Meet PE Finalist Janice Omadeke, CEO of The Mentor Method
We sat down with #PEIntensive17 finalist Janice Omadeke, CEO of The Mentor Method, a company connecting diverse, minority rising talents with established industry leaders. Janice discusses empowering minorities, her struggle to find a career mentor, and the importance of partnerships.
Tell us about your company.
Think of The Mentor Method as the eHarmony for connecting minorities in tech to career mentors from companies seeking to expand their diverse hiring pipeline. The Mentor Method is a career development platform empowering minorities, women, and underrepresented tech talent to learn to lead with confidence by connecting rising stars to career mentors from companies interested in hiring diversely. We bring together established companies with the brightest women and minorities showing significant promise in tech. Through mentorship from companies motivated to reach diverse talent, mentees develop the professional acumen required to be successful. The Mentor Method makes professional growth personal, pairing up compatible mentors and mentees to form connections that matter, build confidence, and benefit individuals and companies alike. Through our program, companies get early access to tech’s most innovative future leaders. Mentors will see potential candidates in action, an infinitely better screening method for potential employees than the traditional interview process.
What is the mission of your company and what is it attempting to change in the world?
Our mission is to make mentoring engaging, accessible, and a tool for diversity.
Where does your passion for this business stem from?
It stems from my own career path. I struggled to find a career mentor early in my career. I tried networking events, but finding a mentor through those was always an intimidating and awkward approach. Corporate mentoring programs matched me either based on my gender, race, or current industry and didn’t take my personality or my career goals into account. There was also a lack of confidentiality – one of my “mentors” shared information with my supervisor which appeared in my performance review. In looking at the opportunities available for professionals to receive mentorship, I realized not much has changed and I believe that in 2017, things need to change. If we want to see more minorities in leadership positions, we have to change the way we provide opportunities to future leaders that make diversity advocacy personal, a team effort, and more than checking a box.
When did you know you had a good idea on your hands?
I felt it in my gut immediately but spent time researching current solutions and our competitive advantage. After launching our Beta in September 2016 with paying users, I realized that we were able to impact the lives of others in a way that made stronger connections and led to promotions, raises, new jobs, and increased confidence for our members to create their own businesses and take new opportunities they felt unsure of prior to joining.
What has been the most difficult thing you’ve faced on this journey so far and what’s been the greatest reward?
I’ve enjoyed the entrepreneur journey – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I can’t believe I didn’t become an entrepreneur sooner. That being said, the most challenging part is access to capital to continue expanding my business.
What has motivated you most throughout your entrepreneurship journey?
Knowing that the work we’re doing at The Mentor Method can change the direction of a future leader’s life. One of our users, Mia, was a bar manager at a popular chain restaurant and was teaching herself graphic design on the side. She didn’t have a 4-year college degree and faced countless rejection letters from companies because of that, despite having grit and a strong work ethic. In two months of her membership, Mia’s mentor helped her get a paying graphic design internship which is now a full-time position. Even better, she’s now motivated to create her own marketing consulting business. This is everything to me.
What words of wisdom would you share with other new entrepreneurs?
Pay close attention to those who rally around you and try to support you as you take on the amazing journey of entrepreneurship. Those are the people you should turn to if you hit a low point, want to celebrate a win, or need to be reminded of why you started in the first place. You will face criticism for your idea – that’s a natural occurrence. Don’t let it get to you. Instead, think about the concerns that person brought up in the criticism. They may have a point that can help you refine your business model. If not, you at least can think of a way to answer that question should you hear it again. Be open to collaborating with other early entrepreneurs. Some of my best events were in partnership with other amazing women building their businesses. Being able to support other women in the journey is critical to your success, as you never know when you may need help in return. My last piece of advice is to have fun. Enjoy testing new theories, participating in customer surveys, refining your messaging, finding cofounders, and building your first pitch deck. Print out your first press piece and keep it handy to look back on. It can help you keep moving forward when it’s 3 AM and you haven’t slept in 24 hours!