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Robin Helfand is a consultant with over 30 years of experience advising, mentoring, and coaching entrepreneurs. She is also the owner of Robin’s Candy Shop, a delightful brick-and-mortar, old-fashioned candy store located in Great Barrington, MA. However, her proudest role is being a mother to three grown children, with whom she loves to go hiking. For the past two years, she has been involved with EforAll Berkshire County, where she shares her expertise and helps develop the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

 

What made you want to become a mentor?

During the height of the pandemic, I founded an organization called The Entrepreneurs Forum. It was a virtual means of staying in touch with fellow business owners who needed to pivot and rethink how they were going to stay in business. Running the Entrepreneurs Forum, I realized there was a lot of co-mentoring happening. However, we weren’t effectively reaching out to those looking to launch businesses during the pandemic. When I learned about EforAll and the opportunity to mentor, I was excited. EforAll typically attracts individuals looking to scale their ideas and launch them as real ventures, which aligns perfectly with my experiences and goals.

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

My current mentee is the creative force behind a project called The Dollhouse, a bed and breakfast with a maximalist drag theme aimed at serving marginalized and underserved populations. Rachel, the founder, is a force of nature. She approached our mentorship with an open mind, willing to hear and act on tough feedback. It’s been exciting to work with her as she navigates purchasing property and planning her business.

Previously, I worked with a young woman launching a line of custom street fashions that are sustainable, and described as slow fashion. She was also a dynamic participant, moving from an idea to creating an LLC. We were with her when she hit “create” on her business entity. She’s since received funding from EforAll and other grants and now has office space in downtown Pittsfield. These are just two examples of the incredible ventures I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring.

What is your favorite part of being an EforAll mentor?

My favorite part is the privilege of seeing people from all walks of life bring their ideas to fruition. Watching entrepreneurial thinking evolve is incredibly rewarding. Sharing wisdom to help budding entrepreneurs avoid certain mistakes, even if they make different ones, is valuable. I’m most excited about witnessing the process and growth of the next generation of entrepreneurs.

What do you think makes EforAll special?

EforAll’s programming is symbiotic and highly effective. The combination of classroom and virtual commitments, along with personal presentations, optimizes each participant’s ability to succeed. The network built among EforAll alumni is also remarkable—they support and promote each other, creating a strong community presence. This vibrant community of small businesses and entrepreneurs is a testament to EforAll’s impact.

What advice would you have for entrepreneurs?

“Jump in Eyes Wide Shut” is a phrase often associated with entrepreneurship, but I’d refine that to: have a conversation with yourself and trusted advisors about the realities of signing the front of the paycheck as a business owner. Be comfortable with the risks and be committed to pivoting when necessary. Failure isn’t an option—each setback is a chance to pivot and continue toward success. Embrace the journey, and be prepared to pick yourself up and keep going after every challenge.

Interested in becoming a mentor? Learn more here.