We are excited to be back with a new interview, featuring more inspiring entrepreneurs! Last week, we had the opportunity to chat with professional dancer Ashley Werhun and filmmaker Katherine Macnaughton, who co-founded Mentorly, the first-of-its-kind online arts mentorship platform.
The Inspiration Behind Mentorly
Throughout their professional career, Ashley and Katherine recognized a significant gap in education, whereby aspiring artists seeking to gain insight into the professional world, are unable to connect with a mentor who was once in there shoes. As a result, the two co-founded Mentorly, an online platform for artists offering a multitude of benefits, such as inspiring and empowering mentees through one-on-one guidance from experienced mentors, saving much search time as Mentorly’s mentors are readily available on the platform, and enabling mentors not only to optimize their time giving back, but earn additional revenue to, in turn, support their own work.
Development of Mentorly
Both co-founders began recruiting mentors by reaching out to artists within their own network, pitching the idea while traveling, and cold-calling industry leaders. There are now over 350 users on Mentorly, out of which ⅔ are mentors, many of whom also wish to be mentored. As a result, a community centred around mutual learning, collaboration, and shared experiences is being fostered.
The Crucial Elements that a Startup Needs for Success
Ashley and Katherine mentioned that having an organized yet creative team, dividing tasks to avoid overlapping work, and effective management on communication channels are key to a startup’s success. Both co-founders emphasized the idea that trust and respect for each other’s strengths have made them strong. Mentorly also outsourced the design and build of their platform to another firm, Volume7, working closely with them to ensure their vision for the product and Mentorly’s branding were closely followed.
Challenges in the Process of Launching Mentorly
Ashley addressed that managing expectations of growth can be challenging when launching a double-sided platform such as Mentorly.co. She pointed out that a company that is based on people can result in varying responses and needs to remain understanding and flexible. As such, assessing the rate of progress and communicating it with others, albeit crucial, can be sometimes difficult. As for Katherine, trusting in her ability to be both a competent entrepreneur and artist has proven to be bit challenging at times. Both co-founders accept that having self-doubt is a normal part of being an entrepreneur and the best way to deal with it is to focus on that which can be accomplished and improved upon.
The Next Exciting Things for Mentorly
Mentorly has exciting partnerships with businesses and universities in the works and will be making announcements soon. Stay tuned to receive further details: https://mentorly.co/
About the Author
Pauline is a second year student at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia. She is passionate about leveraging sustainable impact through financial and strategic empowerment and finds those practices in impact investment and social entrepreneurship. In her free time, she is mostly surrounded with books.