Why EIR at UMSL?

Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) is a program, powered by UMSL Accelerate, that gives all University of Missouri – St. Louis students, faculty, and community members the opportunity to receive mentorship from professionals in the field on how to turn ideas from mind to market. This program is open to individuals of all majors and backgrounds. It doesn’t matter if you are pursuing a science, nursing or business degree. As long as you have an idea with a desire to turn it into the next best thing, you are eligible to take advantage of this program!

Over time, it has been proven that mentors can have a very large impact on the success of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur magazine states that “When business owners are mentored, 70 percent of their businesses live past five years — double the survival rate of non-mentored small businesses.” When we saw data like this, we wanted to figure out a way to connect the UMSL students who have ideas to mentors who have experience bringing ideas to market. Last semester we created our Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) program to do this, and it was a great success. We were able to mentor over 30 students, and have over 60 mentor sessions. This far exceeded our goals, and at the end of the semester we sat down to evaluate what was good, bad or indifferent about the program so that we could improve it for this semester. After doing that analysis, we came up with three key points that helped students the most.

Three of the greatest things that mentors can help provide to students through EIR are:

  1. Experience: Mentors are able to pass on the experiences they have had to their mentees. This helps the mentees to avoid some of the many problems that lie in the way of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur magazine states that this is probably the largest benefit of having a mentor “A good mentor helps you think through a business idea, suggests ways to generate that startup capital and provides the experience and savvy you’re missing.”
  2. Accountability: Sometimes when you are start a business, it is difficult to hold yourself accountable to your goals. When you have classes, work and want to hangout with friends, it is very difficult to set goals let alone hold yourself accountable to them. Mentors are able to help you set reasonable and actionable goals for yourself and your business, and will then help you stay accountable to these goals so that you can keep progressing.
  3. Support: Being an entrepreneur and starting a business is not easy, if it was easy, everyone would do it! Mentors understand how difficult this process is, and can provide many war stories that can give perspective can help you stay on course even when things are very difficult.

Endeavour Insight Analysis did a study of the effects of mentorship on startups in New York City, and found some amazing results. “As the chart below illustrates, 33 percent of founders who are mentored by successful entrepreneurs went on to become top performers. This is over three times better than the performance of other New York-based tech companies.”

Building a successful business is incredibly difficult, 9 out of every 10 startups fail. Those are very daunting stats to look at. However, if there is a way to improve your success rate by 3 times, UMSL accelerate want to provide it! (and we hope that students want to take advantage of it).

We know that not every student who has an idea will turn it into a billion dollar company. However, our hope is that if students have the idea and the dream to turn it into a billion dollar company, then through the EIR program we will be able to increase the probability of that happening. Who knows, maybe one of the great students we met last year is going to grow their business to be a unicorn, or maybe the person who is reading this and scheduling their EIR meeting will do it.

If you have an idea and want to get it vetted by experienced entrepreneurs and have mentorship to help you grow this idea, sign up to an EIR session. The worst that could happen is getting to have a great conversation, and maybe the best that could happen is starting a billion dollar company.

In our next blog post, we will go through what happens during an EIR meeting and give some examples from participants of how their mentor have helped them.

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