When you’re generating this much energy, word travels fast. VVM’s Mentorship program in Springfield has strengthened many dozens of ventures, engaged hundreds of mentors, and set the Pioneer Valley buzzing with entrepreneurial drive. It’s contagious! Says VVM Executive Director Paul Silva, “We were approached by multiple other cities who each said, ‘We love what you do, but it’s too far away. Can we partner?’ and every pilot program has exceeded our goals by leaps and bounds.” At VVM’s first Greenfield event, over 70 people participated. VVM and the Franklin County CDC decided to launch a full-scale version of the mentorship program there. “The CDC has been an enthusiastic partner,” says Rick Feldman, Mentorship program director. “We’ve wanted to do this with a local partner having roots in the community. VVM is hosted by community leaders and participants, not seen as an outsider.”
Greenfield’s monthly mentorship meetings are currently attracting 40 to 50 people per session and growing. The initial startups being mentored come from a wide range of sectors: food, pet products, education, clothing, and recreation among them. Some come from as far away as Vermont and New York state, and 90% of this cohort are women-owned. “The program has a different flavor in each place, and the local partners have a strong role to play in recruiting participants and promoting the program. We’re excited to see how the Greenfield program will grow and develop,” says Feldman.
VVM will continue to partner with fellow startup-support organizations to inspire entrepreneurs and direct startups to resources. “Amherst has an enthusiastic partner organization in the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, and our pilot there attracted 150 participants,” says Feldman. “We’re now planning to launch an Amherst program.” Silva notes, “Co-sponsoring these events also lets VVM strengthen our relationship with all of the other awesome organizations supporting startups.”
Congratulations to the first group of startups in Greenfield’s mentorship program—we can’t wait to see what you get up to!
2015 VVM Greenfield Mentorship Program Startups:
Hilltown Wilderness Adventures Sled Dog love, hugs & kisses. Chance to get pulled by a team of semi-tamed wolves in the wilderness! Once in a lifetime experience. Puppies!
Hometown Foods I train food entrepreneurs to create Freezer Meal Kits from locally sourced and vacuum packed foods for meals superior to store brands.
New England Disc Golf Center A Premium Outdoor Recreational Center, family focused, affordable, with a wilderness experience featuring Disc Golf for all ages.
Learn more about VVM’s Mentorship programs here.