To evangelize P2P mentoring space for top notch MBA colleges globally, ISB alumnus launches MentMo
Right from college admissions to career choices, role of mentorship is of immense importance. For instance, if you are a product manager based out of India and looking for product management roles at Google in Mountain View, you may require personal mentoring across every stage of your professional growth. But what are the options available?
Most probable answer would be social networks like Facebook, Twitter, professional networking platform like LinkedIn and digital libraries like Coursera and Udemy, or professional consultants (admission consultants, career coaches etc.). However, these platforms have limitation and don’t facilitate one-to-one interaction for professional mentorship.
To address this vacuum, here comes MentMo that aims to fill the space through a unique P2P platform that creates win-win for both sides of the platform. While mentees get access to a broader network and relevant advice at a much cheaper price, mentors get followership, networking opportunities, and resume credentialing, including money.
“We have started with the market that we are most familiar with -- college admissions -- with a focus on MBA admissions in global schools,” says Namit Jain, Co-founder of MentMo. MentMo started with a focus on only the top 20 schools in the US first, but soon the trio decided to open up its platform to other tops schools in Europe and Asia given the huge demand.
“Within eight weeks, we have managed to bring 190 plus mentors from 35 global universities onboard, including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, London Business School, Indian School of Business, NUS and several other top schools across the globe,” adds Namit.
On the mentee side, the platform has over 300 mentee signups across the globe, and so far has facilitated 175 plus mentor, mentee interactions. Its mentee base comes from India, Singapore, Australia, the UK, Poland, Austria, the US, and Brazil and even remote locations such as New Guinea.
“We launched MentMo based on our personal experience of applying for an MBA program and looking for a job. There was no platform that would give us direct access to ‘insiders’ without cold calling. And that’s when we started to explore the idea of MentMo,” reveals Namit.
After having worked with a consulting firm for nearly seven years, Namit decided to jump on to his MBA with only one goal -- explore opportunities with startups. After completing his MBA from ISB, Namit worked with a young Blackstone-backed venture for a couple of months, eventually deciding to start up on his own.
Early days for MentMo were challenging as the trio did not have a lot of money and they had to bootstrap everything -- from platform development to customer acquisition. “We have built most of our initial traction (especially on the mentor side) organically, trying to generate the most out of every penny that we had in our pocket. Our capital did not allow us to hire a full-time team right away, but we started building a team of committed people across the US and India who love our concept,” says Namit.
The platform has vision to get every person who is applying to college or a new job to leverage MentMo to connect with a current student/employee for specific information to prepare. “Market opportunity is as big as market opportunity for a platform like LinkedIn. We have a long and interesting chain of mentoring need to tap into -- from high school to undergrad, to grad or to further education, to early career, to mid career, to late career and even vocational,” points out Namit.
MentMo plans to roll out new web and mobile platforms in the next few months to automate the mentor matching process and integrate communication and collaboration tools within the platform.
To ensure hygiene, the startup has several checks and balances in place. It accepts mentor registrations from valid “.edu” IDs. Only legitimate people who are either the students or the alumnus of respective schools can register as a mentor. “As a second step, we conduct basic credential check (e.g. LinkedIn profile, network connections etc.) before approving their profiles for final listing on MentMo.com,” says Namit.
MentMo’s revenue model is very similar to ‘Uber’ or other ‘sharing economy’ companies. A mentee would buy a certain service (e.g. ‘30 minutes phone conversation’, or ‘feedback on a 500 word essay’ etc) from one of the mentors on its platform. It keeps a certain cut as platform usage fee, and transfers the remaining amount to the mentor.
For future growth, the company is in active discussions with investors in Silicon Valley for the next round of funding. “We aspire to be P2P mentorship platform for anything and everything. As an immediate next step, we will expand into academic courses other than MBA, expand our mentor base to many more universities and launch several other modules for micro segments in career mentoring (e.g. management consulting and product management etc),” adds Namit.
On the product side, the platform will soon introduce cool features such as video integration, interactive document editing, and mentor scoring algorithm among others.
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