13 Apr IU Ventures Makes Follow-On Investment in Mentor Collective
Company will use bridge funding for new product launch
Bloomington, IN–After its $500,000 investment in the company’s seed round, the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund is making a second $500,000 investment in a bridge round for Boston-based mentorship platform Mentor Collective. Since the initial investment in August 2019, Mentor Collective has grown to more than 100 partners, and surpassed 100,000 mentorships formed. This includes closing an agreement with the Indiana University provost’s office to help connect students across IU with upperclassmen and recent graduates that can improve their educational experience and outcomes. Mentor Collective has six additional contracts with individual schools at IU.
“We did extensive interviews across the campus about the value of this programming for our own students,” said Jason Whitney, Vice President of IU Ventures. “It was obvious that what had value pre-Covid was even more valuable post-Covid. That is reflected in the growth of the engagement within the IU system, which helped solidify a positive investment case when presented to our investment committee for consideration.”
As many colleges and universities navigate large-scale hybrid or remote education for the first time, student engagement is more important than ever. Changes to its product reflect what Mentor Collective has learned during the months of the pandemic based on the feedback of students and institutions. The launch of its new product will be led by Erin Mayhood, an IU alumna brought on as the company’s Vice President of Product in November 2020. Mayhood will oversee an expanded engineering team, creating features allowing for earlier member recruitment and directing the development of more sophisticated mentor/mentee matching. These improvements will position Mentor Collective to raise a full Series A round in 2021.
Though the coronavirus pandemic has caused disruption in higher education, Mentor Collective has emerged as a market leader in the mentoring space. In addition to live mentor trainings and virtual events, the company provides a content library of on-demand training videos, quizzes, and discussion guides to facilitate an excellent experience for each mentor/mentee pairing. This general library is supplemented by institution-specific best practices including data-driven program design recommendations and benchmarking data. This robust offering is one reason Mentor Collective is poised to emerge from the pandemic with a 95% renewal rate. The company also looks forward to planning an expansion of its platform into mentorship programs at large corporations and in the K-12 environment.
But it is not just the company’s platform and potential IU Ventures believes will sustain its success, but also its values. Company co-founder and CEO Jackson Boyar is credited with taking a reserved approach to sustainable hiring, but also making a commitment to increasing racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. Boyar has taken personal responsibility to ensure their leadership, employees, board of directors, and mentor pool are representative of the students they serve.
“No organization provides greater access to social capital than a college or university. Faculty, staff, students, local employers, and alumni are all deeply embedded in our institutions of higher learning. I am elated that higher education institutions across the country have used our platform to bring life-changing relationships to so many students and, in turn, ensure social capital is accessible to those that need it most and not just the privileged few. I can’t wait to see what the future holds working side-by-side with this innovative group of mission-aligned investors,” said Jackson Boyar, CEO and Co-Founder.
“Who we are as an organization is a direct reflection of who we invest in,” said Whitney. “The efforts taken by Jackson and the team at Mentor Collective to be not just thought leaders but action leaders on this issue have been monumental. We hold them up as an example of excellence to our entire portfolio and challenge each business to do their part to effect change.
Through their value-based efforts and with a growing team of top-tier talent, Mentor Collective is poised to grow by helping students succeed right along with them.