Venture Mentoring Service

What We Do

The University of Alberta Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) supports all members of the UAlberta community (students, faculty, staff and alumni). Our program is modelled after the highly successful Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) VMS program. We’re focused on cultivating strong and capable entrepreneurs by coaching and guiding them through their challenges so that they own their decisions, rather than relying on others for answers.

There is growing interest in entrepreneurship and innovation here in Alberta and our university community is no exception. UAlberta students and alumni have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, and VMS is meant to provide these entrepreneurs with the guidance and mentorship to get themselves, and their venture, to the next level.


Who is VMS Right For?

Regardless of what industry you are in, profit or non-profit, UAlberta VMS can help. Our entrepreneurs operate in a diverse range of sectors such as software, advertising, retail food, transportation, health and fitness, clothing apparel, agricultural technologies and many others. As a VMS participant, you need to be an active entrepreneur in a high-impact venture that’s scalable and growing, with the entrepreneur and venture based in the Edmonton region. We have the depth of experience in our mentor pool to work with both newly operating companies and more mature ventures that are working toward taking their business to the next level of growth.


How VMS Works

VMS places our entrepreneurs with a team of three to five volunteer mentors from our business community, who provide ongoing guidance through structured meetings (there is no term limit and ventures are welcome to stay in the program as long as they are operating and getting value from their Mentors). Our mentors have significant experience in various aspects of growing a business, are seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities, and have a desire to engage with passionate entrepreneurs across a diverse range of ventures.

Whether you are an entrepreneur in need of guidance, or have experience that can contribute as a mentor to their growth, VMS may be right for you. We invite you to join us as we develop strong leaders capable of building successful businesses that will make an impact on our community and beyond!


Our Philosophy

Our philosophy of mentorship comes from the training provided to our mentors through the Roy Group. It is rooted in the idea that the term “mentor” is a noun — one that is gifted from one person to another to recognize the role they have played in their development.

Mentors have three tools available to them for providing such guidance:

  • Coaching: “What are the different options for distributing equity to new hires? What would be some milestones that would signify success or failure of each option?”
  • Instructing: “Here is an example of what a good share vesting clause looks like.”
  • Advising: “Based on my experience, you should consider vesting equity to the new hire. Otherwise you might run into trouble if things don’t work out.”

Effective mentors are able to use all three of these tools and shift between them when appropriate. The UAlberta VMS program places more emphasis on coaching, which encourages entrepreneurs to figure out and own the solutions to their challenges. The mentors provide vision through sharing stories of past experiences, helping the entrepreneurs find and focus on the big picture. They challenge the entrepreneurs through coaching and feedback, asking relevant and meaningful questions, and provide honest support through being a neutral third party with no vested interests in the venture.