Circles of Seven (C7) Business Mentorship Program

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell

Circles of Seven (C7) is a unique new business mentorship program of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership designed to provide small and medium-sized business owners the opportunity to be mentored by seasoned business professionals. The mentorship experience is conducted in a group setting with five other individuals (proteges) seeking the same mentorship experience. C7 groups meet each month for a period of nine months to discuss a wide variety of business issues.

Entrepreneurs often spend hundreds of hours raising funds and growing their business. While these activities are clearly important, analysis conducted by Endeavor Insight suggests that founders of startups should dedicate significant time to something that many people overlook: recruiting great mentors. This simple strategy can increase a company’s odds of success more than almost anything else. The study also found that many of the entrepreneurs leading the most successful startups had strong personal connections to the founders of other successful companies.

Through C7, entrepreneurs will benefit by the relationships they will build with others in their peer groups. Mentors offer their wisdom and knowledge acquired from the experiences they have had growing their own businesses. Proteges will have an outlet to discuss business struggles with others who may be facing the same challenges and obstacles. The program also offers an avenue for sharing new ideas and insights.

Confirmed C7 Mentors include: 
Bruce Toyama, VP Product Development, Bess Tech
Shaun Wiggins, President, CEO, Sotyrx
Theresa Agresta, Partner, Allegory Studios
Bob Mason, Founder + Managing Director, Planetarium
Phil Wilton, Managing Director, Strategic Global Group
Ken Evans, Partner + Director of Finance, Rewire Energy
Bob Manasier, Entrepreneur in Residents/New Ventures Manager, Innovate 518

Click here to download a copy of the protege application.

When complete, please email Shelby Schneider at or call 518-871-1887 with questions.

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  • Who can participate in Circles of Seven? – Any person who owns a Saratoga County based small business or has controlling interest in a small business and is the primary person responsible for its success. For the purposes of this program, we are defining a small business as anyone with an employee count of under 20 full-time equivalent employees. Businesses need to be in operation for at least one year. Whether you’re a tech start up, retail operation, service based business or manufacturer – C7 is here to help you. Unfortunately multi-level-marketing businesses do not qualify for the program. There are 42 positions open for proteges.
  • Who are the Mentors? – Mentors have been identified by the Saratoga Partnership as individuals who have had success operating a small business and have been responsible for its growth. They are also committed and have a passion to see other small businesses succeed. They have been coached and trained to facilitate these small groups.
  • Who will be in my group? I don’t want to reveal my trade secrets to my competitors. – Groups will be put together based upon diversity of type and sector of business. We believe that different sectors can learn from each other. We make sure that you will not be in a group with a direct competitor. Sharing concerns is a key part of the experience, so all participants are expected to keep a high level of confidentiality. All participants are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement keeping what is said in the group highly confidential.
  • When will my group meet and how long is each meeting? – At the kick-off event, the groups will meet for the first time and pick a place and time to meet. Some groups will meet at the mentor’s place of business, others will meet in public places. The Saratoga Partnership will help arrange meeting places for the groups if needed. Your group will decide the time that best suits the members of the group. We ask that the groups limit their meetings to 90 minutes. This is the ideal amount of time for everyone to be heard and topics to be discussed.
  • How long does the program last? – The program will last for 9 months for a total of nine monthly meetings.
  • Is there a manual or course of study? – No, there is no manual or course of study. All participants will get an email near the end of each month with the topic for discussion that relates to small business operations, challenges or issues for the next month. The Mentors will lead a discussion of the topic, but there will be ample time for diving into other issues.
  • What is the fee for participating? – There is a $95 fee helps cover the cost of administering the program. All Mentors are volunteers and they receive nothing for their participation, except your gratitude.
  • What happens after the program is over? – You will have experienced nine months of amazing conversations, coaching and learning. We will have a “graduation” ceremony where you will be recognized for your efforts and your accomplishment will be celebrated. You will have forged amazing relationships and have peers to turn to when you continue down the road of entrepreneurial success.
  • How to apply? – The Saratoga Partnership will be launching “C7” at a special networking event on September 21st between 6:00 – 8:00 pm at The Factory Eatery & Sprits, 20 Prospect Street, Ballston Spa. Email Shelby Schneider at shelby.schneider @ or call 518-871-1887 to sign up to be a protege![divider style=”solid” color=”#eeeeee” width=”1px”]

The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership’s strategic plan, The Saratoga Strategy, outlines our efforts to secure new jobs and capital investment by engaging existing business owners, fostering the growth of early stage companies and planting the seeds and providing resources for new start-up ventures in Saratoga County. C7 is a program designed to help achieve this objective.


The Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership is the County’s designated Economic Development organization leading the public and private sectors to achieve economic success for our businesses and residents. The Saratoga Partnership is the first point of contact for business retention, expansion, and attraction. We provide a seamless delivery of economic development and workforce development assistance for businesses seeking to expand in Saratoga County, New York.