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For Mentors

The following guidelines for participating in RIT’s Venture Mentoring Service program are based on best practices of university-based business incubators with extensive mentoring program experience.

  1. The purpose of RIT VENTURE MENTORING SERVICE is to support entrepreneurial activity within the RIT community, focusing primarily on startup companies that are members of Venture Creations, RIT’s business incubator.  
  2. The resources of VMS will be offered without charge to all members of the RIT community who are actively connected to a venture, through Venture Creations, as a founder/principal or executive/officer.
  3. It seeks volunteer mentors among RIT alumni, locally and nationally, and from non-alumni with particularly appropriate backgrounds and skill sets.
  4. Mentors will be selected for their experience in areas relevant to the needs of these startup companies and for their enthusiasm for the RIT VENTURE MENTORING SERVICE program. 
  5. Relationships between mentors and startup companies will be formed based on the needs and preferences of the startups and the interests and available time of mentors.
  6. VMS recognizes that promotion of its goals requires careful adherence to principles that put the interests of the startup company at the forefront of all considerations and interactions.
  7. By the nature of the process, mentors become trusted company advisors and must commit to remain free of any conflict of interest with respect to the company that they are mentoring.  
  8. Mentors must be willing to commit to volunteering approximately five (5) hours of their time per month to their assigned startup company and to commit their services one year at a time.
  9. Mentors must be willing to consistently attend Board of Advisors meetings, on a pre-determined annual calendar. Teleconferencing will be provided for mentors who cannot attend in person.
  10. Mentors must be willing to take “subject matter expert” phone calls or similar types of communication as appropriate from the startup company in between meetings.
  11. Mentors will be expected to accept some limited "homework" in the form of assigned action items originating from the Board of Advisors meetings.
  12. Should mentors wish to become an investor or an employee, that is certainly allowable, but the relationship with the company will become one of investor, and/or board member, or employee, rather than mentor.
  13. In the event that an entrepreneur desires to alter their relationship to an assigned RIT VENTURE MENTORING SERVICE mentor (e.g. the entrepreneur desires a mentor to join its management team or to become an investor) then the entrepreneur must notify the RIT VENTURE MENTORING SERVICE staff of such development and the mentor must provide RIT VENTURE MENTORING SERVICE 30 days advance notice, formally recusing himself / herself from the role of RIT VENTURE MENTORING SERVICE mentor with respect to that venture.

Mentor candidates are generally invited to apply by someone affiliated with RIT (faculty, staff, or alumni) or are referred by a Venture Creations partner or volunteer.

All VMS candidates must complete the following and submit via e-mail to the VMS Coordinator at venturementoring@rit.edu:

  • The short application below
  • Submit a resume or bio
  • Provide one professional reference

The New Mentor Review Committee holds interviews with all applicants. The interview affords us an opportunity to become better acquainted with an applicant’s unique skills and experience, to discuss the critical role our mentors play and to answer any questions prospective volunteers have about the program.

For more information, please provide the following: 

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.

Please download, sign, and return the Mentor Acknowledgement/Agreement to VMS Coordinator, Jane Tibbitts via e-mail at venturementoring@rit.edu