intrigued by it, so I contacted WEVE’S Program Director, Shai, to learn more about the opportunity.
Very shortly after that initial conversation, I was introduced to two of the startups in the US Soft Landing cohort— and I’m still in touch with them to this day. I would consider them my close friends, and I even became one of their customers!
Could you tell me a bit about what you currently do?
After I began mentoring at WEVE, I realized that I have an incredible capacity to support startups and add value to small businesses. A few months later, I left Cisco and started my own marketing consulting firm, Maybar Durst Consultancy, for startups. WEVE really helped me build the confidence to start my own company and help startups full-time.
What has your experience been like as a mentor at WEVE Acceleration?
It has been such a fun and exciting journey so far with WEVE, and, along the way, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my own strengths. One of the things that I appreciate most about mentoring at WEVE is that it’s very flexible— I can commit whatever time and resources I’m comfortable with (or want to). WEVE lets me set the cadence and choose which startups I want to work with, and how much time I want to dedicate to them. The ball is fully in my court. We all have our day jobs, but working with WEVE is extremely convenient. I love it.
I choose which startups I think I can be the most impactful with and set up bi-weekly meetings to coach them in their “problem areas.” I bring all my experience and knowledge to the table, but I also learned a lot from them.
It’s been a real pleasure to work with the WEVE team because you’re all so fun and responsive! Even though I’m based in California and we have our fair share of accelerators out here, whenever anyone asks me which accelerator I recommend the most, I always say WEVE. This experience has really changed my life. I was providing a lot of value, but also receiving a lot in return. It’s been immense for my personal growth and journey.
What do you think makes you a good mentor?
At Cisco, I was always mentoring my team members and my colleagues. I had a natural knack for seeing the bigger picture and identifying which steps would lead us to achieve complex goals. Because I was already “mentoring” others at Cisco and my personal life, it felt very natural to me when I started doing it more officially at WEVE.
What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a mentor?
I wrote an article about this on Linkedin titled, To Mentor or Not to Mentor. But of course, the answer is yes! I’ve had many mentors throughout my career, and to finally be on the other side of the coin, I see how much you gain from mentorship. Through my WEVE mentorship. I’ve been offered board positions in organizations, make valuable business introductions, and have built a network of incredible people.
You also introduced WEVE to the LEAP Network. Can you tell us a bit about it?
The LEAP Program helps professionals transition into a new industry or role, while also helping them discover the best career fit for them (or whether or not to start their own business). I initially joined the LEAP program thinking that I wanted to stay in a similar role, but switch to another large corporation.
But then I started my mentoring journey with WEVE, and I thought, “Oh my God, this world is amazing. I want to be in the startup community!”. Originally, I was really worried that no startup would want to hire me because of my corporate background, but the opposite was true— the startups I mentored began reaching out to me to take on senior executive roles in their company.
Ultimately, I realized that I want to be self-employed AND also be in the startup world that I enjoy so much!
What is some advice you have for startups expanding to the US?
- The thing that has made me who I am today is the courage and authenticity that I bring to my everyday life. I make it a point to tell founders to be themselves while working on their businesses. If you’re not true to yourself, then it becomes very apparent in your work.
- Don’t be cheap! I get it— money is a big obstacle when you’re an early-stage startup. You don’t have the resources that you wish you had. But how will you make it if you’re not going to put in the resources? You have to look at your marketing expenses as an investment!. Not everything has to cost you a lot of money, but if you don’t have the capital to pay others for their expertise and services, that means that you have to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself. And that’s not necessarily the best use of your time! So invest as much as you can in the best experts for great ROI.
Maybar’s experience mentoring helped her come to the realization that consulting gives her life. WEVE Acceleration helped her find the confidence to open her own consultancy and received as much value as she provided to the founders in our program. If you or someone you know would be interested in joining the WEVE family as a mentor, reach out to our Program Manager, Lea Goor, at [email protected].