The Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) of the University of Luxembourg Incubator successfully completed its pilot. More than 20 dedicated mentors, high-level professionals in their fields, have accompanied startups created at the University for months with advice and assistance.
Among the early stage ventures is Food4All, one of the shooting stars in the Luxembourgish startup ecosystem. The founders of the startup fighting food waste are both alumni of the University of Luxembourg. Since the creation of Food4All, Ilana Devillers and Xénia Ashby have earned a lot of recognition: they were awarded the CYEL “Coup de Coeur” prize, gained admission to the Fit4Start acceleration programme, and won the Social Impact competition at ArchSummit.
The Incubator’s VMS programme addresses a real need. A strong team with complementary skills counts among the key success factors for startups. How, then, do solo entrepreneurs and startups with a small team find their way to the top? Especially when their members cannot rely on years of experience in the field of business they want to work in? This is usually the case when students start their company while still finishing their Bachelor or Master.
For the students of the University of Luxembourg, the three to five mentors who join the startup teams on a pro bono basis provide the missing pieces of the puzzle in terms of support. The regular meetings of mentors and mentees challenge the entrepreneurs to study areas that are new to them and crucial to their business. They also provide the mentees with valuable contacts, since the mentors come with a strong network which they are happy to share.
With the right support, success is not long in coming: three of the ventures supported by the VMS won prizes at the innovation pitch contest Falling Walls Lab Luxembourg – NIUM (founder Alberto Noronha), MeGeno (Varvara Markina, Brand Marketing Manager) and GoldenMe (co-founder Mara Kroth). CheckMath (co-founder Himadri Pathak) was awarded 1st prize at the INCO acceleration programme by Technoport.
The VMS programme of the University of Luxembourg is a sister programme of the prestigious MIT Venture Mentoring Service that has more than 60 VMS sister programmes worldwide.
This communication was first published 13 June 2019 by the University of Luxembourg.