Western Mass Founders Network

Program Overview

VISION

The Western Mass Founders Network supports high-growth start-ups in Western Massachusetts with a curated peer-to-peer and experienced mentor network.  The network is designed to create a virtous cycle for scaling executives where they have access to resources in Western Massachusetts, embedding them in the local eceonomy.  The shared experience of the peer-to-peer network creates an anchor for fellow entrepreneurs and contributed to a robust and diverse mentor network with rich experience.


OBJECTIVES

The Founders Network will achieve its vision and will:

  • Assist local high-growth potential companies in growing.
  • Expand job opportunities.
  • Establish supplied/vendor relationships in Western Massachusetts.
  • Educate a mentor network with key competencies to develop their skills.
  • Create peer-to-peer learning environment.
  • Provide specialized expert mentors to regional start-ups normally only available to start-ups in global tech hubs.

PROJECT TEAM

  • Western Mass Economic Development Council
  • Meristem Partners
  • FORGE
  • Berkshire Innovation Center

PROGRAM

  • Creation of a mentor network in Western Massachusetts that enables local entrepreneurs to have access to world-class expert mentors.
  • Primary mentor(s) that meet briefly with participating companies at least once a month. Meetings are designed to identify the potential mentoring needs of the founder and quickly support them with resources and connections to keep moving forward. Primary mentors can provide expert mentoring and conduct ongoing needs assessments. Scale Up seeks to find additional mentors who can address the specific needs of the founders.
  • Mentors are volunteers screened to ensure that they understand the goals of the program, and do not sell advisory services to Scale Up participants.
  • Value add expert mentoring will occur 4-6 times over the course of the nine months for each founder participant.
  • Training and ongoing professional development sessions are scheduled for the primary mentors, with expert mentors invited to participate. Sessions seek to provide a network among the mentors, enable the mentors to improve their skills, and for founder participants to come to the mentor monthly meeting to practice presenting and brainstorm opportunities for their business.
  • Monthly topics for strengthening mentor skills include the following:
    • Diversity and Inclusion
    • Goal setting
    • Active Listening
    • Providing feedback
    • The entrepreneurial ecosystem and how to assist participants to leverage programs within the community
  • Monthly peer-to-peer meetings including a speaker on topics chosen by the participating founder and a facilitated discussion on issues individual members are facing (see identified topics below). We have found participation in peer-to-peer sessions is highly valued by founders and positively correlated to entrepreneurial success, and we hope will add in the “stickiness” of companies to Western Mass.

PARTICIPATING COMPANIES

  • DisruptAR
  • Elateq
  • IdleSmart
  • Marcella
  • Medzu / TickReport
  • OmPractice
  • QuatroMoney
  • QuikCord
  • SISS:  Send It Safe Solutions
  • Solablock
  • Superfrau
  • Sustaine
  • Tumult Labs
  • United Aircarft Technologies
  • ZWraps
© 2020, Berkshire Innovation Center

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