Applications will open again in November 2017!
Our mentorship program in Springfield equips startups with thousands of dollars worth of free training and 4 months of regular monthly meetings.
Early-stage companies (and nonprofits) strengthen their pitches for funders, solidify a business plan, articulate their goals and challenges, and tap into the expertise of our mentorship community at a critical moment to move their business forward. Each startup works closely with a facilitator to identify milestones, track accomplishments, and negotiate pivots when needed. Ventures emerge with a dramatically improved business model and a deep network of people ready and willing to help them far into the future.
“VVM has way exceeded my expectations. I have never seen an environment so passionate, invested, and committed to our success. I wouldn’t be where I am today without VVM. And if you consider that we didn’t have to pay to participate in the program, or give up equity, it is easily one of the best business decisions I have ever made. I can’t recommend the people or the program highly enough.”
—Mike Arian, CEO, Prophit Health
“The past six months just saved me years of going the wrong way.”
How to Get In (Selection Process)
1. You must have an undying passion for your business. We look for entrepreneurs who live and breathe their startup.
2. You must be coachable, or able to take advice well and put it into action. This program is completely based on getting you tons and tons of advice from tons and tons of sources, so without coachability, we can’t help.
3. We look for entrepreneurs with ambition to scale (benevolent world domination). If your business saves puppies, awesome! But VVM wants you to aspire to save all the puppies.
These are the only criteria that we care about. For-profit, non-profit, tech company, food company, huge innovation, or simple service, it doesn’t matter at VVM.
Take note of the Events listed below because you must commit to attending all of them to qualify (barring a Really Good Reason)
Step 1: Written Application
- Bookmark this page in your web browser.
- Review the Program Expectations.
- Before applying make sure you can attend all required events (all events run 5-8pm):
- June 5th – Peer Pitch Camp
- June 7th – Pitch Party
- June 14th – Screening Party
- July 12th – Audition Night
- August 2nd – Orientation
- August 9th, September 13th, October 11th, November 8th – Mentorship Meetings
- Apply to the program by the deadline: May 29th @ 11:59pm
- Optional: Come to the Application Party on May 17th to get in-person feedback about the most important questions on the application.
Step 2: Screening Committee
- VVM Leadership will review all applications and pick the top 15-20 to move on to the next step.
- On June 2nd at 5pm check our Applicant Status Page to see if you were selected to proceed.
Step 3: Pitch Camps
Get intense, free training on how to pitch! All events take place at VVM World HQ in Springfield. Attendance to all events is required to proceed (exceptions made for Really Good Reasons only).
- Read Seth Godin’s Really Bad PowerPoint
- Create a two-minute pitch, with slides, and conforming to the guidelines listed here.
- REGISTER on Eventbrite and attend the Peer Pitch Camp taking place on June 5th.
- Update your pitch to reflect what you’ve learned.
- REGISTER on Eventbrite and attend the Pitch Party taking place on June 7th.
Step 4: Screening Party
Get interviewed by 10-15 VVM mentors and community members. If you score within the top ~15, you will be invited to Audition Night.
- Select ONE delegate from your team to be interviewed. Multiple team members can attend the event, but only one may take part in the interviews.
- Review the Screening Party Interview Ballot below to prepare for the topics you will have to discuss in the interviews. Judges will be rating you on these topics, and will ask questions to better understand how your startup performs in these areas.
- Pitch – The pitch clearly articulated (regardless of if you agree) the startup’s customers, what pains them, what the startup will do to fix those pains, and why this is a competitive solution.
- Challenges – The entrepreneur understands and articulated the challenges their business faces in the coming months.
- Coachability – The entrepreneur demonstrated that they have actively sought and adapted to feedback in the past.
- REGISTER on Eventbrite to attend the Screening Party taking place on June 14th.
- Check our Applicant Status Page on June 28th to see if you were selected to proceed.
Step 5: Audition
Pitch your startup (2-minute pitch) to the VVM community. If enough mentors commit to help you then you’re in!
Benefits for Entrepreneurs in Our Mentorship Programs
- Confidence: Learn to pitch your idea so it can attract mentors, partners, and funders.
- Visibility: The people in this region most dedicated to helping entrepreneurs are right here, and you’ll be on stage in front of them.
- Relationships: Relationships take time. This program gives you six months to build meaningful relationships with people who can have a transformative impact on your startup.
- Your Tribe: Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Our startups immediately find themselves surrounded by a tribe of people who understand the entrepreneurial life and support you through its ups and downs.
- Rapid Evolution: The sheer size and quality of the VVM community helps you fix what’s wrong before it’s too late and develop far faster than ever before.
“Trying to find support and resources for our startup, we’ve encountered many who take advantage of how little entrepreneurs know about what’s available to them. VVM recognizes that by empowering entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills to succeed, everybody wins. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of the VVM community.”
—Rachael Ellison, Co-Founder, Need/Done
Resources for Startups
- Pitch Camp tips
- Videos on flavors of capital, startup marketing, how to pitch, executive summaries, and more
- Our favorite podcasts for startups: Startup and The Full Ratchet
- Lean Launchpad course
- Customer development interview template
- Template business model canvas
- Executive summary template | sample executive summary