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How We Work

Getting Started

The Venture Mentoring Team assists startups and small businesses via regular in-person or virtual meetings. Founders and/or principals of mentee companies interact with a select group of VMT mentors who have expressed interest in working with those companies after an initial application and vetting process. (That process is described for both startups and small businesses elsewhere on this website.) Each meeting lasts 90 minutes to two hours.

What's Next?

We begin by asking the entrepreneurs what’s keeping them up at night, and what they have accomplished from the previous meeting. VMT mentors, who are committed to a strict code of confidentiality, listen deeply, ask questions, and make suggestions as appropriate. These may come in the form of insights, lessons learned from experience, constructive critiques, recommended strategies and tactics – anything that can bring value to the relationship.

After a robust discussion, action items and priorities are established, and a future meeting is planned at an interval determined by the entrepreneurs, which they feel offers sufficient time to accomplish their stated goals.

Achieving Goals

Entrepreneurs are asked to circulate notes to their mentors within 24 hours from the close of the meeting, and to submit an agenda no less than 24 hours prior to the next meeting. Mentees may reach out between meetings for assistance with special situations, or for one-on-one discussions if necessary.

Entrepreneurs are under no obligation to follow the direction of VMT mentors. There may even be a diversity of opinion among the mentors at times. We fully appreciate that the companies we serve belong to the mentees we serve. We do, however, speak from experience, having achieved a degree of success ourselves, and we will always state what we feel is right.

This formula has helped thousands of companies grow and achieve their goals.

Florida Atlantic University

The path taken by entrepreneurs is never a straight line and is full of twists and turns that often require expertise and guidance from professionals outside of the organization. We at 2nd Vault could not be more grateful and appreciative of the time and knowledge provided to us by the Venture Mentoring Team. Every minute spent with our mentoring team is time well spent and invested. The VMT mentoring team is a perfectly crafted group of professionals that all have meaningful direction and insights to provide. The VMT mentors keep us focused on what is in front of us systematically, helping to lead our company to scale. We feel so fortunate to have been selected as mentees of the VMT and hope to pay it forward in the future.  Thank you for all you do and the impact you have on start-up founders, as there is no price one could ever assign to the value we have received.

Kevin C. Cox, phD, MSE

Senior Instructor and Assistant Director

Elevate Together

Office Depot initiated the Elevate Together program in 2021 partnering with The Venture Mentoring Team, the National Urban League and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to deliver impactful, measurable and scalable support services that foster business creation and growth opportunities for Black and Hispanic businesses.

It has been an honor to partner with the Venture Mentoring Team during Elevate Together’s launch and early stages. Their mentoring methodology and training set a high bar, and their mentors have been invaluable to our Elevate Together grant recipients.

We look forward to the VMT’s continued work with Urban League affiliates, Hispanic Chambers and other community partners to provide mentoring services to minority-owned small businesses as they grow and expand their mentoring services.

Sharu Goodwyn

National Manager, Community Investment, Elevate Together

Alex Price

National Director, Community Investment / Co-Leader, Diversity Council