A new MIT-modeled mentorship program is available to Kansas City entrepreneurs.
The Enterprise Center in Johnson County is now accepting applications for its new mentoring program, the Growth Mentoring Service, which adopts the approach of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Venture Mentoring Service.
The free, two-year program is welcoming all entrepreneurs who meet its guidelines of managing an established business with at least $100,000 in annual revenue and having ambition to scale operations. Applications for the first class are open now through May 9, after which the ECJC will accept applications on a rolling basis as quickly as it is able to recruit additional mentors.
The new program will meet a growing need in Kansas City, said Melissa Roberts, marketing director of the ECJC.
“Mentoring is an essential part of entrepreneurial development, especially in Kansas City, where entrepreneurs struggle to gain the traction necessary to attract angel investor interest due to a pervasive seed capital gap,” Roberts said. “We believe that a reputable, later-stage mentoring program will bridge gaps where our local capital markets fail, and ultimately, create more companies ready for and attractive to Series A investors.“
The mentoring program is also beneficial to companies that, for one reason or another, are not seeking capital, Roberts added.
“There is a large and growing group of entrepreneurs running high-growth but uninvestable businesses,” she said. “For instance, those who are growing based on cash-flow, those who don’t see an exit in their future, or those who simply want to own the company that they’re building. These entrepreneurs need just as much advice and counsel, but there are even fewer resources to help them grow. Without a mentoring program to fill that gap, we could be missing out on the next Cerner or Garmin.”
In a departure from other area mentorship programs, GMS pairs entrepreneurs with teams of experienced, qualified mentors. A lead mentor will coordinate a team of three to four mentors who work together as a group with the entrepreneur, providing day-to-day professional advice and coaching.
Participating entrepreneurs will meet with their mentor team at least once a month during the first year of the program and at least quarterly in the second. Entrepreneurs who wish to continue an association with their mentor team beyond two years may do so.
GMS models its approach after the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, of which it is a certified affiliate after management completed a week-long, intensive training course at MIT in January. The model has served over 1,200 companies, 2,500 entrepreneurs and hundreds of mentors in its 15-year history, said Roberts.
“Launching the MIT mentoring model in Kansas City is an asset because we have the benefit of learning from MIT’s 15 years of continuous operation and improvement,” she said. “While this program might be new, the model is not, and its proven success at MIT has led to its use in over 50 communities around the world. We’re proud to be bringing this world-class example to Kansas City.”
In addition to looking for entrepreneurs to launch its pilot class, GMS is also on the hunt for mentors with wide-ranging business expertise. Mentors will be selected after a rigorous interview process.
The ECJC is offering informational sessions for those interested in participating in the program April 6 and 28. To learn more about the program, click here.