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Increasing your impact through the power of good mentorship

Posted 2 years ago in Small business by Erin Smith
Posted by Erin Smith

In 2016, Lucy Lloyd and co-founder Heidi Holmes launched Mentorloop, a ‘dating site’ for business mentors that helped people transition into successful futures. Fuelled by curiosity and a passion for self-development, Lucy’s journey has taken her from rural Western Victoria to Melbourne to London and back again. Along the way she’s regularly found herself in the right place at the right time.

My dad was a farmer – and when you’re a farmer, you’re an entrepreneur. You do every single job that needs doing: you’re a mechanic, you’re a plumber, you’re a butcher. And that approach to running your own business inspired me. Combined with this, my mum was a teacher, from a long line of teachers, and a passion for education is in my blood. So with entrepreneurship plus education, Mentorloop – helping people to upskill and drive their own development – was the natural result.

The inspiration for Mentorloop

I went to school in the country until I was 15, then moved to Melbourne. I met my co-founder Heidi on my first day of school there!

After high school, I studied for a degree in economics and French – not exactly great subjects for a defined career path. I thought briefly about a career in the United Nations, too, but life didn’t work out that way.

In 2006 I chased a love affair over to London and fell into working at digital agencies. I found myself developing websites and digital strategies for bars and restaurants. The digital realm was like the Wild West in those days – everything was new. Google Maps had just come out, Facebook had just launched in the States. It was all happening and quickly! I saw how small brands and companies – as small as the local café – were empowered to drive their own marketing in the relatively cheap, low-barriers-to-entry digital realm.

I returned here to Melbourne in 2009, and found it was a bit like the Wild West too. The digital industry was fragmented, so it was an exciting time to know a little bit across all the various digital streams. I worked for digital development agencies, helping businesses use technology to solve their business problems, not just marketing problems. It was the experience of working with an organisational development company who were building an app for wellbeing in the workplace that was the inspiration for Mentorloop.

A dating site for mentors

Like all our big business decisions, Heidi and I had the idea for Mentorloop over a glass of wine. We were engaged in a ‘peer mentoring’ discussion, helping each other through our career transitions, and we thought, “Why isn’t there a dating site for mentor relationships?” We imagined a place where you can meet that person who’s got some great advice, or is that little bit ahead of you. It would be a place where you could meet with the future version of yourself and transition into the bigger and better you.

Mentorloop was squeezed in around our full-time jobs. We eventually reached a point where we said, “Will we or won’t we? Is there enough in this thing to jump into it full-time?” We admit, the first version of the product was pretty terrible, but gradually we gained some traction with our clients, so we knew we were solving a real pain point for them. In the middle of 2016, we got the uptake we needed to go all in. We’re a team of 11 now.

The human side of relationships

We believe in the power of a personal ‘advisory board’: you don’t have just one mentor you check in with monthly, you have a variety of different mentors with different strengths. They might be a cheerleader, they might be a subject matter expert, they might be a peer who can hold up a mirror to your thoughts. Your mentors are there for the problems where their expertise is most appropriate.

We do have quantitative metrics that we track – obviously the dollars, the number of matches, the satisfaction ratings. But Mentorloop is more about the human side of relationships. Every relationship is different, so we don’t pre-define what success is – we ask clients to tell us what success looks like in this relationship. Then we give them a way to measure against that – so they have personal analytics for the success of professional and personal goals.

Don’t go it alone

We’re still building Mentorloop – we’re only two years old. We’re continuing to find awesome clients who put their people first, and we’re helping more companies build people-first cultures. And we’re also looking for a more concerted expansion into the UK.

If I could look back and give others some advice, I’d say find a partner – find a co-founder, find a peer, find someone you can start your business with. I see amazing people going it alone, but it’s tough. When you’ve got someone who’s your peer mentor/co-founder/partner, it not only makes everything so much easier, it also increases exponentially the impact you can have.

Watch how Lucy and Heidi started their business and you can hear more from Lucy on our First Year Frontiers Podcast, where she shares her highs and lows of her first year as a small business owner.

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