The MIT Venture Mentoring Service (MIT VMS) was founded in 2000 after two successful MIT-affiliated serial entrepreneurs – the late Professor David Staelin and alumnus Alexander Dingee – independently approached Provost Robert Brown with similar proposals to remedy a gap in how the university supports emerging entrepreneurial ventures. They developed a visionary concept for a venture mentoring program that would provide unbiased, conflict free business advice to entrepreneurs.
MIT VMS has been recognized as an innovative leader by the Kauffman Foundation, and has been awarded a Presidential Citation from the MIT Association of Alumni and Alumnae, and the Adolf F. Monosson Prize for Entrepreneurship Mentoring. MIT VMS was awarded the NCCI (National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education) 2010 Award of Leveraging Excellence, recognizing its contribution to innovation and improvement in higher education.
MIT VMS has created an Outreach Training Program to proactively disseminate its practices, experiences and methods to other universities and economic development organizations across the US and worldwide. More than seventy-five organizations around the world have participated in the Outreach Program and established mentoring programs based on the MIT VMS Model.
The Model is based on years of continuous learning and improvement. What separates the MIT VMS program is its combination of fundamental elements to make up a complete system. Those elements are:
- Skilled experienced, trained and motivated individuals as volunteer mentors.
A disciplined selection process that seeks experts that have a true desire to give back by sharing their experiences with entrepreneurs.
- Unbiased advice.
To insure that an environment is established that promotes unbiased sharing between mentors and mentees, there are established strict guiding principals that all mentors agree to. The building of trust between all involved in the mentoring process is essential to effective outcomes for the entrepreneur.
- Team Mentoring.
Each venture has assigned a team of mentors who meet collectively with the entrepreneurs. This has proven to be an exceptionally strong aspect of the Model for both the entrepreneur and the mentors. It provides the ventures with multiple opinions and advice from which to choose. The dynamics of the mentoring sessions are robust, penetrating and rewarding.
- Focus on the entrepreneur’s development.
The success of ventures is highly dependent upon the acquired leadership and skills of the entrepreneur. The desire to give back by the mentors is realized by the focus on the mentees’ growth as a successful entrepreneur.
- Operational infrastructure that promotes quality mentoring.
For the Model to effectively deliver the above elements it needs to insure that the execution is seamless and supportive. The MIT program has developed numerous operational processes that achieve that objective. They include measurements upon which to improve the program, effective scheduling, and smooth communications amongst all involved.
Key RIHub VMS personnel and mentors have been fully trained in the MIT VMS model. Because RIHub is solely focused on mentoring, we are unencumbered by other goals. We are committed to use the proven MIT experience to add value to the ventures that participate in our program. We are excited by the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of entrepreneurs in Rhode Island.
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