With June in the rearview mirror, it’s time for a mid-year check-in. How’s your outlook for the rest of 2023? Whether you’re brimming with optimism for the latter half of the year or are feeling a bit stuck, mentorship and community can inject a dose of structure and inspiration to supercharge your motivation in the coming months. 

That’s why we’re thrilled to open up applications to Fast Track, our fan-favorite mentorship community that pairs rising stars in the startup space with trusted mentors who have heaps of knowledge to share.

Since launching the program back in 2016, we now have 14 cohorts under our belt and have made over 4,000 mentor-mentee pairs. Along the way, we’ve learned a ton about what makes mentorship truly impactful

To start, we hand-match every single mentorship pair based on interests and areas of expertise (more later on what we’re looking for from prospective mentors and mentees). And to pave the way for success, we provide the structure for an experience that’s meaningful by design, with playbooks, resources and best practices on how to make the most out of the mentorship experience. Within that structure, each one of these thousands of mentorship pairings is able to blossom into a relationship that’s incredibly unique and best suited to serve the mentee’s needs and the mentor’s expertise.

But the experience goes far beyond just these impactful 1:1 pairings. When you join Fast Track, you also become part of a community surrounded by thousands of talented operators like yourself across the startup ecosystem who will inspire you. 

How the program works:

Fast Track is a 90-day mentorship program running from around Labor Day to Thanksgiving. After being paired up, mentees meet bi-weekly with their mentors to discuss their professional goals, the challenges of startup life, tactics to cultivate their leadership skills, and frameworks for how to grow their impact. You’ll also have ample opportunities to build your network and connect with other talented folks who are similarly growth-minded as you move forward together.

In addition to those impactful 1:1 sessions, mentors and mentees also receive invitations to events within the larger Fast Track community — past events have included angel investing 101, public speaking workshops, Q&A events with First Round’s partners, and more. Most events will be virtual, but we’ll also be bringing some in-person programming to a few select cities for folks to connect IRL. All participants also have the opportunity to network with other mentors and mentees via virtual coffee chats and an exclusive online community.

The time commitment for mentors and mentees:

  • From September 4th to November 24th, mentors and mentees will meet every other week for one hour, a total of six 1:1 sessions.
  • There is mandatory training for both mentors and mentees the week of August 28th.
  • There is optional programming for everyone in the Fast Track cohort — but you’ll get the most out of the program if you make time to attend a few of these extra sessions and events.

It may seem like a big commitment — and that’s by design. One of the biggest challenges with mentorship is the lack of structure, with mentees who fear coming across as needy to busy mentors, and mentors that don’t want to risk overstepping in their advisory role. That’s why we’re clear about the specific bi-weekly time commitments — so that everyone’s on the same page at the start.


You might be a good fit for mentee spot if: 

You’re a startup operator looking for ways to supercharge your impact, either as an individual contributor or a team leader. Mentees can come from any functional background, whether it’s engineering, product, design, marketing, sales, people ops, and more. Operators across the startup ecosystem are encouraged to apply to be a Fast Track mentee, even if you’re not already a part of the First Round community.

Some mentees enter Fast Track with goals to level up from individual contributor to manager. Others made a cross-functional leap, looking for mentorship guidance as they flexed new skills. Plenty of our mentees are seasoned leaders themselves, with ambitious goals to level up from great to excellent. And some mentees lean on their mentors as they join a startup for the first time, and tackle all the nuances that come from going from big to small.

No matter your individual targets, you’ll get further, faster with the power of a community behind you. By joining Fast Track, you’ll unlock the energy and knowledge share of the entire cohort of talented mentees and mentors who will motivate you, hold you accountable, encourage as you make necessary pivots, and cheer you on to think even bigger. 

As former mentee Josh Archer put it, “I’m grateful to have had a mentor who has done what I’m doing a few times over. They were incredibly helpful in sharing tools and resources that they have used to structure their team and processes. They weren’t afraid to point out where I was going wrong so that I could correct course for the betterment of the company.” 

And mentee Emma Steele adds, “Fast Track is so unbelievably helpful. I continuously learn things from my mentor that I am able to implement into my workflow immediately following our meeting. It’s valuable to have an outsider’s perspective on your company and the dynamics you’re facing.” 


You might be a good fit for a mentor spot if: 

You’re a VP, mid-career superstar or director at a breakout tech company with over six years of experience under your belt. While startup experience is highly encouraged, we’ve also had plenty of impactful FAANG mentors. The common thread is that you have a strong desire and ability to help folks achieve their bold goals, navigate career paths, level up in specific functional areas, recognize blind spots, and manage and lead teams. You use your own learnings and candor to elevate the knowledge of others, helping mentees discover and amplify their talents by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. You’re also excited to join an all-star community of tech leaders, where you’ll form impactful new connections and learn from other amazing folks.

The feedback we hear time and time again is that mentors get a ton of value out of the program, too (in fact, many have returned to mentor for multiple Fast Track cohorts). While mentors sign up for the program with the goal to share knowledge, they end up learning right alongside their mentee. 

As repeat mentor Prabhath Nanisetty put it, “I love meeting and getting to know my mentees. Many times I discover things about myself and my career that were not clear until I began helping my mentee. It’s a fantastic experience!”

And another multi-time mentor, Kintan Brahmbhatt, adds: “Fast Track has been a terrific program from the start and it continues to exceed expectations with every new cohort. The community of mentors and mentees alike is peculiar in its inclusiveness and a very high signal-to-noise ratio. I have learned as much from my mentees as I hope to have contributed.” 

Whether it’s sharpening their coaching and leadership skills in 1:1 sessions with their mentee, sitting in on a workshop exclusive for Fast Track Executives, or connecting with other ultra-talented folks and building deep relationships across the First Round community, there are tons of tangible benefits to signing up as a mentor (including the opportunity to lift up other folks as you climb).


Know anyone who might be a good fit as a mentor or mentee? Please forward this post and encourage them to apply.