For years, Phil George was the executive sponsor of a mentoring program at McMaster-Carr, an industrial hardware supplier, where he spent weeks trying to match program participants with only scant information about them to go on. Employees often requested resources while mentors asked for training, and mentees wanted more guidance on goals. And as the program progressed, there weren’t reliable methods in place to measure success.
“The program was highly inefficient, which made it impossible to scale to the rest of the company in order to leverage the benefits of mentoring across the organization,” George told TechCrunch in an email interview.
Informed by the experience at McMaster-Carr and mentorship conversations with other companies, George left his role in 2012 to team up with his brother, Andy George, and former colleague Miles Ulrich to found an employee mentoring software and white glove service startup. It came to be known as MentorcliQ, and — within a few years, with the pandemic as an accelerant — it grew its customer base to hundreds of companies.
MentorcliQ today closed an “over-$80 million” growth investment from PSG with participation from Rev1 Ventures and Plymouth Growth, bringing its total raised to more than $100 million. George says that the funding will be put toward product development and ramping up MentorcliQ’s customer acquisition efforts.
“MentorcliQ is a mentoring software platform that helps companies solve exceedingly common and expensive employee engagement, development and retention challenges,” George said. “Recent headlines tell a bleak story: quiet quitting, sweeping layoffs and falling short on DEI promises. All of this leads to employee disengagement for those left behind … MentorcliQ helps companies navigate these challenges by giving employees a way to develop their careers, hone their skills and build a community at work through mentoring.”
MentorcliQ occupies the increasingly crowded space of upskilling vendors, which VCs have patronized with great enthusiasm in light of the so-called Great Resignation. (From February 2021 to last February, investors have poured more than $2.1 billion into an assortment of companies in the skilling space, according to CrunchBase.) For example, GrowthSpace recently raised $25 million for its platform that leverages algorithms to match individual employees and groups of employees with experts for development sprints.
What sets MentorcliQ apart, George claims, is that it guides customers through the entire mentoring process. This includes designing and executing mentoring strategies, building and running mentoring programs, engaging mentoring participants and measuring the impact.
On the software side, MentorcliQ allows companies to run multiple mentoring programs from a single interface and control which users participate in the programs, as well as create participant profiles for each program. Companies can decide how mentor and mentee matches will be made in individual programs and see metrics like participation numbers, participant engagement and mentoring activity.
George drew attention to MentorcliQ’s matching algorithm, which he believes to be best-in-class. While most mentoring tools offer “bulk matching” options, which match all participants in a program at the same time, George explained, MentorcliQ’s algorithm attempts to optimize mentoring matches for an entire population of participants.
“MentorcliQ’s matching engine calculates match scores for every relationship combination while also factoring in matching rules, suggested matches, the timing of mentoring programs, employee turnover and new hires and other program-configurable variables,” George said. “The algorithm then looks at the landscape to find an optimal set of matches.”
While the tech industry’s outlook seems bleak, George — when asked about MentorcliQ’s growth strategy — said he believes companies will continue to invest in mentoring particularly as they search for cost-effective ways to leveraging existing talent.
He might be right. According to a recent study by Gartner and Capital Analytics, retention rates for mentees are 72% higher compared to 49% for employees who don’t participate in a mentorship program. Eighty-nine percent of mentees feel their colleagues value their work, moreover, versus 75% of employees without mentors, the same survey found.
“While companies often experience layoffs during times like these where there are economic headwinds, mentoring remains even more important to engage, develop and retain the employees who remain,” George said. “In tough times, it’s a feel-good ask of employees which leads to an incredibly high return on investment. Building culture while delivering return on investment is a winning combination during more challenging economic times.”
Signaling its expansion intentions, MentorcliQ recently hired a new chief revenue officer and plans to increase the size of its roughly 120-person team over the next 12 months.