I am a product manager / director and was an engineer for many yrs before that. I've led engineering teams before, currently leading product and design for a large project at my current role. Also started a company before this, which folded...but I got a ton of experience out of that. I feel people could benefit from my successes and failures, and I'd like to become a mentor at 500 startups but I don't know who to approach or where to start. Any ideas? (ps. I cold-emailed a few of the mentors at 500 startups, with what I thought was a thoughtful email...but got no response)
As a 500 Startup mentor I would suggest the following
1) Blog about distribution, design and data. Those are the things that 500 values most and usually the fastest way to get on their radar.
2) Interact with @davemcclure (and all other partners) on Twitter
3) Attend geeks on a plane or other events they host.
It's all about relationships and perception, so create opportunities to increase the probability of showing them that you have skills that are relevant to the companies they invest in.
Hope that helps.
I appreciate your desire to be helpful to startups. And I think instead of becoming a listed Mentor at 500 Startups, I'd reach out to companies who have graduated from 500 Startups who are "live in the wild" and in need of your expertise. Find the companies that you're really passionate about, and reach out to them directly and offer to help in any way you can.
You're likely to make a much greater impact on those companies this way and create meaningful reputation capital within the 500 Startups community and startup community in general.
For me personally, I think Clarity is a much more efficient and fun way to give back to other entrepreneurs. By answering questions and doing calls on Clarity with teams in need of your expertise, you're able to scale your impact far greater than pretty much any other way of helping.