The MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) traces its beginnings to a meeting suggested by former MIT provost Robert Brown in 1997 between Alec Dingee, an MIT Sloan School of Management (52) alumnus, and MIT Professor David H. Staelin, at which they found they shared a common vision—to further MIT’s educational mission by providing entrepreneurs within the MIT community with mentoring, advice, and help in developing their enterprises. Each had deep MIT roots (Dave received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the Institute and has been on the faculty since 1965, while Alec has remained closely connected with MIT for several decades following graduation). Each also had extensive experience in starting companies and managing them to success – Dave at Environmental Research & Technology Inc., and PictureTel Corp., and Alec with the Institute for New Enterprise Development, Venture Founders Corp., Geodyne Corp., Massey Dickinson Inc., Nexabit Networks, and Kortec Inc.
From these backgrounds, their vision was developed—built around a shared belief that a fledgling business is far more likely to succeed when an idea, a good business plan, and an entrepreneur are matched with proven experience. With the blessing of the Provost’s Office, they set about developing a structure that could translate their vision into reality. The result is VMS, which was officially launched under the auspices of the MIT Office of the Provost in January 2000.
VMS supports innovation and entrepreneurial activity throughout the MIT community by matching prospective entrepreneurs with skilled volunteer mentors. We use a team mentoring approach with groups of 3 to 4 mentors sitting with a fledgling entrepreneur(s) in sessions that provide practical, day-to-day professional advice and coaching. VMS mentors are selected for their experience in areas relevant to the needs of new entrepreneurs and for their enthusiasm for the program. Mentors are required to subscribe, in writing, to a Statement of Principles that govern their behavior, outline their responsibilities, guard against conflicts of interest, and control financial involvement with the entrepreneurs and their ventures. Relationships between mentors and entrepreneurs are formed based on the needs of the entrepreneur and the interests of available mentors.
VMS assistance is given across a broad range of business activity, including product development, marketing, intellectual property law, finance, human resources, and founders issues.
VMS services are offered without charge to MIT students, alumni, faculty and staff in the Boston area.
VMS complements and works cooperatively with the many MIT centers and programs promoting entrepreneurship and providing many resources to encourage formation of businesses and to move technological knowledge from the laboratory to the marketplace.
- Alec Dingee - Chairman & Co-Founder
Alec Dingee brings extensive experience founding companies to VMS. Previously, he was Chairman and founder of Kortec, Inc., a turn-key co-injection molding systems vendor. In addition, he was the founding CEO of the Institute for New Enterprise Development (founding startup businesses in depressed areas across the U.S.), of the Venture Founders Corporation (start-up venture capital funds), of Geodyne Corporation (oceanographic instuments), and of Massey Dickinson, Inc. (medical instruments). He was also the founding Treasurer and a Director of Nexabit Networks, a vendor of terabit switch routers that was sold to Lucent Technologies in 1999. Dingee is a graduate of MIT and a former instructor at the Sloan School of Management. He is a co-author of New Venture Creation: A Guide to Entrepreneurship (Irwin, 1985).
- Sherwin Greenblatt - Director
From 2005 to 2007, Sherwin Greenblatt served as the executive vice president and treasurer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He retired from Bose Corporation in 2002, where he was the first employee of Dr. Amar Bose, his former professor at MIT. As a project engineer, he worked on the early development of Bose high fidelity loudspeakers and related electronic systems. As the company grew, he held the positions of chief engineer, director of engineering, executive vice president and, for 15 years, president. He is a community and professional leader having been a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, served as Chair of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Framingham (Massachusetts) State College. He currently is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Olin College of Engineering, the Graduate Advisory Board of Babson College and the Corporation of the Draper Laboratory. Mr. Greenblatt holds S.B. and S.M degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT.
- Roberta McCarthy - Operations Manager
Roberta McCarthy joined the MIT VMS in 2001 with over 25 years of financial, administrative and management experience. As Operations Manager she contributes to defining and executing VMS’s mission and strategic direction. She also provides the primary interface for the mentors, keeping them engaged in support of VMS and MIT. Prior to joining VMS, Roberta was Business Manager/Controller of the Institute for New Enterprise Development (developing start-up businesses in depressed areas across the United States), and CFO of Venture Founders Corporation (start-up venture capital funds).
- Michael Foster Co-Director
Michael is a mentor and as a Co-Director, he focuses on the Continuous Improvement of Ongoing VMS Mentoring Operations. He is also active in the VMS Outreach Project. Michael is a graduate chemical engineer with an MBA in international finance. He is retired from Rohm and Haas Company as a Corporate Vice President and President of their $600m Circuit Board Technologies Electronics Materials Business in 2001 after 34 years of service. Prior to his retirement, Mr. Foster held positions of increasing responsibility as Financial Director of Mexico and Central American subsidiaries, along with leadership positions in operations, marketing and mergers and acquisitions. Michael also taught on the subjects of business strategy and mergers and acquisitions at Bentley University and Babson College.
- Peter Miller - Co-Director
Peter Miller is a mentor and as a Co-Director oversees VMS’s coordination with investment sources. Peter has more than thirty years' experience in the entrepreneurial community, beginning by helping found a large local consulting and research firm (Abt Associates) while in the Masters' program at MIT's Sloan School of Management. Peter has worked with several successful software and Internet firms. He has quarterbacked business plan creation and successful fund-raising for six companies; and been board chairman of the International MIT Enterprise Forum. Mr. Miller’s current job is COO of Genomic Healthcare Strategies, a firm focused on strategy and IP in personalized medicine.
- Don Shobrys - Co-Director
Don Shobrys is a mentor and as a Co-director leads the initiative focused on serving our "alumni" entrepreneurs. Don's' career has centered on helping people make better decisions more rapidly, with a particular focus on managing the supply chain of manufacturing companies. He started his career at Exxon. He later became the third employee of Chesapeake Decision Sciences, helped it become a pioneer in supply chain decision support, and ran operations prior to its sale. He has engineering degrees from MIT and Northwestern and a PhD in Operations Research from Johns Hopkins. He has been an exceptional volunteer throughout the Institute, founding the Engineering Systems Division Alumni Advisory Council, cofounding the Friends of DAPER, and serving on the Corporation Development Committee; the Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER) Visiting Committee; the Educational Council and on the MIT Alumni Association Board of Directors. He is a past Chair of the MIT ! Annual Fund and the next President Elect of the MIT Alumni Association. He is the recipient of the Henry B. Kane '24 Award; a Presidential Citation; and the Bronze Beaver, which is the highest honor that the MIT Alumni Association can bestow.
- Jerome Smith - Co-Director
- Jerome Smith is a mentor, and as a Co-Director manages the VMS Outreach Project which provides services to other academic centers and organizations interested in adopting the VMS model as part of their entrepreneurship efforts. Jerome is a seasoned senior executive with over 37 years of leadership experience in the chemical, polymer, medical and imaging industries, and a proven track record as a turnaround specialist at the senior executive level. He transformed four global DuPont businesses from loss or weak earnings positions to become strong, profitable and competitive units. He is recognized as a leader in major national and local non-profit organizations and has led strategic planning and development efforts for large and diverse groups. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas and an MBA from the University of Delaware.
- Louis Goldish - Senior Venture Advisor
Lou Goldish is primarily responsible for intake of new ventures at VMS. He was a founder and Managing Director of the consulting firm Data and Strategies Group and spent 35 years as a management consultant to corporations offering industrial, commercial, and technology based products and services. Prior to joining VMS he was Relationship Manager for a leading supplier of management software for very large databases and data-based enterprise systems. Goldish received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Case Institute of Technology and M.S. degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and Management from MIT.
- Roman Lubynsky - Senior Venture Advisor
Roman Lubynsky is also actively involved in intake and as a staff mentor is available on call for “entrepreneur crises”. He has over 25 years of experience in startups and with growing technology companies. He joined Fasfax Corporation, a pioneer in retail IT systems, when it was a startup, and advanced to Executive Vice President, heading product development, marketing, sales and professional services. In recent years he has founded several new ventures, including a management consulting firm and an e-commerce company. He holds an M.S. in Management of Technology from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
- Maryglenn Vincens Senior Development Associate
Maryglenn Vincens helps the VMS team build the philanthropic support that will secure its future. She has over 25 years experience in fundraising and non-profit management, much of it at MIT. She has been Director of the MIT Parents/Young Alumni program, Director of the MIT Parents Fund, and a member of the Resource Development major-gift field staff, where she developed leadership support among alumni in the SouthWest region during MITs 96-04 Capital Campaign. Most recently she was a development consultant to small non-profit organizations in the Boston area. She received her B.A. and M.B.A. from Simmons College.
- Ariane Martins - Outreach Program Manager
Ariane Martins joined the MIT VMS as Outreach Program Manager in 2013 to help advance the strategic and operational planning for its Outreach Training Program. Ariane has 15 years of experience in project and operations management, focused on large-scale, high-profile music and art projects with a cutting-edge technology component. Ariane has worked extensively on projects developed at the MIT Media Lab, most recently having produced Professor Tod Machover's acclaimed, 2012 Pulitzer Prize-finalist robotic opera Death and the Powers. Ariane has also served as Director of Operations for two MIT Media Lab start-up companies, in which context she was first involved with the MIT VMS as a mentee.
- Liz Wright Office Manager
Liz Wright provides high level office support to the activities of VMS. She is the main interface for the VMS entrepreneurs and is primarily responsible for the enrollment and scheduling process at VMS. She has many years of office administration experience most recently as Program Assistant at the Harvard School of Public Health. Liz holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Simmons College.
- Kathy Briand - Administrative Assistant
Kathy is primarily responsible for all data entry, updates and maintenance of program specific databases and file systems. Kathy received her BA in History from the University of Vermont.