Mentor Stories: Meet Orfeuo Lionor

Hey there, this is Emily from Red Brick. Welcome to our “Mentor Stories” series, where we celebrate and showcase our mentors who are a big part of how we support startups in Red Brick Accelerator. We hope you enjoy reading them!

It is no secret this mentor story covers one of our favorite coaches. Meet Orfeuo Lionor, the guy we are to blame for turning Red Brick founders into pirates. 

Orfeuo Lionor’s diverse background and love for coaching and education have shaped his approach to mentorship. He believes in the power of passing on knowledge and learning alongside others. His journey into the world of startups began with a passion for sales and a knack for exploring new markets. However, it was his involvement in hackathons that truly ignited his curiosity and opened up a whole new world of possibilities. In these intense 2-day events, Orfy discovered the power of rapid prototyping and the thrill of building something from scratch. He also immersed himself in London’s vibrant startup ecosystem, where networking events and “fuckup nights” provided invaluable lessons in resilience and learning from failure. 

His generalist experience covers product development, validation, and funding to mention a few. We sat down with Orfy to discuss his values, expertise, and to gain insights from his years of coaching startups.

For Orfy, it’s not just about the technology; it’s about the people behind the startups. When evaluating founders, he looks for traits such as curiosity, courage, coachability, and a data-centric mindset. He emphasizes the importance of de-risking business models and focusing on learning and experimentation.

One of the top mistakes Orfy sees startups make is building something without understanding their target market. He advocates for a “learning journey” mindset and encourages founders to validate their assumptions through experiments before investing heavily in product development. The learning part is the most important thing. The learning can be converted into something now or somewhere down the road. In this startup, or in a future startup. Another mistake is building too early – also called “MVP obsession”. People can really benefit from learning how to run experiments to validate assumptions before moving into MVP-mode.

“Know when to ask for advice, and be able to distinguish between good advice and bad advice, and know that advice is just advice; data never lies.”

Orfy’s pirate values

  • Fun: it’s a serious business but it’s also a creative industry. Might as well have some fun while we’re at it (that includes a dose of self-ridicule that can be healing)
  • Integrity: Acting with honesty,independent thinking, transparency, and fairness in all dealings with startups. Always giving back even if you do not get anything in return.
  • Empathy: Understanding the challenges and emotions of startup founders and providing support and guidance with sensitivity.
  • Collaboration: Working closely with startups thereby fostering a collaborative and supportive ecosystem. Many countries think of how to build stronger ecosystems. It’s all about the people, people willing to share things without expecting something in return. Orfy says, “Some of the most valuable lessons that I’ve gotten were from people who were willing to share strategies, shortcuts, tips, tricks, mistakes.”
  • Inclusivity: promoting diversity, inclusivity in a startup ecosystem, ensuring equal opportunities for all founders. A successful ecosystem is built on diversity.
  • Empowerment: empowering startups to take ownership of their journey, making informed decisions, and achieve their goals autonomously. “With coaching, you always know that there is a limit to it. But you can give people a basic outline of the theory, and they can build off of it themselves. Instead of giving them the fish, teach them how to fish with frameworks, tools, and exercises to learn how to de-risk their business model on the basis of data, to be data-centric.”

His advice for first-time founders is simple yet profound: focus on learning rather than proving yourself. Embrace each experience as an opportunity to grow and develop as an entrepreneur.

Early-stage founders should prioritize building a strong team with complementary skills. Orfy believes that finding the right co-founder is crucial and suggests attending hackathons as a great way to meet potential collaborators.

In essence, Orfy’s journey embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship—a willingness to learn, adapt, and collaborate in pursuit of building something meaningful. 

“Inspiration is in everything. Art and creativity, every day. Art is there to provoke people, and in startups that is very useful. You can be inspired by everything, there is so much inspiration everywhere. Looking at things from a different perspective, thinking out-of-the-box. Nature and environment. Philosophy and wisdom. Everything. Inspiration can come from everywhere.

Red Brick mentors play an important role in the shaping of our early-stage startup teams. We thank Orfy for his insights and expertise in helping our teams grow and succeed. 💚Has this inspired you to mentor a startup team? Get in touch, we are always looking for new mentors to join our family!