A new startup launching today called Everwise is looking to help. The San Francisco and New York-based startup, which was co-founded by tech industry veteran and current Yahoo board chairman Maynard Webb and former Audium founder and Cisco executive Mike Bergelson, has built a tech-powered platform for matching “protégés” with the right mentors and shepherding them through a six-month-long advisory relationship.
In an interview this week, Bergelson, who serves as Everwise’s CEO, said the service plugs data from a participant’s LinkedIn profile as well as a personalized questionnaire into its matching algorithm (which is based on Everwise’s studies of some 60,000 mentoring partnerships) to pair him or her with a volunteer executive from another company with complementary skills to serve as a mentor. The idea is that sometimes people aren’t always the best at choosing the right mentor on their own.
“Mentor marketplaces as they exist today aren’t always working, because the people with most compelling titles and sexiest businesses get all the attention, even if they aren’t the right fit,” Bergelson said. “Everwise is like the eHarmony for mentoring… Our aim is to build longer lasting relationships that span with interactions over months.”
In addition to the software, Everwise provides a human element here too. The company has contracted live “relationship managers” who help shepherd the mentoring relationships from day one, checking in with phone calls and surveys to gather feedback and provide guidance.
There’s a price to this. Everwise charges each protégé $150 per month to use the site, and mentors, which are heavily vetted by the site, participate as volunteers. That might seem expensive, but at an enterprise level it’s been received well: Over the past year in Everwise’s private beta, companies such as Hewlett Packard, Direct Energy, and Sigma Aldrich have paid for their employees to find mentors through the program. “When we talk to companies about the pricing, our monthly price costs about the same as one day of management training,” Bergelson said.
Bergelson said that Everwise is different from other services in the mentoring space such as Clarity, since it is focused more on people in the corporate world than on entrepreneurs. Looking ahead, though, the company could look to scale out its technology and service beyond the white-collar sphere. Bergelson explained the vision like this:
“If we can figure out a way to provide a service that’s really valuable for really senior, swtiched-on, engaged Silicon Valley people at the HPs and the eBays of the world, and do that in a scalable way, then the platform and the technology could be used in lots of different contexts. Nowadays people have 11 jobs on average by time they’re in mid-thirties. Careers are ending up in places in infinite numbers of ways. The role of the mentor, the role of guidance, is even more important now than it has been.”
Everwise, which has raised just under $1 million in seed funding, has a full-time staff of 14.