The Munich startup Mentessa wants to revolutionize mentoring programs in companies with its matchmaking app. The app aims to help employees quickly and simply find the right mentor for easily overcoming hierarchies or prejudices. We spoke with Tina Ruseva, co-founder of Mentessa.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
We’re Tina and Ivan, and we’re developing a matchmaking app for the office – a kind of business Tinder. You can use it to find the right expert at the right time to make working life better and happier. We met at Wayra, Téléfonica’s Open Innovation Hub, where we’re both residents. In the Wayra community, that kind of frequent communication among peers happens on a daily basis. It happens rarely in large companies. We’re both 37 and second-time founders from the software industry.
Make your own match
With our startup, we want to overcome obstacles to gaining informal knowledge, such as hierarchies and prejudice. Most importantly, we want reduce the amount of effort needed to create a working world of the future that is distinguished by diversity and collaboration. Our first customers are mentoring program providers who currently bring mentors and mentees together manually and manage tandem meetings with Excel tables and emails. What we offer instead is making matches yourself and directly, peer-to-peer. That means you can find one mentor each year or dozens each week, if you want. That transforms mentoring from a program into a resource. It’s a new kind of collaboration.
2. But that’s nothing out of the box!
Of course there’s nothing that doesn’t already exist. And yet: As a mentor in dozens of formats and a member of many communities, I’m still introduced to my mentees by email, then we have to contact each other, meet up and only then do we know if the chemistry is right or not. People are not just a collection of professional accomplishments and skills, but also of their values, interests and the sense of meaning they’re looking for. All of that can be measured really well online now. As a result, you get the right match faster and more efficiently, which gives you access to help more often and makes it easier to participate.
“This is the future of work!”
3. What are the three main ingredients in your recipe for success?
Mentessa is a decentralized matchmaking app that functions without a central point of contact. That saves on resources in HR departments, which can then be invested in valuable activities elsewhere, such as mentor training. After all, the peer-to-peer approach makes it possible for everyone to find a mentor or also become one. That not only has a scaling effect, but is also realistic — we all have strengths and can share them with others depending on the situation. This is the future of work! Our app creates holistic profiles that go far beyond professional bullet points like in LinkedIn. That makes it possible to bring people together based on skills and values to create purpose-driven tandems.
4. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?
Mentessa was founded in March. Pilot projects are currently running with Wayra and, starting in September, with the startup association ‘Start Munich.’ We’re very proud of that and hope to soon have 1,000 users on the platform. At the same time, we’ve also been talking with several large companies in and near Munich with the aim of generating our initial revenue with licenses.
“You can’t predict the future in startups or in life”
5. What does Munich mean to you?
I’ve spent half my life in Munich. The city is home to me. Most importantly, I attended my first business plan seminars here at the Technical University of Munich ten years ago, founded my first company Gymzap here and have been an active part of the Munich startup scene since then.
For Mentessa, Munich is beneficial as its location because it’s home to many large companies that need to prepare for the future working world and look for solutions to network and motivate their employees.
6. How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?
Hehe, you can’t predict the future in startups or in life. But we’re motivated, recognize the problem and have a lot of experience to offer. We’re supported by a lot of people. Now we just have to put in a whole lot more work — which is also how it works with unicorns too.
7. Isar River or English Garden?
English Garden! If for no other reason than to think back on the good old days at the LMU Entrepreneurship Center with Gymzap. We often took walks as team meetings there in summer. That time has shaped who I am to this day.