Startup Mentoring in St. Louis
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Just starting your startup? Already started and need some extra guidance? Here are 12 mentoring groups and membership programs to point you in the right direction.
St. Louis has a rich startup ecosystem with many opportunities to grow your company. Some of the most important relationships in your life as a founder will be your mentors- people who can share knowledge, impart wisdom and introduce important connections. But how to find one?
Mentors can come in many forms, including investors, university acceleration programs, seasoned business people who volunteer to help and nonprofit organizations whose mission is to help you navigate the roadmap of entrepreneurship.
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up 12 ways to find a startup mentor in St. Louis (in alphabetical order), with a specific focus on free or low-cost mentorship programs.
BioSTL Fundamentals, administered by BioSTL, is a business coaching program designed to support early, would-be entrepreneurs in the Life Sciences in St. Louis. The program is designed to train and support founders and provides a one-on-one, customized business learning experience for each participant.
The Balsa Foundation
The mission of The BALSA Foundation is to promote social equity and prosperity in the St. Louis region by empowering first-time entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. They fulfill this by maintaining an online, step-by-step guide to starting a business, providing free feedback from experts to anyone with a business idea and providing cash grants, mentorship and donations of professional services to first-time entrepreneurs who need and will benefit from them the most.
Gateway Venture Mentoring Service (GVMS)
Gateway Venture Mentoring Service (GVMS) was established in 2007 as one of the St. Louis region’s first entrepreneur service organizations. GVMS, originally IVMS, is built on the MIT VMS model, which is a team mentoring approach to helping emerging companies establish themselves and grow.
Grace Hill Women’s Business Center
The Grace Hill Women’s Business Center partners with other institutions and community organizations to offer a variety of programs and services to further individuals’ aims of entrepreneurship. The Center focuses on women and minorities in under-resourced communities across the St. Louis region and offers an in-depth 16-week business development training (called Workshop in Business Opportunities, or WIBO). T
he program helps students develop the basic structure for their business plan, including cornerstone analytical tools that develop and sustain financial decision-making. Grace Hill also offers one-on-one business counseling and a business legal clinic.
IL Metro East Small Business Development Center at SIUE & EAST STL
The Small Business Development Center network provides one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. The network assists entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success.
Read more here.
International Institute of St. Louis
The International Institute of St. Louis offers comprehensive adjustment services for refugees and immigrants in our community. The Institute provides workshops for entrepreneurs, startups, businesses that need strengthening or ones that are looking to expand their goods and services.
Read more here.
ITEN, St. Louis’ entrepreneur support organization that works to catalyze St. Louis’ IT startup ecosystem offers several mentorship opportunities. As a member of ITEN (it’s free to join), you get a range of benefits, including access to ITEN’s high-level business mentors and access to ITEN’s incubator programs that are built to help you prepare your company for investor consideration.
Its acceleration programs include Business Model Validation, Mock Angel Program, Corporation Engagement, Mentor Match and Entrepreneur in Residence Program (EIR). Read more about each of these programs here.
Missouri Venture Forum (MVF)
As a membership organization, Missouri Venture Forum (MVF) serves entrepreneurs through peer networking, topical education and access to capital resources. The organization is geared toward individuals leading the growth of earlier stage businesses, and attracts members and resources whose mission is to support entrepreneurs and grow new businesses.
With monthly events and other programming, the group engages its community of entrepreneurs, investors, inventors and service providers and encourages its members to eagerly share their knowledge and resources to help build a strong regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Get more information here.
SCORE is a national network of volunteer business mentors that provide free answers to your business questions. The SCORE Association, supported by SBA, is a nonprofit association of thousands of volunteer business counselors throughout the U.S. and its territories.
SCORE members are trained to serve as counselors, advisors and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners. There are multiple ways to work with a SCORE mentor, from a virtual mentorship model where you communicate by email to online workshops and in-person meetings.
Square One (SQ1)
Square One is CET’s (Center for Emerging Technologies) flagship program for entrepreneurs. It’s a hands-on training program designed to provide support to early-stage and first-time business owners in the St. Louis region actively engaged in the development of a BioTech, IT or advanced manufacturing or consumer product enterprise.
There are two programs, SQ1 Ignite, which is a four-week program created to help founders quick-start their business model validation process, and SQ1 Bootcamp, a 10-week program that is much more in-depth and combines formal instruction with hands-on learning, networking and mentoring.
For a list of accelerator programs, which combine both funding and mentorship, see our St. Louis Startup Accelerator Guide.