Story by Amanda Narverud

Entrepreneurship is one of the driving forces of our economy today for sustaining economic growth and improving community wellbeing. Research indicates that innovation is far more likely to thrive when entrepreneurs with ideas can draw on the advice and guidance of a group of mentors with proven skills and experience. To help meet these needs of entrepreneurs from Mizzou, on Oct. 14 the University of Missouri launched the Mizzou Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) to serve as an educational program and team mentoring service for the MU community.

“The Mizzou Venture Mentoring Service will serve as an additional strategic tool for our local aspiring entrepreneurs.” said Hank Foley, MU System executive vice president and MU senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies. “I’m looking forward to the opportunities that the Mizzou VMS mentoring relationship will bring for the participating aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as the mentors. Mizzou VMS will further enhance the culture we have at Mizzou of entrepreneurship and enterprise.”

Volunteering Valuable Advice

Based on the highly successful Massachusetts Institute of Technology Venture Mentoring Service, Mizzou VMS will harness the knowledge and experience of highly successful volunteer business and community leaders from the surrounding areas to provide team mentoring to aspiring entrepreneurs within the Mizzou community.

“The Mizzou Venture Mentoring Service is an exciting opportunity for me to participate in the entrepreneurial process as a resource and advisor,” said Teresa Maledy, president and CEO of the Central Missouri Region Commerce Bank and a mentor with Mizzou VMS. “During my 35 years in banking, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different companies, representing a variety of industries. I hope my years of experience and contacts will be of value to the entrepreneurs that start their ventures.”

Lead by co-directors Greg Tucker and Gloria O’Brien, Mizzou VMS will start with 22 founding mentors and will expand as awareness of the service increases.

“The Mizzou VMS mission is fulfilling a need by making a connection for entrepreneurs with successful business and community leaders,” O’Brien said. “Our focus is on building quality relationships between mentors and entrepreneurs.”

Involved Entrepreneurs

Mizzou VMS is a confidential educational program and team mentoring service to support the MU community which is broadly defined as students, faculty, staff, alumni, licensees of the MU Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations, and clients of the Missouri Innovation Center and Small Business Development Centers.

The relationships between mentors and aspiring entrepreneurs are established on the needs and preferences of each participant and the interests and expertise of the available mentors. Meeting frequency and length of participation are determined by the needs of the entrepreneur. Mizzou VMS will hold monthly meetings for mentors and entrepreneurs to promote networking and to build momentum and energy.

For more information about the Mizzou Venture Mentoring Service, please contact MizzouVMS@missouri.edu or by calling 573-882-9582.