Last year, just before Christmas we got a chance to help with the Upstart 48 Hour Launch event in Memphis, Tennessee. This event, like Startup Weekend events, was a weekend-long startup building hackathon with a twist. The twist? It was for women-led startup projects only.
We saw several great startups. Some are still going strong, and we even met our employee #1 at that event. Danielle Inez’ Pink Robin Avenue ended up winning the weekend competition and a free booth at Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference. Another great startup we saw was Mentor.Me, or just MentorMe now.
While the startup, led by Memphis woman Brittany Fitzpatrick, didn’t win the competition, Fitzpatrick immediately turned on her entrepreneurial prowess and before the end of the evening she had crowdfunded, in person, her own booth for the conference. That showed what kind of passionate, hardworking entrepreneur Fitzpatrick really is.
MentorMe is a matching service for mentors and mentee’s, kind of like “match.com for mentors.” Fitzpatrick has a strong background in mentorship and quickly discovered that mentor/mentee mismatch was a huge problem nationwide.
Fitzpatrick ended up quitting her job at Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities and going all in with her startup. She went through the spring session at the Memphis-based Seed Hatchery accelerator and continued to grind.
Last month Fitzpatrick participated in the NewMe Pop-Up accelerator in Memphis, where her startup MentorMe came in 3rd place. That win also got her a spot in the NewMe accelerator program in Silicon Valley, which starts next week.
NewMe is an invite-only 12-week accelerator for technology startups led by underrepresented minorities. Private investment firm CB Insights reported in 2010 that African Americans represented just 1 percent of Internet company founders nationally. Furthermore, although women represent more than 50% of the U.S. population, they represent only 35 percent of those launching their own ventures.
“As an African-American woman and a tech startup founder, I am always happy to align myself with efforts to change the ratio so that we can create a startup community that is more reflective of the diversity we see in the community-at-large,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
“From upstart 48 hour launch last winter, through Seed Hatchery I’ve had the privilege of seeing both Mentor.me and Brittany grow from idea to full fledged startup. Brittany quit her day job, dug in, and made this opportunity happen for her. We’ll miss her for the few months while she’s out west for the NewMe Accelerator, but we’re looking forward to her coming back home to Memphis and being another success story for the Memphis startup ecosystem,” Seed Hatchery Managing Director Eric Mathews told Nibletz.
Find out more about MentorMe here at getmentorme.com