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Kim Shkapich has worked for various nonprofits for many years and is also an entrepreneur, having opened her business in 2012. Her first experience volunteering with EforAll Cape Cod was as a pitch contest juror. She enjoyed seeing entrepreneurs present their business ideas and networking with people from the community, so she became a mentor in 2020.

 

What made you want to become a mentor?

When I started my cider beverage business, I had mentors with whom I would review my financials and other aspects of the business. However, my product was very unusual at the time, and my mentors didn’t believe in it. As a result, they weren’t listening to me, and much of the advice they gave me could have been more helpful. Some of it I followed to my detriment. This was a pivotal experience, as it made me realize it wasn’t about the mentor’s thoughts. They weren’t listening to me. When I had the opportunity to become a mentor, the most important thing for me was to listen to the entrepreneurs.

Can you give us some examples of the kinds of startups you have mentored with us?

I’ve had so much fun. I had a beat rapper who wanted to open a recording studio, a boat captain who wanted to expand his Fleet, and a jeweler who wanted to supplement her income. There was also an entrepreneur who was leaving Academia and wanted to pursue a passion in the glass art. This year, I’m mentoring a tech support business.

What is your favorite part of being an EforAll mentor?

I love that I get to collaborate with others who make a positive contribution that is meaningful and life-changing. I like being a cheerleader, and it also enriches me because I learned so many things from my entrepreneurs, whether it’s about new technology or some of them are from different generations. It’s always been an educational experience for me, which is awesome! 

It’s also amazing to see the group’s transformation as the cohort continues. They come in, and they’re all nervous. And by the time they leave, they have a resolve. 

What do you think makes EforAll special?

There are not enough things in our daily lives anymore that give us that kind of support, and that’s what makes EforAll so special: the community that’s created. The program is rigorous, but the environment that the entrepreneurs are in is consistently and unconditionally supportive at every step of the way. It’s a wonderful and safe way to nurture new ideas.

I also really appreciate the social contract that each cohort establishes within itself. Some relationships are forged and endure long after the program ends. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs?

Defying social expectations,  accessing funding, managing time, and balancing work lightly. I give women a lot of credit for trying to be their own boss in today’s world. It’s not easy, but many of them do it, and we see more women as leaders in the workplace. So that’s a good thing.

What advice would you have for entrepreneurs?

Pace yourself,  pay yourself, and trust your inner voice. Aim for consistent action and lose the attitude that everything has to be perfect. Accept that you can’t do everything and learn to ask for help. And I encourage entrepreneurs to turn their mistakes into life lessons. Allow yourself those moments to indulge in self-doubt and pity, then let it go and move ahead. 

Interested in becoming a mentor? Learn more here.