MentorFirst is designed to support Nova Scotia technology start-ups at a range of development stages.

Modelled after the Venture Mentoring Service (MIT VMS) developed at MIT, MentorFirst connects entrepreneurs with teams of experienced volunteer mentors for unbiased business guidance that can be used immediately. After a successful pilot run last year that helped advance 12 start-ups, Innovacorp is ready to roll out MentorFirst as a full-time program. 

About MentorFirst

MentorFirst helps entrepreneurs connect with experienced advisors who offer counsel in a confidential and trusted environment. Mentors are carefully selected based on their expertise and their desire and ability to give back. The MentorFirst program is based on some key principles, including:

  • Completely voluntary mentor involvement
  • A team-based mentoring approach (rather than a one-on-one mentoring relationship)
  • An environment that is conflict-of-interest free, confidential and trusted. Mentors should not maintain relationships with entrepreneurs where the potential to benefit financially exists (i.e. mentors cannot invest in the venture, cannot purchase from the entrepreneur). 
“I love working with start-up entrepreneurs. Their ambition and optimism is infectious and inspiring. They’re also vital to our economy, so I want to see them succeed,” said Kimberly Stephens, MentorFirst mentor and CFO at Appili Therapeutics. “I really like how this program’s team approach allows for multiple perspectives and experience than traditional one-to-one relationships.”


Applicants must be a registered start-up based in Nova Scotia. Details on how to register with Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies (RJSC) are available from Service Nova Scotia.

Location:  Nova Scotia-based
People:  Founders and/or managers have industry knowledge, management experience and commitment to the venture
Market:  Large, growing international market
Competition:  High barrier to competitive entry
Execution:  Credible plan to reach key milestones

How Do I Join MentorFirst?

MentorFirst is designed to support Nova Scotia technology start-ups at a range of development stages. Participants are accepted on a rolling intake basis. Entrepreneurs will be assessed on willingness to be mentored, commitment to the program and fit with eligibility criteria. Mentors select which entrepreneurs they want to mentor – there is no guarantee that entrepreneurs will secure a mentor team.

Companies interested in joining the program can download the Venture Package. Mentors interested in getting involved can contact the Innovacorp team at

“Our mentorship team has been immensely helpful with some of the growing pains of running an early-stage startup.” said Jill Johnson, CEO of Neothermal Energy Storage. “Having an experienced team of people offer advice on our short and long-term projects has led to improvements in our overall strategy and day to day operations.”


All Venture Intake Packages will be treated confidentially and will not be made available to the public. Only those directly involved in managing the program and mentor teams will view submitted documents. All MentorFirst mentors agree to provide confidential and conflict-free mentoring advice. 


Questions can be directed to 902.424.8670 x 1602 or