This week, Susi, Christina, and I pivoted slightly once again as we refine our concepts. Last week we mapped out service blueprints and more closely defined our concepts. Using what we uncovered, this we revised our service blueprints, reached out to competitors for interviews (scheduled for next week), and re-opened a concept we’d previously put on the back burner: Mentor Match.
We are honing in on the problem space of young first-generation Americans assessing their post-high school options. One theme that emerged from our research is the reality that parents’ lived experiences and perspectives plays a huge role in shaping what young people in this group believe is possible. Yet it’s often the key support of a non-family member—coach, adviser, or teacher—that plays the pivotal role in young people making choices about college. In short: Young lives are changed when they encounter someone who instills confidence and provides alternative ways of seeing the world.
As such, all three concepts now revolve around matching young first-generation Americans with the advice and support they need. Ask Maya is a published advice column + newsletter; Storytelling Series is our, well, storytelling series.
Our new pivot, Mentor Match, is a digital concierge matching service to connect potential mentees with up to three mentors.
We arrived here after downselecting away from Turbo Life, a digital “whole life” management tool. We found that idea too far afield in terms of service and too “already done” in terms of existing products to continue, and our interviewee/testers agreed.
Instead, Mentor Match grew out of a conversation with a subject matter expert (and possible future stakeholder). She shared that her organization has a robust alumni network, and a growing student recipient base, but no effective way to connect them. She described the relationships between the organization and the students as “transactional,” and expressed a strong desire to help turn these relationships into something lasting, mutual, and engaged.
Her insights help hone our concept this week. Using her as a case model, we have begun building a prototype to test a tiered matching service—a digital tool that will allow mentees to fill out a profile, be matched with three possible candidates, and meet up from there. Each mentee will be requested to meet at least one mentor, with a strong encouragement to meet all three, to best test out which pairing might yield the best success. Think “E-Harmony” for life mentorship.
Our next steps include developing our custom matching criteria, testing our criteria by hand-matching a small pool of mentors and mentees, and testing our pitch deck with possible organizations and companies.