Below, you can find commonly asked questions about our programs and mentoring:
What stage of company do you work with?
We predominantly work with early stage startups that have not yet raised a Series A round. However, each program differs based upon the sector, geography, and strategic partners. For a more specific answer, check out the program page that you are interested in joining.
Generally, we find companies that get the most out of our programs tend to:
Where are the workshops located?
Each program is structured to be an intensive, sprint-like experience in order to provide founders with productive periods of time to step away from their day-to-day routine and reflect upon the assumptions and bigger questions they need to address in order to be successful.
We typically host each workshop within a program in a different city to give founders exposure to new markets and people. We bring our founders to cities that have a high density of investors and strategic partners within a sector.
In some cases, we host virtual workshops allowing founders to participate without having to travel. In a virtual setting, founders engage with their fellow cohort members online. We invite mentors, investors and strategic partners to join remotely ensuring productive, targeted time together.
For more information, visit our current programs page.
What do you teach in your programs?
Simply put: we never want an entrepreneur to hear they’re too early for an investor without knowing exactly why.
Our programs focus on investment readiness, helping founding teams focus on the most important next milestones that can unlock their growth. To do this, we developed a proprietary methodology called VIRAL (Venture Investment Readiness and Awareness Levels) designed by interviewing tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and investors to understand and translate the specific milestones an investor wants to see before making an investment. This framework is meant to help founders think more strategically about what to prioritize and understand the types of funding and partnerships to seek in order to level up their businesses.
Who are our mentors?
Mentors cover a wide range of sectors, functional experience, and backgrounds. Our goal is to connect founders with experienced founders, investors, corporate leaders, and strategic partners who can offer insight into specific challenges they are facing. This could include anything from advice on how to build a successful team to helping strategize about exit strategies. While most of our mentors are interested in working with a specific sector of the company, plenty of mentors join several programs.
Some VilCap mentors use it as a way to get to know our early-stage pipeline in a low-stakes yet targeted environment. Some mentors use it as a way to get to know Village Capital more before partnering with us on their own program. And some mentors just understand the struggles of being an early-stage founder and want to lend their time and expertise to help out.
How is mentorship structured?
Unlike other programs, a Village Capital program does not structure mentorship in a one-on-one setting; this is because we want our founders to have structured, targeted time with lots of mentors before continuing a longer-term relationship beyond our program.
Mentors are asked to join a session (or two, or more!) specific to a topic or strategic issue. For instance, we may invite mentors to a session on market mapping where mentors are asked to spend targeted time on evaluating and giving feedback on a founder’s market size, ability to capture their market, and analysis of investability into that market. In this case, we would bring in mentors who have some specific experience doing just that from later-stage founders who have done it for their own ventures to sector-specific investors who spend time sizing certain markets for their potential investments.
Mentors are pre-paired with companies based on both founders’ and mentors’ requests and VilCap’s expert suggestions. We send mentors prep in advance to review all of the cohort companies, details on their businesses, and information about the goals of the session and layout. For a few sessions, we only invite accredited investors and provide an even more detailed overview of their financials.
We provide contact information to both sides and encourage organic relationship-building. We also facilitate requested additional connections. We ask both parties to send us feedback on the session, the companies and mentors, to consistently improve sessions.
Is anyone NOT considered for VilCap mentorship?
Just as we look for founders with “lived experience” with the problem their companies are working to solve, we also look for mentors with “lived experience” solving the problem they have been asked to mentor for. If there is a subject that a mentor feels particularly apt to advise on, we work to find the right session for them. We work hard to not bring mentors to the table who have not worked within that specific business problem or sector themselves.
After each workshop, we ask our founders to rate each mentor on their interaction and usefulness. We value our founders’ time and take the feedback from each founder seriously, adjusting our mentor pool and selection for following workshops and programs.