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Venture Mentor Network

It takes a village to raise a startup and at the University of Miami, student entrepreneurs have the opportunity to work closely with experienced mentors from a wide range of industries and functional backgrounds. The University of Miami Venture Network is a university-wide network founded by the School of Business, the College of Engineering and The Launch Pad to connect qualified, experienced mentors with University of Miami students and help them develop an innovative idea/service or launch their business.


To foster innovation, idea generation and new venture creation by bringing together students, alumni, and faculty from all the UM family of schools.


  • To develop innovators and entrepreneurs through a central point of learning, mentoring and outreach
  • To ensure startup companies remain focused on starting a business, becoming self-sufficient and financially viable

The Venture Mentor Network Approach

Venture Network mentors are alumni and friends of the University who volunteer their time and expertise to help University of Miami ventures grow and succeed. Venture Network mentors’ careers represent a wide range of experiences as founders, CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, CFOs, general counsel, and directors of successful companies.

Mentors may be connected directly to a venture suited to their experience, or they may identify the ventures they would like to work with following a presentation.

The VMN employs a team mentoring approach. This model allows for many approaches to a venture’s needs and gives mentees different point of views and skill sets from various team members. Within a team, one mentor will emerge to lead the team forward.

Qualifications and Characteristics of Venture Mentors

  • Strong startup expertise
  • Active listening skills
  • Time and enthusiasm
  • No personal agenda

Guiding Principles for Mentors

  • Provide a Safe and Trusted Environment for Startups
  • Confidentiality - Mentors and staff must sign a blanket NDA
  • Abstain from the Solicitation of Professional, Advisory, Investment or any other services
  • Abstain from offering to invest or consulting arrangements or any other employment arrangements. Applies to staff, mentors, and their agents or affiliates.

Mentor Responsibilities

  • Attend monthly meetings with mentees
  • Commit time to mentor companies
  • Minimum of two hours per month
  • Listen carefully to entrepreneurs and other mentors
  • Be polite and respectful
  • Understand and focus on entrepreneurs’ needs/aspirations
  • Coach the entrepreneurs in setting targets and next steps (give homework)
  • Constructively critique progress, suggest methods to improve
  • Build personal relationships (venture and mentor team)
  • Engage, assess, advise — actively contribute to ventures!
  • Be honest and avoid potential or actual conflicts of interest

Mentor Types

Lead Mentor

  • Drives efficient meeting management
  • Clarifies entrepreneur’s agenda and objectives
  • Distributes discussion among mentors
  • Ensures adherence to guiding principles and mutual respect
  • Reinforces homework recap and review
  • Leads mentor debrief

General Mentor

  • Adheres to responsibilities
  • Builds relationships with entrepreneurs

Mentor Specialist

  • Special skills/experience
  • One-time or limited engagement for special expertise (e.g.,legal opinion, pitch scrub, financial advice, etc.)
  • Request for advice can be initiated by entrepreneur or lead mentor
  • Lead mentor ensures that mentor team remains fully apprised and involved

Benefits to Mentors

  • Access to the wide network of successful entrepreneurs and executives
  • Opportunities to be recognized through Business Miami, the UM website and press releases
  • Opportunity to prepare teams to compete in national competitions such as ACC InVenture Prize, eMerge Americas Startup Showcase, as well as the School of Business- Business Plan Competition, and more.\

Entrepreneur Responsibilities

  • Regular meeting attendance
  • Mutual goal setting
  • Meeting agendas in advance and summaries promptly sent
  • Meeting/mentor team evaluation
  • Completed homework assignment
  • Provide regular venture status updates
  • Report inappropriate mentor behavior

    School of Business Administration
    P.O. Box 248027, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-6520
TEL: 305-284-4643
FAX: 305-284-6526
GRADUATE: 305-284-2510
UNDERGRADUATE: 305-284-4641