MTC Venture Mentoring Program

An Open Letter to our Members and Community Constituents Seeking Leaders:

The Maryland Tech Council (MTC), in partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, has decided to start a team mentoring program to help the technology and life sciences community that we serve.  I seek your participation and leadership in this new venture, which has been successfully implemented in other regions throughout the nation.  We are looking specifically for someone who has successfully built a business in this community and who would be willing, on a part-time volunteer basis, to share that expertise with new entrepreneurs as the leader of this mentoring program.  This letter provides some preliminary thinking on how we would like the program to work and how we anticipate you would participate in developing this program.

About the program.  A workgroup of community leaders has identified the MIT Venture Mentoring Service as the basis for this mentoring program.  Over the past 20 years, MIT developed a mentoring program that matches community experts with entrepreneurs in need of expertise and advice to grow their businesses.  The program offers a series of proven guidelines to: (1) identify and train mentors; (2) identify mentee entrepreneurs; and (3) direct the process to match and share knowledge.  The program has proven to be successful in at least 25 areas around the country and abroad.  The Council for Entrepreneurial Development in the Research Triangle in North Carolina and the Chicago Innovation Mentors in Illinois are two examples that we have studied.  Their websites are www.cednc.org and www.chicagoinnovationmentors.org, respectively.

The program will operate largely on a volunteer basis with funding and operational support from MTC.  Montgomery County Department of Economic Development has agreed to cover the start-up expenses during the first year.  We have confirmed funding available in the amount of $50,000 for the first year. MTC will raise the rest through its membership and the larger community focused on improving our innovation economy.  It is our plan to start with 10-15 mentors and 6- 10 companies in the first year of operation as a proof of concept.  Target companies are entrepreneurial companies in the life sciences and technology space in early but not the earliest stages of development.  Our efforts will take these companies from initial angel funding to Series A as a starting point for the program. The MIT program offers the metrics for success in terms of program completion, company growth and job growth.  The workgroup is in the process of developing a complete business plan.  The program will operate as a program of MTC, but with a Board of Advisors selected from within the community.  We are asking you to serve as the volunteer leader of the Board of Advisors.

About the Job.  A job description is enclosed.  We see this as largely a leadership role and an opportunity to give back to the community through leveraging your leadership into this mentorship model.  We have already identified the team of active mentors and contributors to help develop the program.  We anticipate this leadership position will take the equivalent of 1-2 days per month of personal time, but spread over the month and under your control in terms of when to contribute.  In the early start-up months, we are asking the leader to attend a 2.5 day immersion training program at MIT with the lead mentors and me.  We expect to attend the training program in late May.  The MIT training program will provide us with key mentoring skills to augment our individual expertise and training on how to manage the mentoring program.  We also expect that the leader will have a public facing role as we announce and showcase the program.  So interviews and a few speaking engagements locally would be part of the role at the outset.

Those that have successfully led a business in this community have the key mix of business expertise, industry expertise and leadership skills to make this a successful program.  While it is a volunteer position, I believe it will provide opportunities to engage with entrepreneurs and with other community leaders. The MTC CEO will work with the leader on this program.  While it is well defined and we believe relatively easy to lead and manage because of that definition offered in the MIT model, we can shape this together to address the community needs as we grow the program. Your input would be highly valued.

Please take some time to consider this opportunity and let us answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.  The MTC CEO and members of the work group are also available to talk with you at any point. 

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

To express your interest, please email to mentor@mdtechcouncil.com include your LinkedIn profile and any thoughts you may have.  We will contact you to discuss.