Four Silicon Couloir board members and two staff members spent three days in late September attending the MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) Immersion Training in Cambridge, MA. The training, funded by a USDA rural development grant, provided a thorough blueprint of MIT’s highly successful group mentoring program, which is designed for entrepreneurs. Completion of the training allows Silicon Couloir to model a new mentoring program- Teton Entrepreneurs and Mentors Service (TEAMS)- after the VMS model and join the network as the 77th “sister” program to MIT VMS.
All Silicon Couloir attendees were highly impressed with VMS’s tried-and-true mentoring methodology. “We quickly understood that MIT has perfected a first-rate program that has been replicated with great success is other communities,” says Board Member Nathan Adams, who will chair the Mentoring Executive Team. “The time is ripe for implementation of this program in the Teton entrepreneurial community. It will be the mortar that binds the bricks of our existing services and offerings.”
The VMS mentoring model is unique in that each venture is assigned a team of mentors, all of whom are present at meetings. The team structure provides the entrepreneur with a range of experience, perspectives and advice. Mentors build on each other’s ideas and insights, resulting in richer conversations than a one-on-one mentoring model. “We are fortunate to have 6 years of team mentoring experience through our Pitch Day coaching, so this is a natural progression of our work to support the growth of local entrepreneurs.” says Silicon Couloir founding Board Member Liza Millet.
The benefits of mentoring for both mentors and ventures are numerous. Mentees gain the guidance of experienced professional. Mentors have the rewarding opportunity to share their many years of hard-won knowledge. Both help to strengthen and grow the entrepreneurial community.
It is important to note that at the core of this program is a set of guiding principles that attract mentors who are truly selfless in their offering of time and experience. No active mentor may invest in a venture they are mentoring through this program, or receive any form of compensation, financial or otherwise. The program will be offered for free to qualified mentors and mentees.
Currently, Silicon Couloir is hard at work developing a TEAMS pilot mentoring program to be launched in early 2018. The pilot will consist of a select group of mentors and mentees and will run for 6 months. “The pilot will give us an opportunity to craft a world-class program based on the MVS model, but unique to the needs of Teton region entrepreneurs,” says Executive Director Scott Fitzgerald. “We anticipate a highly successful pilot that will put us on track for expanding TEAMS in mid-2018.”