December 12, 2018 – We recently sat down with Melissa Grizzle, ITEN’s Director of Entrepreneur Development, to hear more about ITEN’s launch of the community engagement platform, UNION, and the benefits it can bring to the ITEN community.
What is UNION?
UNION is a community engagement platform specifically designed for organizations that work with startups. Originally developed by the accelerator 1776, it is now an independent platform used by more than 75 organizations across the globe to more effectively facilitate connections, deploy resources and communicate information within their individual communities.
What are the benefits of a community engagement platform to the ITEN community?
There are many, but the one I’m the most excited about is that for the first time all members of our community can see each other and connect. Our startup companies and their team members, as well as Mentors and staff will have profiles, and the ability to connect directly with each other. We currently have over 200 active startup companies so there is definitely the potential for some impactful peer-to-peer learning to occur.
What specific features do you think will be the most helpful?
We were also hearing from our entrepreneurs that it would be great to have a place to track their engagements with mentors, along with the advice and feedback they were given, and they will now have this with UNION. When meetings with mentors are booked using the UNION calendar, it triggers two-way feedback surveys so the specific takeaways from the meeting become part of an Insights Dashboard for founders, and founders can also give us feedback on mentors.
Also the Discussion feature allows anyone on the platform to put questions or information out to the community. We often have our members emailing us asking “Do you know someone who has this skill/experienced this situation, etc?” Now they can put those questions out to 200+ people who can offer their input and help.
What recommendations do you have for ITEN companies and mentors when it comes to getting the most out of UNION?
First, make your profile as robust as possible. This is your front-facing persona to hundreds of others so you should put your best foot forward—and make it easy for those that can help you, or will find your products valuable, to do so. And, simply put–use it. Engage with people in the community, post your questions, check out all the great resources on the Learn tab. Not only do we have our EUREKA! Validation Modules, Investor Readiness Program, and Business Canvas resources, you can also access publicly available resources from all the other organizations worldwide that are using UNION.
Anything else you want people to know or do?
If you are a startup or mentor who has not set-up your profile please do so by December 31. To get your profile set up go to: https://UNION.vc/iten and click the link next to “Need to finish creating an account?” And definitely reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or issues.
If you aren’t yet an ITEN company and you’re a tech startup, go to our website www.itenstl.org and click the Register as a Startup button. Or if you are interested in becoming a mentor, there’s a button on the website for you as well to apply!
Since our founding in 2008, we have prided ourselves on taking our learnings from the “frontlines” of tech entrepreneurship along with input from our community to strengthen our programs and services. We are very excited to add this latest tool that will allow us to have even greater impact.