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It's imperative to avoid any conflicts of interest with the ventures you're working with. Avoiding even the appearance of impropriety is critical. If the word gets around that VMS mentors are looking for clients, jobs or equity – our reputation and ability to attract the best entrepreneurs and mentors will suffer.

It is our policy that mentors should not have any relationship with a VMS venture where there is any form of compensation or equity. As a VMS mentor your primary interest in serving cannot be to scout for investment opportunities, new clients, or a job.

Occasionally, there will be cases where mentors are so excited about a business that they would like to invest or join the team. In these exceptional cases, VMS does have a policy and procedure that serves all parties.

The key elements of our policy are communication and transparency of information. If you are considering investing in a venture or taking any role involving any form of compensation (including equity or options), the very first step is to notify the VMS Coordinator via e-mail at venturementoring@rit.edu or by phone at 585-475-7953.  

A brief summary of the policy:

  1. Investor in a VMS Venture
    • You cannot be an investor in a venture that you are mentoring.
    • You must inform the VMS Coordinator immediately upon contemplating such an action and immediately recuse yourself from further VMS activity related to the venture.
    • Thirty days’ notice is required to allow for review by VMS staff and counseling of entrepreneur.
  2. Operational Role as an Employee or Consultant to a VMS Venture
    • You cannot receive any compensation from a venture you are mentoring.
    • You must NEVER approach any VMS venture to propose your involvement. If you believe that your services as an employee or consultant would benefit them, discuss this with the VMS Coordinator to determine any possible next steps.
    • If a venture approaches you, and if you have any possible interest, you must immediately notify the VMS Program Coordinator and recuse yourself from further mentor activities with the venture.
    • Thirty days’ notice is required to allow for review by VMS staff and counseling of entrepreneur.

A few final words about avoiding conflicts of interest:

All mentors should be alert to the potential for real or perceived conflicts of interest to arise at any stage of a venture's development.

  • If you know you have a conflict, alert the VMS Coordinator immediately and recuse yourself from any dealings with the venture in question.
  • If you think you may have a conflict, discuss it with the VMS Coordinator immediately to arrive at the proper course of action.