“A Dream and PDF” Turn into a Million Dollar Start-Up
As part of the Derby Entrepreneurship Center’s recent series, “Inside the Entrepreneurial Classroom at Tufts,” Janice Omadeke, Co-Founder and CEO of The Mentor Method, shared with the Tufts community how she founded The Mentor Method, providing insights and actionable advice to anyone looking to launch their own venture, navigate the field of entrepreneurship, or beyond.
Kicking off the session, Elaine Chen — Director of the Derby Entrepreneurship Center and Cummings Family Professor of the Practice — explained that this series takes the community inside her classroom, providing an insider’s look at how practicing entrepreneurs have built their ventures and found success.
“We’re opening part of our classroom experience to the public, especially when we have awesome people like Janice joining us,” said Elaine. She highlighted how "Janice is making U.S. history as one of the first 100 Black women to have raised over a million dollars in seed funding.”
Janice’s venture, The Mentor Method, is a SaaS (software as a service) platform that aims to help companies develop and retain diverse team members through mentorship. Their development of the right problem-solution and product-market fit led the startup to raise over one million dollars toward their mission.
“It’s been an amazing journey, [having] started this thing literally with a PDF and a dream through an entrepreneurship bootcamp,” said Janice. “Several years later, here we are.”
With a roster of clients that include the Department of Education, Deloitte, Glassdoor, and more, that dream has flourished far beyond a PDF and into a venture that’s pushing the boundaries forward for mentorship.
A hallmark of The Mentor Method is its double-blind algorithm which allows for inclusivity and equity, removing bias in the mentoring process. In Janice’s experience, she had only been matched with underrepresented women and women of color and realized that this was not the right method for sustainable mentorship. “I was always matched to the other underrepresented person that was available, which was the basis of connecting me with somebody, and that’s not necessary when building a mentor-mentee relationship,” said Janice.
She used her background in graphic design and business, her mentorship experiences, inspiration from her mom, and her learned resilience to come up with the idea of The Mentor Method as a solution for sustainable mentorship versus pattern matching, leveraging the process of checking to see if a common characteristic exists among the mentee and mentor.
For Janice, signing with Deloitte was the first big step in realizing that The Mentor Method could be expanded and used successfully.
Beginning as a consumer-focused company that matched businesswomen to outside mentors, The Mentor Method learned through different pivots and economic turns what the best option and endpoint would be for a company: A sustainable mentorship program with data-driven matching and trackable results. Through the development of The Mentor Method and the switch to enterprise, Janice learned what mentors need to be successful, which led to the platform that is The Mentor Method now.
“Everyone on our team realized it would be more efficient and more impactful if we started targeting the enterprise space to help the individuals that we want to help,” said Janice, who shared that in the enterprise space, they’re working at a greater scale.
The companies leverage The Mentor Method’s monthly guided checklists that measure progress and success criteria such as: How many women are being recruited to tech companies? How many new hires are retained by The Mentor Method? Additionally, The Mentor Method offers peer mentorship and team mentorship building opportunities.
Throughout Janice’s presentation, her wisdom touched on problem-solving to maintaining healthy relationships, whether in entrepreneurial endeavors or students’ daily lives. Some of her recommendations included:
- Be married to the problem and agile in the solution.
- As entrepreneurs, you will be growing exponentially with your business. Solutions can evolve while solving core problems.
- You are going to hear ‘no’ a lot. “Get angry or go with it.”
- Understand what’s “real” feedback and what’s good within this feedback.
- Learn from the noes and setbacks to help modify your product.
- Move on from those who do not agree with you.
- Build a board of advisors, peer mentors, and business owners.
- Have conversations with those you care about so that they can be aware of your aspirations and your availability to them.
- Take a moment for yourself every day.
Watch the full discussion: