TSD Memphis

Thu04242014

Greater Metro

MentorMe now backed by ‘Angels’

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MentorMe founder and CEO, Brittany Fitzpatrick, has been moving as if her technology-driven company is a valuable business with significant growth potential. Now a group of "Angels" is backing her up.

Fitzpatrick's MentorMe is one of three companies recently selected to receive angel funding from Start Co – a Memphis-based global venture development organization that offers business accelerator programs designed to promote and encourage entrepreneurship.

"We're excited to receive an investment through Start Co.'s Wolf River Angels. It is a huge milestone not just for our company, but for me personally and proves that MentorMe is a valuable business with significant growth potential," said Fitzpatrick.

Start Co's investment was $175,000.

MentorMe has developed an online platform to strengthen processes related to mentor matching, managing mentor/mentee relationships and evaluating the effectiveness of existing mentoring programs. The company provides software to corporations and non-profit organizations that are interested in improving success rates of their mentoring initiatives whether they are geared toward children or adults.

Fitzpatrick, launched the company in 2012 in response to what she concluded was a growing need to increase the number of active mentors and improve inefficiencies in tracking and measuring outcomes of mentoring relationships.

After being chosen as one of six cohorts to participate in Start Co's 90-day Seed Hatchery accelerator, Fitzpatrick has been placed on a fast track to success for her business venture since graduating from the program in May of 2013.

"Adequate funding is crucial to the success of early-stage business ventures like MentorMe, and this angel investment is vital to help us scale our business and product development efforts so that we can provide effective mentorship to a larger number of organizations," she said.

While securing funding and investments is a challenge that all startup companies confront, for women and minorities, particularly those who lead technology business ventures, the feat can prove impossible for most to achieve. A recent Forbes magazine article reported that in 2013, minority businesses accounted for just 4.5 percent of all angel investments. Overall, just 15 percent of minority-owned firms have successfully translated an investment pitch into actual funding.

"Start Co. Angels saw Brit taking big risks for the past 12 months in a tough investment environment and still meeting milestones," said Andre Fowlkes, co-president of Start Co.

"Because of this founder commitment coupled with an innovative business model in an industry waiting to be disrupted, we were glad to make this placement and support the capital raise for MentorMe."

While still considered a new business, MentorMe has already formed partnerships with the Greater Memphis Regional Chamber and the Memphis Grizzles Charitable Foundation. Both organizations use MentorMe's online platform to improve their existing mentoring programs.

Fitzpatrick plans to increase the number of partnerships in 2014, and is looking forward to expanding current product and service offerings.

(To learn more, go to www.getmentorme.com.)

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