Speed Dating for Startups

By: Emily Lindemer - Hey,Charlie

How one company found the mentor they never knew the needed.

We had no idea of what to expect when we came to the PULSE Mentor Matching event on January 24th.

We’re one of those companies that are so small and so early-stage that it’s hard to even know what mentorship should look like at this point. Our company, Hey,Charlie, is focused on helping individuals who are in recovery for opioid use disorder. We specifically focus on social network rebuilding and identifying environmental triggers in real-time to provide coping strategies when they’re needed most.

The Mentor Matching event by PULSE@MassChallenge was set up like a speed-dating event: as a startup we had five minutes with each mentor to introduce ourselves, learn about the mentor, and figure out if there is anything that they could offer us, or how they could be beneficial to our company. We cycled through a wide variety of mentors — lawyers, investors, engineers. Even those who couldn’t offer direct help offered to connect us with someone who could. The tough thing for us, though, was that many of these offerings were too specific because we’re so early stage. We needed a visionary; someone who could connect with our mission and explore it with us.

While it’s nearly impossible to turn on the news and not hear about the current opioid epidemic, it’s surprisingly difficult to figure out how to get a tool like ours into the hands of patients. What we wanted the most out of the PULSE Mentor Matching event was to be able to connect with someone who could think big about this problem and help us go deeper.

When the final gong went off to end the speed-dating rounds, I had a stack of business cards with offerings ranging from regulatory help to software design, but I was still unsure which one was the most important to pick as The One. I looked across the room and saw my co-founder, Vinny Valant, still chatting with his last-round mentors, so I decided to walk over and join them. The group of mentors he was chatting with included an independent product developer and a principal engineer at a design firm with experience in a wide variety of development projects. They were intrigued by the Hey,Charlie platform, but more importantly, they were excited (!) to see such an early-stage company with such a broad range of mentorship needs. The longer we talked with them, the more we connected. By the end of the chat we felt like they really understood our vision and we immediately set up our first post-event whiteboard session.

This experience epitomizes what I believe to be PULSE’s greatest strength and what sets it apart as an accelerator: it caters to startups that are at different stages and draws on such a vast network of expertise.

With PULSE, we feel like we can’t lose.

Author: Emily Lindemer, Founder & CEO, Hey,Charlie