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MyBoard: Meet Your Own Personal Board (Edited Feb 27th)

What if each student had their own personal board of directors?

Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
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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:

  1. It searches LinkedIn and college mentor databases for possible matches by asking mentees some simple initial questions. Matches are based on similarities.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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? 

Image title

E. What about mentee quality, having a big enough base or even monitoring?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

It is designed for community/city college students that may lack the confidence to create strong professional bonds to connect with mentors both locally and on a national scale. Higher education often fails on delivering coherent life advice on a human scale. This program strives to address this.

This idea emerged from:

  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

A few questions come to mind: 1. How can the benefits to BOD members be expanded? 2. How would this be feasibly implemented? 3. For a program such as this that works on alumni engagement, what steps are needed to start the program versus continuing the program?

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

1. Test this out with at a local community college with their own peers and alumni networks. 2. Run a splashpage and test out whether there is significant interest from both mentors and mentees. 3. Interview mentors on their challenges.

Tell us about your work experience:

I have worked in Architectural Design and Student Affairs. I ran a student union for over 40,000 students and represented over 300 different student clubs on campus.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

You know that saying, "it's not what you know, it's who you know"? Well, we're here to give those without networks a "who-you-know". We help built upward social mobility through better mentorship models.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

America has a deep social mobility problem - we are trying to address this through distributed mentorship.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

MyBoard is a distributed mentorship model. It is (a) dead simple to use (b) leverages online data and, (c) uses a genuine and more casual approach to mentorship

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

1. Number of mentor/mentee groups that successfully match 2. "Success Stories" submitted by users 3. The average length of BOD relationships 4. The amount of communication between mentors and mentees (messages sent)

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

This idea is scalable as it relies on the network effect to begin with. However, reaching critical mass is going to be an issue. Some solutions to reach a large enough user base: (a) partner up with community colleges and school groups to get them involved at the beginning (b) have a MyBoard community management team that reaches out to potential mentors, especially those that may not be traditionally online, and (c) the app needs to be robust enough as a standalone for mentees only.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

Test this out with at one local community college with their own peers and alumni networks.

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39 comments

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Photo of Shantell D Jiminez
Team

Informative post.
http://www.lakeviewblinds.com.au/awnings

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Photo of John
Team

I really like the concept of MyBoard. It can serve as a constant guide to students and help them in making a lot of decision in their professional life. A very good app for building strong networks before entering the corporate world. https://www.cleangreenbuilders.com/service/solar/

Spam
Photo of Janice
Team

To actively monetize this effort, you could reach out to major corporations and businesses as Mentor Sponsors who would pay a sponsorship level amount AND have members of their companies become Mentors. They could list their participation on their websites and MyBoard could become an official seal of corporate social responsibility for corporate boards all over the country! Levels of participation could be dependent on revenue or size of workforce for each business. You could get a well known board president to be a endorser.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Congratulations!

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Wow!!! Thank you! This is so great!

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Photo of Carlos Prieto
Team

Hi Ekaterina, I like this idea and we want to apply something similar here in UTS sydney. The think that will improve this is how to design analytics and go beyond basic message data to trace active communication. Maybe applying an active participatory design approach on the analytics design part. I would like to test your idea with some students here and get some results back to you.

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina Dovjenko - have you seen Carlos' post? Also, maybe some inspiration could be drawn from the mentor boards for startups in some accelerator programs.

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Hi Kate, just saw this! Carlos Prieto , this is a great idea. I wasn't sure we were allowed to reply to posts after the deadline! :D

I'd love to learn more about how to apply active participatory design on the analytics. How would this work? You're more than welcome to test this idea out with some student at UTS Sydney. I'd love to collaborate with you on it actually!

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

Please do respond to posts and connect. We really want to see the ideas developing. Sorry if it was not made clear.

The only thing you can't do at the moment is edit your idea post, but you can work on your idea offline. This is because the experts and judges need to review all the ideas and it would be difficult to review the ideas and compare notes if the posts were being updated.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

p.s. This is UTS Sydney - www.uts.edu.au/

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Photo of Lisa Dong
Team

Ekaterina,

This is a really useful idea that can definitely promote professional development earlier on and help alleviate this issue of social mobility. However, do you the demand from alumni to participate may vary based upon the university and since this is targeted towards students from low to mid level household incomes, how can this be reasonably priced so that there is still a high enough demand but so that it remains profitable? Thanks!

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Photo of Tomer
Team

Hi Ekaterina, I definitely agree that in today's career world who you know is often more important than what you are able to do. That being said, would you make quality matches on scale?
How would you make sure that a mentee will be on par with what a mentor expects him to be (If he isn't the mentor will likely be useless / it won't be fair to expect him to pull his own strings for the student).
Additionally, how will the skills match and relevance of expertise be done? Should ideally (and realistically) all students have a board of mentors to them?

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Great question. I think it'll be a combination of initial matching questions and perhaps some sort of rate/feedback mechanism (still working on that!). Or, maybe mentors chose mentees first?

As for the second question, my wish is for all students to have it, more specifically though, I see this as something incredibly helpful for students that grew up perhaps with less of a network. I've looked into making the audience a bit more specific or targeting a particular group but I think the power of such a tool lies in the network and I'm hesitant to make it smaller. What do you think? Great feedback!

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Photo of Tomer
Team

Ekaterina Dovjenko I definitely agree a tool like this will gain a lot of value from its network effect and won't be very useful without a decently sized user base. At the same time, if it grows too quickly and there isn't a very solid matching automation then it will result in a lot of disappointment and therefore losing the early adopters and perhaps hurting the entire chance of the network effect.
I would personally start in a smaller scale and make sure it works while slowly gathering the data on the people to learn better how to match them more automatically.
You might want to look into GetEverwise.com - a startup that matches rising talent to mentors that can guide them along the way. It's mostly used for corporations and licenses aren't cheap for individuals but you might get some ideas by exploring what they do! There's also an app called Shapr that is like a Tinder for networking but might also be useful to find mentors and understand how their process works.|
(sorry for my delayed response!!)

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Thank you so much for all your feedback. I have never heard of GetEverwise and only slightly about Shapr. Will check out both!

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Photo of Catherine Collins
Team

Hi Ekaterina,
Happy to give feedback regarding mentorship in higher ed. Regarding @katerushton mention. Feel free to reach out!
Catherine

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Hi Catherine, thank you so much for your help.

I just have a few questions I'd love to get your take on (my apologies that it's a bit last minute. I'm just trying to validate some assumptions I have and any help would be great!).

What's the biggest challenge for mentors? Is it the quality of mentees, staying in touch, or lack of programs/mentees reaching out to them?

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Photo of Afrin Bhuiyan
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

I enjoyed learning about the idea behind MyBoard, and as a first generation American, I can definitely understand the value of providing resources to students who wouldn't have access to mentorship otherwise. How will you ensure that a mentee will be matched with a mentor that will be useful to them? I know you had mentioned that they will be matched based off of similarity, but are you willing to look into creating algorithms to dictate the matching process? There are a variety of factors that need to be taken into account during the matching process, and I believe that is critical to creating the most value through this platform.

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Hi Afrin, you're right and I've re-written some of my business plan above with your feedback. Thank you!

There is a two step process for matching : 1. algorithms that match mentors to mentees based on social media profiles as well as college databases along with quick questions 2. a quick coffee chat to determine fit

If you've ever used a dating app, you know that these sort of algorithms have limitations so we'll need to figure out the exact mix of matching algorithms and face-to-face process.

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Photo of Quincy KK
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

I relate strongly to MyBoard as my mom has always told me to think about the people in my life who I would want on my own personal executive board.

I think this could be a great tool not just for schools in general, but for school clubs. Having been very involved in clubs throughout my college education, it was always hard to keep alumni engaged with current members, not because they weren't interested, but because of the logistical challenge it was to maintain relevant alumni contact info, gather career information from everyone, pair people off with appropriate mentors/connections etc. I can really see MyBoard helping to facilitate these interactions and I'm excited to see where you take it.

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Quincy- I'm so glad you think there's a need for this sort of thing! Completely agree with you. I too was super involved with clubs in college and what I realized is how quickly institutional knowledge would be lost once the students who ran the club (and ran the mentor program!) would leave. "Out-sourcing" that to MyBoard could definitely benefit clubs ( or even larger sorority/fraternity organizations).

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

There are a few hours left in the refinement phase if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.

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Photo of Natasha Rajiv
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

I think your idea is a very innovative one, and one that I could see really working well. As a sophomore in college, I can truly see the importance of having a good network of people, and I am starting to see how much more important "who you know" is, compared to "what you know". Your idea really fills a niche gap in the market, but I have a question for you, regarding the application's scalability.
You did mention that scalability will come from the network effect, which I agree with, but how do you plan to reach the critical mass of both mentors and mentees that is needed to kickstart the network effect?
With regard to your concern about the expansion of benefits to BOD members, I think that the most key thing is to really emphasize the fact that they will be creating a lasting social impact. Additionally, I would also mention that as mentors, they have the important role of guiding mentees (who are the next generation of the workforce) in the right direction and this once again leaves a lasting positive social impact.

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Thanks for the feedback Natasha. You're right, critical mass is a problem with these sort of online community models. I think it's important to (a) partner up with community colleges and school groups to get them involved at the beginning (b) have a MyBoard community management team that reaches out to potential members, especially those that may not be traditionally online, and (c) the app needs to be robust enough as a standalone thing for mentees. I think the ability to search Linked In and the school's existing database and then learn how to write professional emails is a strong value proposition on its own. It only gets better with the onset of mentors on the app.

Great idea on highlighting the lasting positive social impact for mentors. I think this is especially true for mentors who have may come from similar backgrounds as their mentees. Thank you!

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Photo of Shaun Browne
Team

Ekaterina Dovjenko 

I am interested in being involved in this project. Thanks, Kate Rushton for including me on this list and thinking that I could make a meaningful addition to this important project. Mentoring and a BOD are excellent methods to help develop the skills, knowledge, behaviors, and strategies to help prepare people for their future.

I'm glad to be able to contribute what I can.

@Shaun Browne

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Hi Shaun Browne ! Thank you for your message. I wanted to test out my assumptions since I have a limited amount of experience with being a mentor. Would it be possible to get your quick take on the following question:

What's the biggest challenge for mentors? Is it the quality of mentees, staying in touch, or lack of programs/mentees reaching out to them?

Thank you so much for your time and feedback!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

There is just a week left of refinement. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Spam
Photo of Joel Nicholson
Team

I love this idea. It's really unique and much needed. I have a friend running a mentorship company, and I've had students reach out to young professionals on LinkedIn for mentorship. The hardest thing is finding people who care about paying it forward. I was wondering what incentives exist for the mentors to get involved?

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Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Would love your feedback on this!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

Are there any specific groups of people you would like feedback from?

Spam
Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Hi Kate,

I'd love to get feedback from possible mentors. Not sure if that's possible but I'm working on ways to test out some of my "prototypes" and would love to sit down with people who have mentored others and what they found worked/did not work. Thanks for the message!

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

There are a few OpenIDEO community members that are mentors. Would you like feedback from them?

Spam
Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Yes (if they have a moment)! I'll be posting a few more things but I would love to get super simple feedback on what they find difficult in (a) keeping mentees (b) getting mentees (c) being great mentors. I want to make sure if my assumptions are in line with what mentors generally find challenges. Thank you!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

I wonder if Shaun Browne Kipkoech Collins Nastasia Tebeck Sanjay Bhargava Gavin Melles @DeletedUser or Catherine Collins might have some feedback based on their extensive experience in mentoring. Also, a few ideators of the thirty ideas in the refinement phase have a background in mentoring. Maybe you could reach out to them and offer feedback on their ideas.

Spam
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Ekaterina! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 02/01" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

I hope you are having a nice day.

There are two ideas from previous challenges that you might be interested in looking at:

Vykarious in our End of Life Challenge - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/end-of-life/top-ideas/vykarious - has a great user journey and identification of personas and visualisation of feedback of the idea.

"I Know Something" (IKS) - also in the End of Life Challenge - is a peer-to-peer storytelling platform built on short, first-person video stories and simple reflection exercises - https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/end-of-life/top-ideas/peer-learning-storytelling

It might give a few ideas on how digital could be used as a supplement to face-to-face meetings.

I would recommend really digging down into what is the problem, how is this solution and think about what the competitors are to demonstrate that this a ‘need to have’ and not a ‘nice to have’.

Spam
Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

Welcome to the refinement phase, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by using @ and typing my name.

Take care,

Kate

Spam
Photo of Ekaterina Dovjenko
Team

Hi all! Wow! So many good questions. I've thought about the logistics a bit more and here's what I think:

Kate Rushton matching would be done partially through the institution and partially through the student herself. The student's own chosen degree and entrance essay should give the base of matching, but I also think the mentors should have a say on who they choose. A friend of mine just recently went through alumni interviews for an MBA school and the way they matched people to interview her was, in a way, similar to how I see this working.

I think it is up to the institution to decide online vs. not. Personally, I think non online at least 20% of the time would be ideal, and not everyone has to be present at the board. I imagine it more of a network of 5-6 people a student can reach out to at any given time. Keep the questions coming!

Jeff Lang I imagine this as a tack on piece for institutions, complete with a set of guidelines and a small centralized staff to help college "franchises". I really think buy-in at a high level from universities is absolutely integral, and in order for that to occur, there needs to be some flexibility so that schools can tailor the program for their own needs.

As for the online vs not thing, each college normally already has a "portal"-type program and emails for their student where they post grades etc. I imagine this being incorporated through their own systems rather than a stand alone website. But maybe that needs to be figured out a bit more? What do you think?

Andrea Zelenak completely agree! As a child of immigrants, I found that my parents often couldn't offer contacts (such as potential job contacts) and couldn't really take ownership over my education as much as others. In a way, this was good as it built up resilience, but I am also aware of how important those connections are. Increasing the odds of having people "on your side" through key decision making times will, I think, hopefully lead to more successful outcomes.

Good questions everyone!

Spam
Photo of Jeff Lang
Team

Ekaterina,
This is a really exciting idea. Mentorship is incredibly valuable.
How would you deploy this? Is it a set of guidelines that each institution can follow on it's own? Or would there be a centralized point where students can be directed and set up with their board? Does the BOD meet face to face or online? Is there a way for students or institutions to share their learnings?
I'm really interested in how it would work. Looking forward to seeing how you proceed.
Jeff

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Ekaterina,

Great idea!

How would you match the students to their personal panel board? Would these sessions be online, in person?