Business leaders as mentors

The Imperial Venture Mentoring Service (IVMS) was launched in September 2017 to provide College staff and student entrepreneurs with unbiased and expert advice on realising their business idea by developing a startup company.

In its first year, the scheme has recruited 34 high-profile, successful entrepreneurs and investors as mentors, most of whom are actively employed. They have worked on a pro-bono basis with 14 ventures that have pitched at the monthly mentor meetings to be matched with their mentors for impartial business advice.

Modelled on the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, the Imperial scheme has been set up to secure high standards of participation from ventures and mentors alike, and is closely aligned to the academic mission of the College, by supporting the translation of ideas into benefits for society.

Ideal applicants in the first year of IVMS have been those that have already shaped their initial business idea by participating in one of the College’s core entrepreneurship programmes, such as Venture Catalyst Challenge, WE Innovate, or Techcelerate.

IVMS progress is being tracked in several ways, including broad performance measures of the ventures, as well as satisfaction of mentors and mentees, retention and growth of the mentor pool, and scale of interest from prospective mentees.

“I personally was attracted to the idea of helping highly trained and talented people founding technology startups out of a world class institution”, says serial entrepreneur Dr Paul Atherton (Physics 1978), who was instrumental in setting up IVMS, and now directs the scheme.

“We are here to help everyone who has the energy and guts to try, from the established professor to the first year student. We have got off to a flying start and I am very excited about the level of interest from prospective mentors and the flow of amazing new ideas coming through.”

From left: Mohit Devgan and Pashiini Supramanian from student startup QuickCount meet IVMS mentors Dominiqe Klein and Paul Dowling.

From left: Mohit Devgan and Pashiini Supramanian from student startup QuickCount meet IVMS mentors Dominiqe Klein and Paul Dowling.

IVMS in numbers 2017–18

  • 34 high profile mentors recruited
  • 70+ mentoring hours have taken place
  • 14 active ventures receiving mentoring
  • venture graduated from IVMS
  • £1m+ private funding raised since January 2018
  • competitions won, with prize funding and support worth over £500,000
  • ventures have taken up office and laboratory space in the Imperial White City Incubator