In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Rune Hauge. Rune is the co-founder and CEO of Mentorcam, a marketplace where people can access high-profile mentors for 1:1 advice.
Having access to an expert in your field can help you get to where you want to go faster. However, getting access to great mentors today is often difficult. Mentorcam is changing the game by making it easy and seamless for you to do just that. The platform connects people to the mentors they admire for personalized advice and mentorship.
In this episode, I talk with the co-founder and CEO of Mentorcam, Rune Hauge, about how he’s redefining mentorship by making it easier for entrepreneurs to gain access to expert advice and support.
Questions I ask Rune Hauge:
- [1:11] You’ve got a fairly legitimate entrepreneurial journey behind you before MentorCamp. Could you share a little bit about your various adventures?
- [2:30] What are the good things, the hard things, and the easy things about building a tech startup?
- [4:17] Where did the idea for MentorCam come from, and what made you think that there was a need for it?
- [5:31] You talked about this idea of iterating, changing and being open to like what the market tells you. What have you learned along the way that has caused you to alter your path?
- [7:05] You’ve got a marketplace model – in some ways, you actually have to create your product and your buyer. Is that an additional challenge?
- [9:26] Would you say you are redefining mentorship?
- [10:34] Who makes a good mentor for your platform?
- [11:27] As a mentee, what are the best practices for getting the most out of your mentor?
- [12:44] Have you begun to study any kind of outcomes? Are people seeing success from getting this kind of mentorship and support?
- [13:39] Can you give us a gauge of the size of your platform today?
- [14:22] Where do you see this going five years from now, and do you see this as something that is a standard business practice by people that are getting started?
- [15:40] If I want to engage a mentor, how does the process work?
- [16:48] Could you share what I can expect to pay for something like this?
- [18:10] Is there anything else you want to share if people want to connect or find out more about your work?
More About Rune Hauge:
- Learn more about Rune’s company — MentorCam
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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the gain grow, retain podcast, hosted by Jeff Bruns Bach and Jay Nathan brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network gain grow retain is built to inspire SAS and technology leaders who are facing day to day. Challenges of scaling Jeff and Jay share conversations about grow growing and scaling subscription businesses with a customer first approach, check out all the episodes. Recently, they did one on onboarding, such a key thing when you wanna get going, keep and retain those clients. So listen to gain, grow, retain wherever you get your podcast.
John Jantsch (00:48): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Rune Hauge. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Mentorcam, which is a marketplace where people can access high profile mentors for one to one advice. So Rune welcome to the show.
Rune Hauge (01:09): Thanks, John. It’s great being here.
John Jantsch (01:11): So you’ve got a fairly legitimate entrepreneurial journey behind you before mentor cam. I wonder if you could kind of share a little bit about your various adventures?
Rune Hauge (01:22): Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I, I came, I’m originally from Norway and I came to the United States, uh, a little over 10 years ago as an exchange student as I was pursuing. Um, my, my MBA and yeah, as often happens, I, I, I, I met a girl. I scrapped all my plans to, to, to go home to Norway and have a, a, a regular corporate career. And, and I didn’t have a work permit or anything at the time. So I started my own company. I started an apparel company where we, we wanted to do ski base layers, but no one wanted to buy the base layers. So we, we ended up doing underwear and did that, uh, a few years. It didn’t work out with a girl, but the company worked out and, and that subsequently after a few years, and, and I had, I found myself in San Francisco where, where there’s a big tech scene and then transitioned into, to doing tech. I found, uh, a tech startup, a video commerce startup, and fast forward a, a couple of years, that startup kind of fizzle out. And then, and now I’m doing mentor cam. Yeah.
John Jantsch (02:29): Well, awesome. So what is it what’s been your experience. Maybe you can talk about the good things, the hard things, the easy things about building a, a tech startup. I mean, mentor cam is essentially a, you know, a tech play, uh, obviously they’re human fee human features about it, but what’s what have been some of the learnings about, especially, I guess, since you had another tech startup, what have been some of the things you’ve learned in trying to get this one off the ground?
Rune Hauge (02:57): Yeah. That’s a great question, John, and a few things that has been a good learning experience for me personally, do doing more of these tech type startups where you, you essentially, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of capital you need. So a big difference between that and retail, where you also need capital where you often, but you, you typically raise a lot of money and that’s big when you do when you do tech. And I, I think it’s very important to balance what, you know, the capital that you have available when you’re raise and how much you’re actually spending, right? Cause you want to scale, but you don’t wanna scale before you have product markets and product markets. You, it meaning that people are just repeatedly buying this with, with, with, with less effort, right. Which, which is a little bit different than if you’re selling apparel, for example, cuz you know that there’s a need for the type of product and is more of a branding plate. Uh, so I think that’s one thing. And then another thing is to build something that people want and to really always get feedback on what you’re building quickly and iterate really fast. That’s extremely important when you, when you do a tech company, because it is going to require capital to do it and you don’t wanna waste capital trying to scale something that, that people don’t really want.
John Jantsch (04:18): Where did the idea and we’ll get into of more details, but where’d the idea ferment cam come from. I mean, where, what made you think that there was a need for it?
Rune Hauge (04:27): So I, I, I remember when I was in college, I, I studied economics and, and I, I was interested in a career in finance at the time, but I didn’t really know anyone who did finance and I didn’t have a family background where I, and really tap into and wanted for knowledge about this aside from what I learned through coursework in, in, in school. So I was smashed with a mentor through a merit driven program in college that helped me tremendously and also helped me find out that, you know, finance wasn’t really my, my, my thing necessarily. And I think generally speaking is very difficult to access good men. I think most people can agree that having a mentor, having an advisor or access to experts is can be tremendously helpful, but the vast majority of, of people have not had. So, so that’s where the idea came from. And we want to democratize that access and, and provide mentorship and advice in a manner that is accessible to, to more founders, to more business owners, to more, I guess, people and in general are looking to grow their, their careers and grow professionally.
John Jantsch (05:32): So what, what’s a way, maybe you talked about this idea of iterating, changing, you know, being open to like what the market tells you, you know, kind of thing. What’s been a learning that you, I mean, have you have, are you on the exact same path you started on or have you altered your path with mentor camp?
Rune Hauge (05:49): Oh, we we’ve made many changes. Yeah. Yeah. So we, we started out with the assumption that just one small piece of advice is, is really often what you need to get to where you want. So we did everything asynchronously because it’s very low touch on the mentor side. So for example, if you, you could find a mentor on, on, on, on mentor cam, right? Someone like yourself and ask them about marketing advice and you’ll get a video response. But what we discovered quickly was that the, well, this can be effective. In many cases, our, our users were, were telling us that they really wanted to do a live call and the mentors as well. So now we, we started offering, uh, 20 million live calls, mentor Kim, and it’s, it’s been tremendously well received because you can do these live calls, maybe on a monthly basis and then ask questions in between asynchronously. So that’s one iteration. Another iteration is making it more, making it more specific to the needs of the, the end U. And what I mean by that is, is really understanding their challenges and their problems and making sure that we have mentors on the platform that could actually solve them. Right. So we’ve gone from having more, we used to have quite a few celebrities and famous people on the platform, which we still do. Now. It’s really more about the credentials and the strengths of the knowledge that the, the mentors have.
John Jantsch (07:05): Yeah. In a way you’ve got kind of a marketplace model. I mean, you have to actually get the mentors and you have to get people to buy from the mentors for this to work. So it’s almost like a real estate, you know, deal. You have to have a home and you have to have a home buyer home sellers. I mean, you have to actually create, in some ways your product and your buyer, is that an additional challenge?
Rune Hauge (07:27): It is because you sort of have to predict the buyer needs and you have to make some bads on certain niches. So that the analogy that you made to real estate is good because it’s very difficult to be good commercial real estate, single family homes and suburban areas and condos and, and urban areas at the same time or, or at least starting out that way. Right. So, so for us, it’s just focusing on certain topics, certain categories that we believe that sufficiently large enough amount of people are interested in, in solutions song. So for example, entrepreneurship, startups, and, and, and building businesses, that’s a sort of a group of topics that we found that, uh, a lot of people are interested in and then we just have to resist the temptation to go too broad, too fast.
John Jantsch (08:13): And now let’s hear from a sponsor. This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by mentorcam. It’s a marketplace where you can connect with subject matter experts. One to one, you book a short live call or ask your questions via text or video. There are a number of different experts on the platform and categories related to marketing revenue, generation and growth. In fact, I just recently joined as a mentor myself. So if you wanna book a time to connect with me personally, and talk about marketing for your business, go to mentor.cam. That’s mentor.cam or download the mentor cam app and search for my name in the search bar. And Hey, use the promo code duct: D U C T for 30% off your first booking.
John Jantsch (09:00): So as I heard you describe your mentor in college, that was more of a personal long term relationship. That’s that I think a lot of people tend to think of when they think of mentorship. It’s somebody that you might meet with once a month or once a quarter, maybe for a long time. You, your model effectively allows somebody to go on there and say, Hey, I wanna have a 20 minute conversation with on this day. And you might not actually talk to them again. I mean, you address a specific problem. You got the answer you wanted. Are you in some ways redefining mentorship with that? Or how, how do you view that
Rune Hauge (09:33): To, to some extent, because it’s mentorship on the a man. I, I, I think on the other hand and the model that we have allows you to tap into different types of mentors at different times, like I had a really great relationship with, with my mentors still that I had in college, although it’s not necessarily a, a mentorship relationship still. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so, so she used to be the, the president of Citi group of, of Norway where I’m from. And I made a lot of sense at the time. Right. But the challenges and the solutions that I was looking for coming outta college. Yeah. And it would’ve made sense that I stayed in finance to kind of tap into her knowledge as a mentor, but I still lean on her for more, you know, general type of advice. But I think having access to multiple mentors without having to have the massive network that you always would ha need to have. That’s something that we are, I think, changing to, to, to some extent, because you can get access to all these different people on demand without necessarily knowing them in advance or having an in by means of an introduction.
John Jantsch (10:34): So how let’s talk a bit, a little bit about, and, and I know you you’re fairly early on in the journey, but you know, what makes a good mentor or who makes a good mentor, do you think for your
Rune Hauge (10:43): Platform? I think someone who is passionate about paying it forward, helping other people. And I think even though, obviously we’re a business, so, so, so you pay to access these mentors, our best mentors don’t really care about the money. And we, we have a lot of mentors that never actually question are payouts. So, so, so really genuinely caring about helping people. And then I think the subject matter expertise, right. That makes a really good mentor. So knowing something about, for example, startup fundraising, knowing something about marketing for small businesses, like these types of this types of, of, of knowledge is also important, I think is if you combine these two things, then you’re on your way, at least, and you’re having what it takes to be a, a good mentor.
John Jantsch (11:28): All right. So let’s flip that around. You know, obviously there are a lot of people that, you know, they’re buying 20 minutes at a time maybe, or, you know, very short, uh, conversations. I mean, how do you, what’s a, what are the best part practices for getting the most out of your mentor, you know, as a mentee.
Rune Hauge (11:43): So there is some science behind the 20 minutes, so we’ve discovered and others have before us too, we looked it up that 20 minutes is a perfected amount of time to just get straight to the case. Right. And you avoid all the fluff. And what happens beyond 20 minutes is you start talking about other that that’s off topic. And I think the best way to get the most out of it is to come prepared. Yeah. With what you want to talk about. And, and, and the specific questions that you want to ask, even though you are having a cover. So this might, um, evolve, but, but, but really have a good, having a good understanding of what it is that you’re looking to solve. Are you looking to, are you looking at ways to structure a fundraising process? Are you looking to, are you looking to improve your search rankings or are, are you looking to understand paid media better and how that can be helpful for your business? Knowing this in advance will be very helpful. Of course you don’t know the answers and that’s why you’re tapping into the knowledge of a mentor.
John Jantsch (12:44): Yeah. Ha have, have you begun to study any kind of outcomes? So in other words, like are people being successful, you know, getting this help and are they able to translate that into something that they might execute?
Rune Hauge (12:58): Yes. Yes, absolutely. We have use cases where people were able to sign your co-founder equity splits. People were able to actually launch a brand with the help of a mentor or outline a, a sales strategy to get their first customers. Yeah. Right. So, so, so these are very tangible outcomes that we see from these types of relationships and it doesn’t, or these types of, of connections, I should say that, that, that sometimes evolve to relationships. And that’s what makes this very impactful and also really rewarding to, to work on because it does feel good to help people. And it does feel good to make these types of connections that have people ultimately grow.
John Jantsch (13:37): So I don’t know if you wanna talk about numbers or not, but I’m sure people, you know, what’s the size of the platform today. How many mentors, how many mentoring sessions, again, I don’t know how much you wanna share, but, uh, just to get us a little bit of a measurement of where, or gauge of where you are today.
Rune Hauge (13:52): Yeah. So we have more than 80 mentors on the platform. We, we are very particular in who, who joins. We have a little over a thousand, uh, applicants already, and it’s growing on, on the end user side without, because the space is getting competitive. So without getting too much into the numbers, we’re growing 80% month on month. So it’s definitely a model. I think that people are interesting in interested in. And I think we’re, we’re able to match relevant ventures with relevant demand.
John Jantsch (14:22): Where do you see this going five years from now? Is this, is this something that is just a standard business practice by, you know, by people that are getting started?
Rune Hauge (14:32): No. So our, our vision is really to provide access to expert advice at scale, that doesn’t currently exist. If you want to access someone on LinkedIn code that you don’t know, you’re probably gonna have to ping a, a very large cohort of, of people to the extent that are going to be annoyed by you. And you ruin the potential for, for a relationship because here it feels very salesy, right? And, and then beyond that, I think these serendipitous encounters, so you get through these connections, I think also lays the foundation of a community where people, well, also mentors can attain knowledge and connect with one another, right? And I, this currently doesn’t exist today. And that’s what we’re ultimately looking to build. We want more people to have access to the knowledge that will help them find solutions to their professional challenges. And that’s, that’s what we essentially set out to build. And then that’s what we are, are currently building.
John Jantsch (15:38): So let’s just go very, uh, granular if I want to engage a mentor, you know, how does the process work?
Rune Hauge (15:46): Yeah. So you go either to the website, mentor.cam, or you download the app, you search for mentor cam and, and the app store is available both on iOS and, and on Android. And there’s a quick onboarding process where you select the, the, the topics and the types of mentors that you’re interested in. So for example, uh, startup mentors or career change mentors, and they will be presented with a, uh, a list of different types, some mentors that are expert in different types of topics, and you select the mentor that you want to talk. And then you either book a live call with that mentor for 20 minutes, or you can also send a message and get a video response with a piece of advice in return and it’s pay as you go. So there’s nothing, there’s no payment required in for you to brows around and find a mentor, but, but you’re essentially paying when you, when you book the, the session.
John Jantsch (16:40): So what I imagine there’s a range, what are the ranges of prices that, or fees that, that I can expect to pay if I’m going to engage a mentor?
Rune Hauge (16:49): Yeah. So we, we, we want to make it accessible. And as mentioned before, the vast majority of the mentors don’t actually do it for the money. I think most people will find it pretty. Um, we’ll find the price is very acceptable. It starts at, at $20 for, uh, a video message, a three minute video message. Typically the message is ranged between 20 and a hundred dollars. And the live call are, are usually between 50 and $500.
John Jantsch (17:18): And if, if I wanted to engage, let’s say, I, I, I really connected with a mentor and I, I maybe wanted to have them do like a half day workshop with my team or something. And they, if they were open to that, is that, that, that beyond mentor cam, I assume.
Rune Hauge (17:34): Yeah. That that’s not something we’re offering currently the offering centers around one in one personalized advice. Yeah. However, we don’t inhibit the mentors to do anything that they want outside of this. A lot of times these are people that don’t do, they don’t necessarily do advice for money otherwise. Yeah, yeah. Right. So usually the only way to access them for this is, is through Metro cam. Yeah.
John Jantsch (17:56): And so it’s, it’s just mentor a.cam. I wasn’t familiar with the cam extension for URLs, but that’s mentor.cam. So I was gonna tell you invite people, but we’ve pretty much done that through the whole show. So, but they, they know where the URL is. Anything else you wanna share if people wanna connect or find out more about your work?
Rune Hauge (18:15): Well, I am on mentoring myself. Yeah. And, uh, so, so, so if you wanna find out more, you can find me there. And, uh, yeah, I would encourage you if you’re interested in some of the topics that, that we offer to take a look and see if this is something that interests you and hopeful, you can find a mentor as well. We also do mentor matching. So that that’s a possibility as well, that, that you can, that, that you can access on mentor
John Jantsch (18:37): Camp. And of course, of interest to me. So probably of interest to a lot of the listeners, there is a pretty robust, small business section or channel. I notice that seems to be growing. So there are a lot of small business owners. Listen to my show. There are the, are a number of small business mentors. Uh, I happen to actually be on the, uh, on mentor cam as a mentor for small business as well.
Rune Hauge (18:56): Exactly, exactly. We’re very glad to have you, John.
John Jantsch (19:00): Thank you. So, uh, Rune, it was, uh, great having you stop by the duct tape marketing, uh, podcast. And, uh, hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days when I’m out on the road
Rune Hauge (19:10): Ops. Absolutely. Thanks for having me, John.
John Jantsch (19:12): All right. That wraps up another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. I wanna thank you so much for tuning in, feel free to share this show. Feel free to give us reviews. You know, we love those things. Also, did you know that we had created training, marketing training for your team? If you’ve got employees, if you’ve got a staff member wants to learn a marketing system, how to install that marketing system in your business, check it out. It’s called the certified marketing manager program from duct tape marketing. You can find it at ducttapemarketing.com and just scroll down a little and find that tab that says training for your team.
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HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.
Mentorcam is a marketplace where you can connect with subject-matter experts 1:1. You can book a short live call or ask your questions via text or video, and you’ll find different experts on the platform in categories related to marketing, revenue generation, and growth. I just recently joined as a mentor myself, so if you want to book a time to connect with me personally and talk about marketing for your business, just go to mentor.cam (C-A-M) or download the Mentorcam app and search for my name in the search bar. Use promo code DUCT for 30% off your first booking.