I was already fully bought-in on the value of the VMS (Venture Mentoring Service) program, but the latest VMS session for Greek’s Catering & Events really brought home why it’s so special.
is a free program based on the highly acclaimed model developed and used at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It pairs a budding entrepreneur with a team of 3-5 experienced mentors to receive ongoing advice and guidance. Since starting in 2019, SCI’s VMS program has helped 33 local business and enjoys an impressive stable of around 40 mentors.
I previously saw the impact of VMS firsthand by following Dr. Justine Roper’s journey through the program for over a year before producing a video story
about her amazing progress.
In the case of Greek’s, Stelios and Cristin Peterson are exactly the kind of mentees you want in this program. Sharp, conscientious go-getters who are determined to grow their business, and are very open to all the advice and guidance they can get. You can see how they have the potential for tremendous success and growth but are wary of making missteps that could derail their progress. They recognize that VMS is exactly what they need to avoid the missteps.
Their mentors, Nikki and Buddy Cummings, along with Jessica Griffen have all found great success as entrepreneurs. They delivered a lot of big picture advice as well as granular details that can make a tremendous difference. It was fascinating to hear them share so many ideas that have worked for them. Not all of it will work specifically for Greek’s, but as Buddy said, “we’re like a buffet, you can take what you want”.
This was the Greek’s 4th VMS meeting since joining the program in November. Towards the end of the session, Stelios said they are getting so much out of it and wouldn’t be doing half the things they are doing without the mentors help. They already have or are in the process of implementing several methods and procedures regarding staffing, marketing, and business structure. They left this meeting with action steps to take before next month’s session.
Of course, the value also extends to the mentors. Nikki shared how much it means to her that Stelios and Cristin are so passionate about making the most of their advice, and Jessica spoke about how the discussions benefit each of them as well, “iron sharpens iron”, she said. It’s clear they are all deeply invested in seeing Greek’s succeed, including heart-felt hugs after the meeting.
All of this from a program that is provided for free! VMS is truly making a huge impact for Pensacola’s entrepreneur ecosystem and in turn making our community a better place to live for all.
You can help us make a difference by supporting the VMS program here