VMS Program Offerings

The primary service we provide to prospective entrepreneurs is team mentoring, but we do provide additional resources for our entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs must have at least one meeting with a mentor team in order to be eligible for these additional program offerings. Fill out a Venture Information Form to apply to VMS and be paired with a mentor team. 


 

Team Mentoring Sessions – These are face-to-face meetings with the two or more highly experienced volunteer mentors that make up a venture’s mentor team. Meetings are conducted as frequently as needed and as requested by the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs be have regular meetings with their mentor team to remain part of VMS.  They can schedule mentoring sessions by contacting the VMS Office via email (at vms@mit.edu) and suggesting possible meeting dates and times. They are responsible for taking notes at each meeting and submitting them to the office.

One-on-One Mentoring Sessions - In addition to team mentoring sessions, entrepreneurs may arrange one-on-one meetings and maintain ongoing email communication with members of their mentor team. These meetings should be infrequent and supplemental to team mentoring sessions. Mentors and entrepreneurs should always let the VMS office know about individual meetings, and entrepreneurs are required to submit meeting notes.

VMS Venture Mail List - A mailing list is available exclusively to the MIT founders of VMS ventures. The list provides a way for entrepreneurs to talk to and advise each other, and discuss things that arise in the course of startup life. Ask the office (vms@mit.edu) to be added to the mail list.

VMS Office Hour Programs – Ventures enrolled in VMS can book 30-minute appointments with experienced professionals to receive business-focused answers and practical advice on the following topics:

  • Legal Office Hours – Examples of topics include initial organization and capital structure; employment issues and equity incentive programs; corporate finance matters; seed capital and venture capital financings; joint ventures and strategic alliances. Please note that advice provided during office hours does not serve as legal advice.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) Office Hours – Potential topics include the protection and licensing of technology under patent, trade secret, and copyright laws; selection, licensing, and protection of trademarks; intellectual property issues in other business contexts, such as contracts, agreements with employees, financings; etc. Please note that advice provided during office hours does not serve as legal advice.
  • Accounting Office Hours – Examples of issues that can be addressed include corporate structure (Inc. vs. LLC, etc.); corporate tax compliance (income, sales, franchise, payroll, etc.); working with non-compliant taxpayers and getting them compliant; foreign entrepreneur issues; accounting and implementing “best practice” procedures and systems; payroll and founder compensation; 83(b) elections and any other tax, payroll or accounting issues. 
  • Government Contract Accounting – These sessions address accounting questions related to small business government contractors, including SBIR/STTR Phase 0, 1 and 2 candidates and awardees, and understanding best practices when setting up an adequate record keeping and reporting system for new or existing firms.
  • Immigration Law Office Hours – Examples of topics include general immigration matters and considerations involved in starting a US company; temporary work visa options for startups or established companies; family-based green cards; investment-based visas or green cards; etc. Please note that advice provided during office hours does not serve as legal advice.
  • Human Resources (HR) Office Hours - Entrepreneurs can learn about team formation, vehicles for finding employees, hiring and employment contracts, job descriptions, employment offers, legal and regulatory (confidentiality, I-9’s, etc.) standards, and on-boarding employees. 
  • User Experience (U/X) Office Hours - These sessions are designed for ventures to receive advice on how to plan for the design of new products, how to enhance the usability of existing products, and guidance on how to think about enhancing the user experience design process while reducing delivery risk in startup situations. 

Office hour appointment scheduling is coordinated by email through the VMS office. To find out about openings, email vms@mit.edu

Entrepreneurial Edge Event – This is an annual networking reception hosted by VMS each fall for entrepreneurs, mentors and select members of the MIT administration and faculty in celebration of entrepreneurship and mentoring. A small number of VMS-mentored companies are invited to showcase their ventures. This event demonstrates the breadth of entrepreneurial activity among the ventures enrolled in VMS.

Venture to Mentor Link (V2M) - This bi-annual daytime networking event is designed to introduce 15 or so invited ventures to the mentor group. The event features an informal exhibition space in which ventures can showcase their ideas and products. This is a social event at which mentors and entrepreneurs can get to know one another better, possibly resulting in new mentor team connections or other contacts for entrepreneurs.

MIT VMS Boot Camps – These are seminars/panel discussions in which mentors share their knowledge and expertise on focused on topics relevant to startups. They include:

  • Sales Boot Camp: Typically offered during MIT IAP in January, it provides VMS entrepreneurs with the basic tools for sales success: practical information they can use to acquire customers, close deals and generate revenue.
  • HR Boot Camp: Typically offered in early spring, it provides VMS entrepreneurs with the basic tools for hiring success and helps them avoid human resource pitfalls that can derail their startup.
  • IP Strategy Boot Camp: This provides VMS entrepreneurs with a basic framework for thinking about intellectual property from a business and strategic perspective.
  • Marketing Boot Camp: Typically offered in the fall, it provides dozens of marketing tips and best practices, and demonstrates many examples of successful marketing tactics, particularly in demand generation. 

Ventureships Club - Ventureships is an MIT student club that connects students with MIT-affiliated early-stage startup companies to work on real-life business issues such as market analysis, financial forecast, regulatory approval, business development, marketing, and more. Ventureships teams typically consist of 3-5 students. The Ventureships Club accepts project proposals from companies each semester.

Snapshot Pitch Presentation - A monthly opportunity for invited VMS entrepreneurs to practice a 4-minute elevator pitch before ~80 VMS mentors, with the opportunity for questions and discussion afterwards. Entrepreneurs may also attract new mentors to their venture. If an entrepreneur seeks introductions or connections from mentors down the road, a Snapshot Pitch may provide mentors with a better understanding of their venture and help them identify the best contacts.

VMS Demo Day - This event showcases VMS ventures that are ready to seek funding. Approximately twenty qualified VMS ventures make short pitches and host tabletop demonstrations to an audience of potential investors. Attendance is by invitation only and limited to Boston-area early-stage venture capitalists, angels, and other potential investors. Our objective for VMS Demo Day is simple: to extend our support of innovation and entrepreneurial activity throughout the MIT community by preparing and presenting our funding-ready ventures to funding sources.

Discounts available to VMS participants - VMS participants are eligible for a number of discounts and programs through VMS. Some examples include MassChallenge application discounts, the Hubspot for Startups program, the MathWorks Accelerator & Incubator Program (which includes 12 free months of use on including MATLAB and Simulink), and cloud services (such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft for Startups). 

STEX25 Nominating Partner - VMS startups are periodically nominated to participate in the MIT Startup Exchange's STEX25 Startup Accelerator. Selected teams have access to many benefits, such as: a travel stipend to one MIT Startup Showcase event, custom assessment/outreach/matchmaking with ILP member companies, insights and understanding from corporate experience and management resources, and more! For more information, please visit: https://startupexchange.mit.edu/stex25