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Valley Venture Mentors to Host Inaugural Awards Ceremony April 30

SPRINGFIELD — Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) will host its inaugural Accelerator Awards event on Thursday, April 30 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The event will honor recent graduates of its new Accelerator Program, which is currently grooming 29 startup teams from across the Pioneer Valley for success by imparting meaningful business knowledge, structure, and tools.

During the awards ceremony, the organization will award grants of up to $50,000 each to startup teams selected as finalists. The event runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and will include a lively networking reception as well as a dinner and awards program, featuring startup teams and an address by John Harthorne, founder and CEO of MassChallenge.

This year’s Accelerator Program is funded by MassMutual, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, with the mission to support an entrepreneurial renaissance in Springfield and the Pioneer Valley.

According to VVM founder Paul Silva, “this event is the ideal opportunity to see firsthand the excitement that VVM and the Accelerator Program are generating, so we hope everyone who is interested in learning about VVM’s work will join us for an inspiring evening.”

During the four-month Accelerator Program, each team is assigned to a peer-supported group, introduced to VVM advisors, and provided free co-working space in downtown Springfield. The teams engage in investment-readiness boot camps with hands-on training, expert-led lectures, peer collaboration, advisor meetings, and practice judging rounds. Teams also participate in VVM’s ongoing weekly workshops that cover strategy, innovation, marketing, sales, team building/dynamics, best practices, fund-raising, and introductions to term-sheet and valuation processes.

“VVM takes a lovingly critical approach to training its startups,” Silva said. “We put the entrepreneur first in every endeavor.”

The positive, rigorous training program is structured around the Lean LaunchPad curriculum, which emphasizes achieving the highest possible investment-readiness level and overcoming the three main causes of startup death: failing to achieve product-market fit, premature scaling, and team-member dynamics.

“We provide comprehensive, effective resources for our teams,” Silva added. “Our real aim is to provide our groups with preparation beyond the presentation. We want them to build their businesses for the long term.”

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