LARAMIE — Budding entrepreneurs across Wyoming will have access to experienced mentors through a new network being launched by the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) and the University of Wyoming’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE).
The High Plains Mentor Network is intended to increase the chances of success of Wyoming entrepreneurs in their startup endeavors, providing cost-free guidance from those with experience in launching successful ventures.
“We will draw upon mentors from within Wyoming and the broader UW alumni network outside of the state to find successful entrepreneurs who want to ‘give back,’” says Peter Scott, entrepreneur in residence in the IIE and UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. “These sorts of programs have worked well around the country, and Wyoming and UW have plenty of successful individuals whose expertise can be tapped — as well as people who can benefit from that knowledge and experience.”
Those interested in serving as mentors — or needing mentoring and coaching — can learn more and apply at www.uwyo-iie.org/mentor.
Mentors should have significant experience relevant to startups; be willing to invest significant time for three to six months; be altruistic and interested in giving back; and not expect compensation. They’ll generally fall under three categories:
• Startup or role model mentor — a person who has successfully started and grown a company.
• Industry mentor — a person with industry-specific experience and networks.
• Knowledge or functional mentor — a person with a specific set of business skills.
Those signing up to be mentored should be new venture founders who are beyond the concept stage; be actively working (not necessarily full-time) to develop the businesses; and have invested time or money in the ventures.
The network will endeavor to match an entrepreneur with mentors who are from a similar industry as the startup company and who have diverse skill sets, such as marketing, finance and fundraising.
“The relationships will last for three to six months and help the entrepreneur chart a course through the difficult process of starting a company,” says Vivian Georgalas, the WBC’s entrepreneurial services coordinator. “The relationships will focus on both the development of the entrepreneur and the success of the startup.”
All mentors and entrepreneurs will be interviewed by the High Plains Mentor Network advisory board, which will evaluate and match the individuals. Meetings will take place at least once per month, in person or via distance technology.
The initial advisory board consists of Scott; Georgalas; Scot Rendall, director of UW’s Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC) in Sheridan; Director Dave Bohling and Assistant Director Fred Schmechel of the WTBC in Laramie; and Jack Mason, chief operating officer of the IIE.
The IIE’s vision is to foster innovation and entrepreneurship among UW students, faculty and staff, and across the state — and to serve as an intellectual engine to grow and diversify the state’s economy. To learn more, go to www.uwyo-iie.org.
The WBC is the state’s economic development agency, working with private businesses, state agencies, local governments, local economic development groups, partners and nonprofits to grow and diversify Wyoming’s economy, create jobs and enhance quality of life. To learn more, go to www.wyomingbusiness.org.