Venture Mentoring Service (VMS)


Team-based mentoring for startup founders and entrepreneurs. Founders are matched with 3-4 mentors who meet regularly for nine months as a team to provide mentorship and guidance.


Interested in becoming a mentor?



Founders of a startup, at any stage, are welcome to apply. Our preference is to work with startups that are past the idea stage and ready to work on implementation.

Successful early-stage applicants have:

  • Participated in a business formation program
    • Venture School
    • ISU Startup Factory
    • CYstarters
  • Have outlined a business plan or commercialization plan and are ready to execute on it, but need help getting started


VMS can help more advanced businesses as well. Scaling and growth-stage companies can benefit from the experiences of a short-term advisory group geared toward a specific goal, like preparing for raising capital.


ISU VMS is open to anyone, regardless of their connection to Iowa State University.



  • Customer acquisition strategy
  • Product-market-fit
  • Planning for hiring/growth/scaling
  • Preparation for outside investment
  • Move from planning to execution
  • Seeing around corners
  • Plus more!



  1. APPLY: Venture completes the Application Materials, send to
    1. One-Pager
    2. Inbound Venture Attributes (Venture Snapshot)


  1. INTERVIEW: Program staff from ISU VMS will interview incoming founders and help clarify any murky points in their materials


  1. ONCE CLEARED: Application Materials are distributed to ISU VMS pool in a bi-monthly email


  1. Q&A: During a bi-monthly ISU VMS Mentor call, the incoming ventures are discussed, and founders may participate in a Q&A with mentors at the end of the call (10-15min)


  1. MATCH: Mentors volunteer to work with the venture. No more than 2 mentors will be assigned initially.


  1. MEET: First Meeting agenda is proscriptive with the objective to:
    1. Mentors/Founders get to know each other
    2. Go through Pitch and Commercialization Plan and other materials
    3. Review Venture Milestones/SMART Goals for 9-month VMS engagement
    4. Determine mentor/founder expectations, goals, and meeting cadence (be sure to schedule your next meeting!)


  1. GROW THE TEAM: Additional mentors may be added after 2-3 initial meetings, based on founder/mentor request.
  2. EVALUATE: At the nine-month mark, ISU VMS program staff will conduct interviews with ventures and mentors to determine progress, impact, and whether additional time in the program is needed.

Check out the ISU VMS Roles and Responsibilities and ISU VMS Venture FAQ for more information.

Contact the ISU VMS team for more information about joining as a founder, or to sign up for an introductory call.



Ideal mentors have:

  • A founder-first approach
  • A coaching mentality
  • Prior mentorship experience or a desire to give back
  • Startup or entrepreneurial experience
  • Investing experience
  • An area of technical or subject-matter expertise (IE Legal, Marketing, Product etc.)


  • Able to commit to 1-2hours each month
  • Agree to abide by ISU VMS Code of Ethics, Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality policies (shared during interview)

Are you a business or industry generalist with experience and a desire to give back? We’d like to talk with you too.


No affiliation with Iowa State University is needed.


Connect with the ISU VMS Program team by scheduling a time to discuss your interest here.