VOL. 7 | NO. 17 | Saturday, April 19, 2014
MentorMe Startup, Founder Continue to Thrive
By Andy Meek
Memphian Brittany Fitzpatrick’s startup MentorMe is on a roll, having secured a six-figure round of funding after graduating from Memphis’ Seed Hatchery accelerator as well as the NewMe accelerator program in San Francisco.
Fitzpatrick recently was on Capitol Hill in Washington, the result of her being asked to join a group speaking with members of Congress about what it’s like to build a startup in Memphis.
Also recently, the Social Enterprise Alliance, in conjunction with the American Express Foundation, included Fitzpatrick on its list of the top “50 under 40” emerging leaders in the social enterprise world.
Fitzpatrick’s company is a cloud-based platform for mentoring programs.
And as these and other recent developments show, she’s a young entrepreneur who hit the ground running from the starting gate and has not let up since.
“We got some great connections to potential investors in San Francisco that we’re still continuing to follow up with,” she said, looking back on her recent whirlwind of activity.
“We got our prototype launched and got a great chance to network with potential customers on the West Coast.
“I came back home in November, and we closed our (funding) round at the end of January. And we also started working with the Greater Memphis Chamber.”
MentorMe’s $175,000 in funding came from Start Co. Angels, which is a network of business leaders that was launched to create an angel fund.
Fitzpatrick said the chamber was a natural fit to work with, since the organization has two mentoring initiatives, and she added that MentorMe also is working with the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation.
Her recent presentation in Washington came through an organization called Engine, which focuses on advocacy and lobbying for startups.
“They had a startup day on the Hill where they invited startups from around the country to come interact with members of Congress and talk about issues directly related to Congress, issues like patents and patent trolling,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was cool for them to see Memphis is a place where startups are being built and that there’s also a focus on supporting women in technology here.”
Fitzpatrick graduated from Howard University in 2009 and moved to Memphis that same year.
Fitzpatrick studied journalism and public relations at Howard, and at the University of Memphis she got to learn more about the social media aspect of public relations and how it can be incorporated into branding and marketing strategies.
She took the plunge completely when setting up MentorMe, leaving her job as communications coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis to devote herself full-time to MentorMe – to setting it up, growing it and watching it thrive.
In explaining the need for MentorMe’s service, she has data showing that a sizeable chunk of the population of children in Memphis live at or below the poverty level.
Some of them will graduate high school, but far fewer will graduate college, she explains – a reality that improves greatly when those children are paired with appropriate mentors.
Mentorship is a personal concept for her.
She has both mentored and been affected by mentors of her own, and she believes that technology can help a service like MentorMe make the mentoring relationship even more effective and efficient for people who are pursuing the same thing.