pilot pre-work: recruitment and tools

Since our last update…

  • We presented our first-run pitch deck for our mentorship service. There was a lot in that pitch! A digital service that facilitated quality 1-on-1 mentor pairings. A couple of digital tools that solved one major pain point: Scheduling and logistics. A couple of digital tools that solved another major pain point: Onboarding and facilitation. At least one theory of student behavior change. A business plan for housing this whole system inside existing student support organizations.

As we said, there was a lot. Too much. Wayyyyy too much. It was totally unclear what “the thing” was, what the absolute most important cannot-fail part of it is, and even who our primary user is.

Based on primary research, competitive landscape analysis, and problem reframing, we really like our full solution, above. But through practicing running it in front of a public audience, it immediately became clear that we have significant trimming to do to whittle our idea down to one simple, “AHA!” compelling concept.

Which is timely, because this past week was for:

  • Designing a pilot test; and
  • Recruiting ideal participants.

Pilot test: We’ll be focusing on testing a single aspect of our service — facilitated resources for mentor-mentee meetings. We’ve developed two lo-fi resources, one for the first meeting (goal setting and future partnership flow) and one for the second (lateral-thinking exercise for practical problem-solving).

Our falsifiable hypothesis is that good mentorship is not about “the perfect match” — it is about having good resources, frameworks, and modules to stay engaged, flexible, and learning at every phase of mentorship.

And we’ll be testing that hypothesis over these next two weeks! Mentorship pairings will meet twice over the next two weeks, work through our modules, and provide feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and whether they’d continue this experience.

Recruiting: We are focusing this service for first-generation Americans (college students (mentees) and professionals (mentors)). We’re reaching out to people based in the Austin area for two 45-minute meetups. We’re requiring no pre- or post-work and will match people based on location for easiest possible meeting. In most to all cases, these pairings will not previously know eachother.

We’re recruiting previous student participants from our research, student service organizations in Austin, and others in our Austin-AC4D network.

Lessons learned:

  • Re: narrative: For our final presentation, we are going to start building it way earlier, and run it way more times, for other people. Our concept is important, but so is being able to show why and how it’s important
  • Re: wireframes: We made digital versions of wireframes to show features of the mentorship service as we were talking about it. We got feedback that this was highly effective — as we move forward with piloting and our final pitch deck, we’ll be keeping this structure of showing > telling
  • Re: pilot test: Downselecting to one “secret sauce” is tricky. We ultimately chose the mentor resources because we found it to be the best example of how our product is different; the most customizable in terms of user; and the most testable in terms of “does this actually work?”

Now we’ve got to…

  • Set up mentor-mentee pairings from our recruiting pool (we’ll be doing that matching today and through the weekend)
  • Check in with each pairing and collect feedback
  • Identify potential magic moments in the mentor-mentee pairings, and modify our resource wireframes accordingly

One way you can help right now is…

  • Contact us if you have a lead on a potential pilot participant we should reach out to! We’re currently recruiting for first-generation American college students (to be mentees) or first-generation American professionals (to be mentors). Must be in Austin. Reach us at catherine.woodiwiss@ac4d.com, christina.davis@ac4d.com, or susi.brister@ac4d.com