The old adage of it’s not what you know but who you know holds true today.
A. Why is MYBOARD important?
Success, all too often, is a factor of network rather than education. This simple idea offers a life network to those who may not have it. It helps new students at community/mid-level colleges find and keep a team of “life board members” who meet regularly with the student throughout their education career and shortly after.
The goal is to help students navigate through life choices, careers and educational challenges, and give students a who you know for a successful transition through and past college.
B. What is MYBOARD Exactly?
Bumble for mentorship? A "LinkedIn light"? A digital dossier?
MentorMe is an app and desktop widget that does 4 things:
- It searches LinkedIn and college mentor databases for possible matches by asking mentees some simple initial questions. Matches are based on similarities.
- It creates personalized, meaningful, on-tone templates to ask and maintain potential mentors for mentorship/advice. (Mentors may already have this light-weight app or not. The point is that mentors don't exactly have to sign up right off the bat. This partially eliminates the problem of initially getting a large mentor user base.) Later, this could be expanded to include a paid/unpaid section for additional professional coaching.
- It schedules calendar invites to keep track of contact info for both groups as well as monitors any "news" coming in from social media updates/etc.
- Lastly, it has a simple single or group chat function for mentors and mentees, but actual communication is done on platforms outside MentorMe.
C. Who are the target users and what's the Value Proposition for both students and mentors?
There are three target groups and they interact differently with MyBoard:
- Students: from mid-level colleges to community/city colleges. Often, those students come from low to mid level household incomes and struggle to confidently reach out. Their schools lack the funds or namebrand to create strong alumni/mentor networks even though students there are just as bright as in top tier schools. There's an immense value of creating a network for them.
- Mentors: MyBoard is more casual and a lot less work than a traditional mentor model. First off, you "share" a mentee with 3-5 other people, sharing the time. Your other benefits include: a. connecting with other life board mentors b. a potential new employee/colleague and c. the knowledge that you are creating a lasting positive social impact for someone who's might not have "made it" otherwise.
- Lastly, because MyBoard is so much simpler than other mentor models, companies and institutions such as colleges, student unions or even sororities/fraternities can partner with it to "off-source" their existing mentor programs, saving them time and money.
D. Ok, So how exactly does this work?
E. What about mentee quality, having a big enough base or even monitoring?
- Increasing the base + monitoring: In the beginning, there's going to be a large need for community managers from MyBoard to answer questions from mentors and mentees, form relationships with community colleges and help get a critical mass of mentors and mentees. I see the system start to self monitor once there's a large enough base. The good thing about MyBoard, however, is that it can act well enough without mentors to begin with. The search and email writing tools are robust enough for people to use them on their own.
- Mentee quality and matching: Matching is done off of a quick match test and algorithms that try to find similarities between mentors and mentees based off of their social media profiles. The initial "coffee date" is also a test to see if the match works. If you've ever looked into dating apps, their matching algorithms are similar to what MyBoard could use.
F. What do you see this growing into?
I see this growing into a strong national brand on its own, or becoming integrated into other existing platforms such as LinkedIn, Angellist, or Hired.com
I also see it becoming a national initiative and work with the US/state governments because it has such a potential to improve social mobility.
G. Does this make money? Should it?
Yes, it should make enough money that it can attract talented people to work on it and make it grow, but it is not poised to be a money machine by any means. It would be a for-profit social enterprise.
Where would the revenues be in such a platform?:
1. Additional email writing help could be purchased
2. Colleges, companies, and institutions such as the Greek system could pay to use the service to deliver their official mentorship programs, thus off-sourcing to MyBoard
3. Really well thought out, personal and non-invasive ads.