Jackson Hole, WY News

Silicon Couloir’s new venture mentorship program, created in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been awarded a $38,000 rural business development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The money, announced Thursday, will jump-start the program and pay for Silicon Couloir’s staff training at MIT.

“After serving for almost two years as the Silicon Couloir director, it became clear to me that the one missing element in our support of local entrepreneurship was ongoing, structured mentorship,” Silicon Couloir Executive Director Scott Fitzgerald said. “I believe this program will be the mortar that holds together the bricks of our existing programming.”

Unlike traditional mentorship programs, the MIT Venture program is focused on team mentorship, pairing a group of two to three mentors with a team of executives looking to grow their business with the help of experienced entrepreneurs.

Six Silicon Couloir employees will be taught the guiding principles of the program that assure unbiased advice to entrepreneurs, team mentoring methodology, best practices for selecting and retaining highly qualified and committed volunteer mentors, eligibility and selection criteria for mentees, detailed processes and procedures to ensure success of the program and program evaluation criteria and metrics.

After the training Silicon Couloir’s staff will immediately begin structuring the new program, recruiting mentors and vetting potential mentees.

Mentors’ careers represent a wide range of experience, such as founders, CEOs, chief technical officers or executives of companies with entrepreneurial experience and contacts in a range of industries and markets.

Though only six companies will be chosen to participate in the program’s first year, Fitzgerald hopes to welcome upwards of 20 businesses in the future.

Those hoping to become a mentee can contact Fitzgerald at scott@siliconcouloir.com. The program is expected to begin in October.

“I see this program as a key component of our work to help support the growth of nontourism-based companies in the Tetons,” said Silicon Couloir board member Nathan Adams.

“Companies that have a real shot at creating higher than average wages and meaningful career paths for members of our community.”

Contact John Spina at 732-5911, town@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGtown.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

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