Jessica Straus

by & filed under Corporate Venture, Diversity, NVCA Blog.

A thriving innovation ecosystem depends on building diverse and competitive teams. Competing for top talent is one of the biggest challenges facing venture capital and corporate venture capital teams. These challenges beg the question: How can venture investors keep up with the increased demand for top talent? Mentorship programs are one of the proven ways to attract and retain top talent, which foster both individual talent development and team competitiveness, diversity, and development.

This year, the NVCA Corporate Venture Group (CVG) launched the Corporate Venture Mentorship Program in the first quarter of 2017 to build connections between experienced and new corporate venture investors. This pilot program helped forge new connections among corporate venture investors across the country to foster a more engaged innovation ecosystem.

Our pilot program matched 30 mentors with 30 mentees from among NVCA’s Corporate Venture membership. The pairs were matched based on industry alignment and were required to have at least two meetings over the course of the quarter. All mentors were General Partners, or equivalent, while mentees held a range of roles from General Partner to Associate.

Mentorship programs can serve an important role in fostering greater inclusion on teams.  Our 2016 NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey found a meaningful difference in the number of women working at VC and CVC firms with mentorship programs compared to firms without such programs.

VC/CVCs without mentorship programs have 29% women on their teams. VC/CVCs with mentorship programs have 45% women on their teams.
  

Mentors are mission driven; mentees benefit from feedback, connections

So, what did the 60 participants in our pilot mentorship program experience? We conducted a survey to find out. This week, Paul Sestili, General Partner at Rogers Venture Partners and Chair of the NVCA Corporate Venture Group, presented on the results of the NVCA Corporate Venture Mentorship Program survey at the Global Corporate Venturing (GCV) Symposium, an event for global corporate venturing professionals.

 

Our survey showed that mentors were motivated to participate in the program support the next-generation of corporate venture investors and to give back to their community. The mentees participated to gain advice, connections, and feedback from experienced VC professionals. Over the course of the program, mentorship pairs met twice, on average, over the course of the first quarter. Phone calls were the most common way the mentoring partners interacted. The most important characteristic for mentors and mentees was intention: all participants wanted to be part of a group that would be committed to the mentoring relationship.

Sestili also discussed the shared benefits that both mentors and mentees found from the program. The best outcomes for mentees were finding new connections, building a relationship with someone who could provide advice, and gaining new confidence in their career trajectory. Mentors found a great deal of satisfaction and increased enthusiasm from helping young CVCs and sharing experiences with them.

“I participated as a mentee to learn more from experienced professionals and get career advice.”

“With less than three years in the VC industry, I am always looking to learn more and to make new connections.”

“I mentored to help others flourish in the VC space.”

“Very important to me that all CVCs have access to as much education, knowledge and networking as possible.”

We also received helpful feedback from the mentor/mentee participants on how to change or improve future mentorship programs, including developing in-person events to create a network among all mentorship program participants and further aligning individuals by industry and region.

“Host one big event for all mentors-mentees to get together so you could meet all of the pairs.”

“Provide a list of all the other mentors so we are part of some alumni group and can benefit from each others learnings.”

“I thought the whole experience was great. Kudos to the NVCA”

We welcome further conversations about how we can continue to develop the next-generation of corporate VCs, and the NVCA Corporate Venture Group looks forward to continuing to serve the corporate venture ecosystem through mentorship and programming.