Anurag Yadav believes that mentorship can make the difference between someone excelling and falling behind in business school.
The problem is, few students — only 37% according to a recent estimate in Forbes — actually have a mentor. That’s why Yadav, a Class of 2021 India School of Business graduate, and colleagues Archit Maheshwari, Sarthak Verma, and Sarthak Bhatt have launched Career Edge, a tech startup that connects Indian students and working professionals with mentorship opportunities.
Career Edge helps current and prospective Indian MBA students in two ways: Those aspiring to get into business school are provided mentors to improve their resumes, interview skills, and gain support throughout the application process. Those already in business school can work with mentors to prepare for job interviews and gain exposure to different career opportunities and industries.
‘A MENTOR IS SOMEONE WHO ALLOWS YOU TO SEE THE HOPE INSIDE YOURSELF’
Describing Career Edge as a career preparation partner that helps people gain acceptance to business school or land a job at their dream company, Yadav says he and his team offer one-on-one mentorship, workshops, bootcamps, and masterclasses. The goal: to democratize career and B-school preparation in India — and, eventually, beyond.
Yadav says the access to mentorship was widely available at ISB. Grateful for the role it played in his B-school experience, upon graduation he landed a role as senior consultant at global consulting firm Dalberg.
But had it not been for guidance from ISB alumni, he says, his post-graduation landscape could have been much different. In fact, Yadav explains that in India, only those who attend top-tier business schools get access to their alumni network. “If someone tells you that you can achieve your dreams, it can make a difference,” he says. “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”
HELPING MENTORSHIP BECOME WIDELY ACCESSIBLE
He wants to use Career Edge to create a more equal playing field for young professionals. It will do so, he says, by making mentorship accessible and easy: The platform asks students to input what industry they’re interested in. Then, they get matched with a mentor that aligns with their goals.
While it’s a for-profit venture, the team ensures that services remain accessible by charging mentees small, affordable fees.
Yadav says that monetarily incentivizing Career Edge mentors is vital to ensuring its sustainability. “It’s not just a phone call,” he says. “Those involved need to be serious about mentorship.”
However, Yadav says that some mentors offer their services pro-bono. “There’s a lot of people who want to give back to society right now,” he says.
Since starting this venture in June 2021, the co-founders have onboarded over 100 mentors and nearly 1,000 mentees. Plus, they’ve impacted over 6,000 students at more than 20 Indian colleges.
MENTORS HAIL FROM McKINSEY, MICROSOFT, GOLDMAN SACHS & MORE
But it didn’t happen overnight; the idea for Career Edge came to the co-founders during a fundraising event at ISB. When India was hit hard with the covid-19 virus, ISB created an initiative to provide a monetary donation and get a mentorship session in exchange. This money went to organizations helping to support people through the pandemic.
Inspired by this initiative, Yadav, Maheshwari, Verma, and Bhatt saw it as a business opportunity; they wanted to help mentorship become more widely accessible and help each other have success. “We talked to a lot of ISB profs and alumni before actually starting this,” says Yadav. “Many thought that this idea was worth pursuing.”
“Before Covid, I’m not sure if people would have been comfortable with online mentorship,” he adds.
To build credibility, they’ve brought on mentors from well-known, reputable companies such as McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Dalberg, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Bain & Company, and BCG. Plus, a large majority of mentors – 40% – are ISB alumni. “In India, the population is so large. People trust the brand more than you as a person, so we’re bringing on mentors from big companies,” he says.
‘THE DREAM IS TO MAKE THIS AS BIG AS POSSIBLE’
The team has big hopes for 2022; already, they’ve hired freelancers to develop their branding and build their website. Eventually, the co-founders want to onboard mental health mentors, such as counselors and psychologists. Plus, they’re planning on creating an app where mentees can type in what they’re looking for and they’ll be set up with the best possible mentor through automated filters.
“The dream is to make this as big as possible,” he says.
After five to six years, Yadav’s hope is to start a foundation alongside Career Edge. This foundation would be geared towards social impact and helping underprivileged people gain an education. “The idea is to make money from those who can afford it, and then use that money to help people who are in need – such as those in rural India who don’t have access to any sort of technology or guidance,” he says.
Right now, the team is focused on organically growing their business – and money – with the main focus on creating equal opportunity to have success.
“You only need a small amount of money to really live your life,” continues Yadav. “Anything extra should go towards creating an equitable environment.”