The Mentoring Club - our story in numbers

 


The story of The Mentoring Club began in March 2020 as an initiative during the first Corona Lockdown in Germany. Jessica Dewald and Bastian Buch published a Linkedin post offering their time as pro bono mentors to the public. In just a few days, they received dozens of registrations from interested mentees as well as numerous requests from their network to join the initiative and also donate time as mentors. In early April 2020, the founders crafted a simple website using Google Sites and a simple form to register for a session.  They registered the domain mentoring-club.com and launched the website on April 12, 2020. 

In addition to the website, a Linkedin company profile was created to help share the initiative and the website to even more people, a designer from their network created a logo (which is the same logo they use today), and the idea behind the initiative was condensed as editorial contents for the website and to share with a broader audience. Within the first 4 weeks since the first launch 75 people from around the world registered as mentors on The Mentoring Club, some of them still active members of the community. 102 people on the other side requested mentoring sessions about a wide spectrum of topics: career coaching, reviewing CVs, becoming an Agile Coach or a Product Manager, reviewing early startup ideas, and many other topics. 

Adding profiles to the website, matching mentors and mentees, answering emails, and helping members to onboard into the newly formed community - all of this manual work was performed by the two initiators in their free time. Until June 2020 more than 250 mentees and another 150 potential mentors have sent their data in order to become members or learn more about the initiative. To handle the unexpected attention and growth the founder team introduced and integrated Calendly as a scheduling solution, produced comprehensive documentation for the mentors to set everything up and have productive mentoring sessions, created an official imprint and a privacy + cookie policy, started a Slack channel for mentors to connect with each other, ask questions about using the platform, and start creating interest groups, and started to implement the mentoring club website using modern web technologies for automating both the registration flow for mentors and the scheduling flow for mentees.

This newly created web platform was launched at the end of July 2020 and provided an easier way to create mentoring profiles. In the following months, further key features were added: A safe registration process and login area for mentors to create their own profiles, receive statistics about their engagement, manage sessions, and receive feedback from their mentees which they also can publish on their mentoring profiles.  

Besides the website, the founders experimented with several ways to engage with the community by creating inspiring content for more and more people to learn and grow: A blog was started for mentors to publish articles about their domains, a podcast series was initiated in which randomly selected mentors from the community meet with each other to discuss relevant topics, and some online events (presentations from thought leaders and panel talks) were organized for the community and followers. One of the key content elements of our website is "Our Library" which lists book recommendations for a range of categories. Since February 2022 our mentors can add their own book recommendations on their profile pages. News around the platform itself, such as new features or new mentors, and other related content gets distributed via a newsletter to thousands of recipients, the followers of the Linkedin page (ca 9000 followers), the Twitter community, and the Facebook page

From the beginning, the initiative was featured in a few articles both in offline and online media: In 2020 the t3n magazine featured us in an online article about our idea and how we started the initiative during and because of the Corona pandemic, and in 2021 they published a full-page interview with us as part of their print title story about learning and development. The Handelsblatt published a short interview with our founders both in print and online in the context of an article about alternative ways to corporate learning and development. The initiative and some of the mentors were mentioned in a 2020 online article from Sifted.eu about remote mentoring. In addition to these interviews and articles we’ve been mentioned and/or interviewed in a range of podcasts (e.g. Business Punk, Xing New Work Stories, Daily of The Month podcast) and a couple of local online magazines (e.g. a story about our indian-based mentor Saurav Singla in Techstory India). 

In spring 2021 The Mentoring Club Team introduced the "Certified Mentor Badge", a digital certification for our mentors to add to their Linkedin profiles, CVs, email signatures etc. Mentors who have done at least 10 mentoring sessions and received positive feedback receive the badge. Up to now more than 150 Mentors are listed as certified mentors. 

One year after the first launch of the website and the initiation of the pro-bono project, the founders established a German non-profit organization to further manage and evolve the platform and create financial income streams through donations and sponsorships for covering the operational costs of running the platform. The ‘The Mentoring Club gUG (haftungsbeschr√§nkt)’ (Entrepreneurial non-profit company with limited liability) was registered on March 1st, 2021 with both co-founders (Jessica Dewald, Bastian Buch) equally owning 50% of the company.

As a non-profit organization The Mentoring Club gUG was able to receive support from several companies for further setting up a professional organizational setup and tooling landscape: Google provides free access to their Google Suite including our company E-Mail, documentation via Google Docs, and other freely accessible corporate tools. In addition to GSuite, Google enables our marketing with a monthly Ad grant. Linkedin Germany was acquired as a partner/sponsor for the Mentoring Club podcast, and the Product People GmbH signed up as a sponsor of our Product Management category. More than 120 private supporters from a wide range of countries donated money to the company, with some of them doing monthly or quarterly recurring donations. In addition to monetary support, we’ve been successful in acquiring a team of volunteers helping us with running the platform and the community. 

And we are very sure, that this is only the beginning. Stay tuned!

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