What is GVMS?
Gateway Venture Mentoring Service  (GVMS) is an entrepreneur support organization whose primary goal is to “facilitate a successful environment for entrepreneurship in the Greater St. Louis region.” We do this in one of two ways:

  • Through networking and team-based volunteer mentoring
  • Through referrals to the most appropriate Entrepreneur Support Organization (ESO)
    • For more on St. Louis’s ESO community, visit VentureSTL.

How does GVMS work?
After receiving an online application from potential entrepreneurs, we review it to determine if the business venture needs mentoring with GVMS or if we should refer the organization elsewhere within the network of over 30 St Louis based (ESO’s)

Is GVMS a non-profit?
Yes. GVMS is an approved 501 (c)(3) organization.

How does GVMS mentoring work?
If a business venture appears to be a good candidate for mentoring, we first schedule an Intake Session with the business venture and a few of our mentors to get to know the entrepreneur and business. If it’s determined to be a good fit with the venture, GVMS then builds a core mentoring team of serial entrepreneurs and business professionals to support that entrepreneur in their endeavors.

That core mentoring team guides the venture through the validation of his/her business model and challenges ongoing assumptions to strengthen the sales pitch and accelerate the growth of the startup.

Specialized GVMS mentors are available to supplement the core mentoring team by providing guidance in the specific fields of legal, accounting, banking, and marketing.

What tools do GVMS mentors use with ventures?
We introduce ventures to the Business Model Canvas to help them optimize their idea and learn how to build a successful business around their product or service.

Our mentors listen and provide honest feedback. Both serial entrepreneurs and seasoned business professionals are the best gift an entrepreneur can receive.  People that have been down the road you’re traveling.  People that have specialty expertise to help you ask and answer the hard questions.

How is GVMS different than others services in STL?

  • GVMS isn’t primarily about helping the entrepreneur find funding. Rather, the organization utilizes a broad range of professionals from both the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds who donate their time to help guide the applicant through the entire business model validation process. This usually starts with assistance in putting together a tight, focused business plan, stressing the importance of this as a vital tool for determining, refining and managing the strategic as well as economic objectives for the company. Entrepreneurs must have at least some semblance of a plan before being accepted into the program.
  • We furthermore assist the mentee in steering the startup through the various minefields that exist between startup and operational profitability. These include intellectual property issues if relevant, and also legal, sales and marketing, engineering and operational challenges.
  • GVMS works with entrepreneurs from all sectors, including manufacturing and consumer products in addition to all of the tech and healthcare sectors[CL1] .
  • Our mentors represent a broad cross section of the business community, and our objective is to work with the entrepreneur in structuring and building their company from the start in order to maximize their chance for success. This in turn helps them when the time comes to raise capital, where we also assist in determining where, how, and what sort of capital best suits their near and long term needs[CL2] . All of these value propositions work cohesively for the benefit of the entrepreneur who otherwise would not likely have access to such a diverse pool of top tier talent.

How many local entrepreneurs are impacted by GVMS?
As of 2012, GVMS reviewed 718 start up companies, and mentored 187.

How are GVMS ventures performing?
Collectively the scale of GVMS ventures is sizable. The combined revenue is over $42Million, employment stands at 800 positions, payroll is over $16Million and debt is $14 billion.

Fifteen companies reported revenue of $250K – $1M, and six companies reported revenue over $1M.

Does GVMS specialize or assist a particular kind of venture?
We help a wide range of ventures, from retail to life science, not-for-profit to industrial. About half of our ventures were founded by women or minorities.

I have a business idea, how do I engage with GVMS?
Submit your idea here.  We will then contact you to review your submission.

How are the ideas and intellectual property of venture protected when they engage with GVMS?
All GVMS mentors have a NDA document on file in the main office protecting your information and creating a confidential environment.

I’m interested in becoming a mentor, how do I pursue that?
Submit an application here.  A team of our mentors will review it.  If we feel you are a fit based on your background, we will set up an interview to tell you more about our organization and assess the overall fit.

Is there a cost to call or meet with GVMS?
Historically and at present there is no cost.

Why do busy professionals volunteer their time to be a mentor?
Our mentors simply enjoy nurturing and being part of the entrepreneurial process, and they enjoy giving back to the community.

How is GVMS funded?
We have a minimal operating budget funded primarily by generous donors and private nonprofits. We are independent and not affiliated with any one organization.