When Kevin Rowney, 34, walked into his final interview at Netcentives, a Silicon Valley Web-based marketing startup, he wasn’t sure he wanted the job. But after chairman and cofounder Eric Tilenius, 30, described the company’s offer, Rowney was hooked. What clinched the deal? The mentoring.

Netcentives offered to give stock options to any senior executive Rowney would recruit as his mentor. “There were a lot of opportunities for me, but the idea of mentorship, especially in the startup environment, where there are so many perils, was compelling,” Rowney says.

As his mentor, Rowney ultimately chose Steve Harari, 41, the former president of Enterprise Integration Technologies Corp. (EIT), where Rowney had previously worked. Harari sold EIT in 1995 and now is an independent consultant to startups.

Harari recognizes that his stock options are essentially symbolic. His stake in Rowney, however, is more substantive. “I expect to be in touch with Kevin for a good long time,” he says. “Whatever life he chooses after Netcentives, I’m sure I’ll be part of that too.”

Coordinates: Kevin Rowney,; Netcentives,; EricTilenius,; Steve Harari, harari@ix.netcom.comFCS