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Laura Ma – Meet the Mentor

I have 7+ years of experience in startups fundraising, business strategy, product and pricing strategy, OKR and KPI planning, budgeting, financial projection, product management.
Laura Ma

Head of TikTok Partnerships Strategy & BizOps - Startup Strategy | Pitch Deck | Fundraising | GTM, TikTok, Cedar (Series D), Clearcover (grow from B to D)

The world is better if we help each other

Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I am an active startup mentor and advisor. I love talking with people and seeing if I could help them achieve their career goals or help them grow their businesses. The world would be better if we could help each other. I have helped several startups successfully raise pre-seed and seed rounds and helped one startup raise from series B to D and one from D to E. Wish I could help my mentees to achieve their goals together.

How can early-stage startups profit from mentorship?

I could help early-stage startup founders to go through their business, pricing, and fundraising strategies. I could walk through with the founders how to decide pricing for B2B and B2C businesses and how to build up an investor pipeline, how to track your KPIs, and how to leverage these KPIs to tell a good story. 

Who else are you typically mentoring?
I have also mentored people who are interested in career-changing. I have pivoted my career from a quant modeler to a product manager and then now focus on business strategy. I think it is important to know what would are you really interested in and how to take the action and achieve the goals.
How did you get your career start?
I started my career as a financial quant modeler, leveraging financial big data to build models and predict the market. But after founding an entrepreneurial community in Chicago, I discovered the entrepreneurial spirit in my soul and decided to leave my stable corporate job and join startups. And instead of working backend as a modeler, I figured I prefer to work with people and solve high-impact strategic problems. My quant background and consulting working experience honed my way to where I am here. I also talked with 100+ founders and tried hard to figure out the startup I would really like to join.

Mentoring is empowering

What was the biggest challenge for you doing that change?

It was hard to prove to someone that you could do something you have never done. To pivot from a quant modeler to a product manager, I have done pro bono product manager work for several early-stage startups to build up records. Similarly, before I changed from product management to business strategy, I have helped several startups step into new markets, and secured seed or pre-seed fundraising. 

What influence does your background have on your mentoring today?

I have worked with companies from the super early stage (the ideation stage) to the mature public stage. I am familiar with all the up and downs on this journey and I would be happy to share the stories and the learnings I gained. 

How do you usually set up mentorships?
I scheduled the intro call to figure out what I could help with and then I will prepare some materials in the doc to share with my mentees. I am always trying to make my suggestions as actionable as possible instead of leaving the suggestions in words. I also followed up with my mentee to check in with their progress on the weekly basis and schedule a catch-up call twice a month if the schedule works out for both of us. I prefer to build up long-term relationships with my mentees and would like to grow with them together.
What’s been your favorite mentorship story so far?
My mentee got the job offer successfully. I helped my mentee to refine her resume, and project and also helped her practice the interviews. I gathered 100+ behavioral questions and helped her walk through the career stories. Eventually, she landed her dream job offer.

I also mentored a startup founder for pre-seed to seed round fundraising. I helped to revise the deck, practice the pitch, and prepare the investor pipeline. Eventually, the founder secured a $5M seed round.
What are you getting out of being a mentor?
I felt empowered by working with my mentees and I also learned a lot through the process. I would like to become a startup advisor in the long-run in my life. So I am actively working on it to build out my reputation and track record. Hopefully, I could help more and more founders to figure out their business strategy, and pricing strategy, and successfully raise funds. I always believe innovation brings hope and hope will lead us to prosperity.


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