Mentoring Forward with Faith Voinovich of Ohio Innovation Fund
Welcome to our Mentoring Forward series! We’re highlighting an incredible group of mentors and the positive impact the VC University Mentorship Program has had on VC University scholarship recipients. Since launching in 2020, the Mentorship Program has had four cohorts with a total of 121 new and early career VCs from historically underrepresented backgrounds, each who have been paired with one experienced VC mentor and one peer VC mentor. Thanks to these mentors, we are working together to create a more inclusive and diverse VC community.
Faith Voinovich has served as a peer VC mentor for three cohorts of the VC University Mentorship Program. Read more below about why she continues to support this program and the value of mentorship in VC.
Faith Voinovich, Principal, Ohio Innovation Fund
Why is mentorship important in VC and why did you want to serve as a mentor?
Finding a VC mentor can be difficult for anyone, but especially for those groups who are underrepresented across the industry. Thoughtful, match-based programs like Venture Forward are a great step toward expanding access to venture capital and mentorship, and they help make sure more diverse voices are represented in the industry. I’ve greatly benefited from awesome mentors in my journey to VC, and Venture Forward was a perfect opportunity to provide that access to others!
How did you support your mentee?
I help support each mentee by first seeking to understand their goals, then tailoring content and sharing relevant experiences that will help catalyze their growth. Post-program, I’ve kept in contact with my mentees and been able to cheer them on as they work toward achieving their VC objectives — celebrating promotions, pivots, moves to new geographies, and everything in between!
Is there any advice or guidance you shared with your mentee that you want to share more broadly with industry newcomers?
There is so much value in being in the room when decisions are made — even if that’s just as an observer at first. Take advantage of any and all opportunities early on in your transition to VC to listen to, learn from, and be exposed to a variety of voices across the VC or startup spectrum. As you’re listening, you’ll find the gaps in conversation where your experience, background, and perspective can best add value, and you can begin to contribute in meaningful ways to benefit the company or fund. This will allow you to build strong relationships and trust along the way.
What did you think were the best aspects of the mentorship program?
I always welcome the opportunity to share about the things I’ve learned — sometimes the hard way — in my path to VC. Having the chance to hear about my mentees’ experiences, helping them to avoid common pitfalls in the VC world, and cheering them on as they continue to progress in their careers is the best part of the program. It’s always a good day when I see a new position or promotion pop up on a mentee’s LinkedIn, and my email box or phone is always open if I can ever be helpful.
Why would you encourage your VC peers to serve as mentors?
Each and every person in venture capital has at least one example (and if they’re lucky, many) of someone who took a chance on them — in the form of a professor, mentor, colleague, general partner, or other leader in the startup world — as they got started in the industry. Participating in the Venture Forward mentorship program is a great way to pay that kind of support forward in galvanizing the next generation of venture leaders!
Volunteer as a mentor! Check out the program details and sign up by Friday, October 8.
The next round of this program starts in November for VC University ONLINE’s September Scholarship cohort. We’re seeking Experienced VC (5+ investing years’ experience, and Partner level or equivalent) and Peer VC (1-5 investing years’ experience) volunteers to serve as mentors. Pay it forward and join us in supporting the next generation of VC leaders!
Help us spread the word, so we can reach a strong pool of mentors. Here’s some sample content to use.