A floating panel of advisors hand-picked from hundreds of mentors, who can be continuously replaced according to the start-up’s needs on the growth journey. This is the mission of the Bluementor digital platform.
Actually, the idea already started to take shape when founder Victor Wolthers worked for startups Hilfr and Grandhood. There, he saw first-hand how important it is to get help from experts when building a new business. But he also saw how difficult it is to get the right experts.
“In a startup, you’re a small team, so I was able to follow the founders’ struggles to find the necessary sparring with experts in different areas – like fundraising, go-to-market and scaling. Because who do you go to and who wants to help when you can’t afford a big consulting fee?” recalls Victor Wolthers.
Many were actually willing to help in the role of mentor for free. The challenge was just to identify and make the contact. And that became the cornerstone of his own startup: mentoring platform Bluementor.
In the province, the need grew
The challenge of finding the right mentor hit Victor Wolthers extra hard when he swapped his startup job in Copenhagen for a house in Ry – a small town outside Skanderborg that is better known for its countryside than its entrepreneurial environment.
Here, it suddenly became very clear to him how important the big cities’ entrepreneurial communities are in providing contacts to relevant sparring. The founder calls it a bias in access to knowledge sharing, which has become central to the mission of Bluementor, which wants to make it easy to find the right mentor regardless of geographical distance.
“I wondered why it would be so difficult to make the connection – in 2021, you have to be able to make this much, much easier. That’s why we want to digitise the connection, and the mission of Bluementor is to create a marketplace where mentors can make themselves available and where those who need help can find them – no matter where they are in the world,” says Victor Wolthers.
An advisory board of 150 members
The founder of Bluementor finds that both seasoned business people and entrepreneurs are actually keen to share their experiences. For them, the problem is the opposite: they lack a showcase that can present and make their skills available to relevant start-ups outside their immediate network.
“I’ve contacted almost all the mentors via LinkedIn and they really want to be mentors. They just have a hard time figuring out where to do it. But today, 150 mentors have signed up to our platform and that has led to 400 sessions, all of which have been 5-star. And that shows that those who sign up actually want to help,” says Victor Wolthers.
The 150 mentors have been joined by 250 users since their launch in late summer last year – all without spending money on marketing. But as the platform moves from the testing phase and towards larger scale, Victor Wolthers hopes the marketplace can help create a more fluid and dynamic approach to mentoring – what he calls “advice on demand”.
“We want to challenge the traditional way of one person mentoring and long processes. We are a kind of advisory board with 150 mentors you can pick from – based on what you need right now. Many people already have an advisory board, but if a startup needs to be good at user interface design, accounting structuring and a sharp pitch deck, it’s hard to find one mentor who’s an expert in all of that. That’s why we want to make it possible to continuously knit together the advisory board according to current needs – and then continuously change it without anyone getting angry,” he says.
Soon it will be free
With the first few hundred users and mentoring sessions well under way, the two founders are now confident that there is a need in the market. But they still need to find the right business model for the platform.
It started as a subscription solution, costing users 149 kroner a month for free session booking, but soon the majority of the platform will be free for users. Instead, mentors have the option to charge a fee for their help, and Bluementor then gets a cut of the amount.
“Normally, mentoring is based on social currency, where you don’t expect to get anything in return. And the vast majority on our platform – probably around 80 per cent – do it for free too. But if you want to make money out of it, you can also put an hourly rate on your sessions. And that’s fair enough if you get a lot of bookings,” says Victor Wolthers.
In addition, Bluementor is closing deals with universities and higher education institutions so that entrepreneurial students can get access. At the same time, several major companies have shown interest in using the platform for their own mentoring. And the founder hopes all of this can give Bluementor the volume to really drive change in the mentoring industry:
“We want to be the leading marketplace for on demand business mentoring in the Nordics – regardless of language, cultural background or location – that gives all entrepreneurs and students equal access to the most important resources: knowledge and networks,” says Victor Wolthers.
Bluementor currently costs DKK 149 per month, but soon it will be free to get advice through the platform. However, you can already create a free user by using the code startupmafia.eu when you create your user account at Bluementor.
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