August 10, 2021 - 9:44 am

Meet the Mentor: Mary Michno specializes in data monetization including business development, business model design, data analytics, and sales

By 20Fathoms

Mary Michno wants to help founders turn their great ideas into profitable businesses. After a career spent working at the intersection of technology and automotive, she settled in Northern Michigan and continues her work growing companies as a 20Fathoms mentor. 

Mary works with founders and senior leaders to develop data-driven business development and sales strategies to generate company growth and profitability. Her background features business development and account management leadership roles for connected vehicle companies including Verisk Analytics, Sirius XM, Agero, Hughes Telematics, Intermap Technologies,  and NAVTEQ. Currently, Mary serves in a consulting role as VP of Sales and Business Development for London-based tech startup axitech. We recently sat down to chat about her time and experience as a 20Fathoms mentor.

Mary Michno, 20Fathoms mentor

How can entrepreneurs benefit from working with a coach or a mentor?

There are plenty of ways to benefit! If they’ve already got a product or service in their head or an algorithm in mind but do not know how to make it go forward, a mentor can help them think through the next steps.

How would you describe your role as a mentor?

I help solidify their product to make it marketable and profitable. Specifically, I can help them analyze their costs and determine what they need to move forward in the first years of business. I can help identify a target market, create a proof of concept, and establish a minimum viable product. I have lots of experience in business models, customer discovery, messaging, customer relationship, and acting in a supporting role for companies at various stages of development. I’m here to help founders discover what they might have overlooked and I’ll be encouraging and honest along the way.

Can you give me an example of a positive experience that you’ve had as a mentor?

All of my mentor relationships have been positive. One good example is the startup in London that I’m working with right now. It’s a digital collision management technology in the connected vehicle space and I’ve been working with the founder for a couple of years. We’ve worked together on business model development, customer discovery, and messaging to the target market. I’ve also helped them cultivate connections to other automobile and insurance companies. It’s been rewarding to see the company expand. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to entrepreneurs?

You have to have passion for your business! Those around you need to feel the energy toward what you’re building. Networking is everywhere, and presenting yourself with positivity and passion will only benefit your company. 

What drew you to Traverse City and 20Fathoms?

Traverse City has turned into a fantastic location for tech and business. The future is here and there will be big, exciting things coming out of our little big city. Traverse City hosts the lake in our backyard, four unique and beautiful seasons, great restaurants, and everything else you could ask for in a northern town with bursting potential.

When I moved here in 2008, I had the intention and desire to help build up other companies from the beginning stages. When I joined 20Fathoms as a mentor, I was initially assigned to two companies and both experiences went very well. I have plenty of international and domestic connections in the business world, and helping smaller businesses reach a larger consumer has always been my goal.

20Fathoms’ mentors offer expertise in business strategy, sales, negotiation, human resources, recruiting, IT, marketing, business development, data analytics, business scaling, product strategy, investment strategy, finance, IP, company culture, and more. The mentorship program is flexible based on your needs – use it for a one-time coaching session or a longer term business relationship.