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As founder of MentorMe, Britt Fitzpatrick recognized the huge need to help others advance in the technology field, early in her teens. “Mentoring has played a huge role in my life since youth. I’ve volunteered as a mentor for 10 years now, and have consulted with new and existing mentoring programs for almost three years. I started MentorMe to help social sector and for-profit organizations scale mentoring as a pathway to education and careers, says Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick’s passion to pursue technology came from the joy she felt from making things. “I’ve always enjoyed ‘making things.’ I particularly enjoyed taking things apart and trying to figure out how to put them back together to make something new using items out of my Granny’s ‘junk drawer.’ I started with VHS tapes and then moved on to old watches and jewelry boxes,â€ says Fitzpatrick.
“We got our first computer when I was in the 3rd grade and I was fascinated at the idea of making things inside the screen. I would spend hours playing a CD-ROM that I thought was teaching me how to “drawâ€ using the computer, but thanks to my mom, it was really teaching me math,â€ said Fitzpatrick. My mom was a Math major and a C.S. minor, and looking back most of my favorite “toysâ€ involved math or science in some way. When I got into grad school, I started taking a front-end development class where I learned HTML, CSS and Flash (when it was useful). I found myself learning more on my own, teaching myself more advanced Web development/design techniques outside of class, and eventually I was building websites for churches and small businesses on the side.â€
Using an “eHarmony” approach to mentor matching, MentorMe combines actionable intelligence and innovative mobile technology to better engage mentors and mentees. BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the trailblazer to learn more about her journey.
For Fitzpatrick’s transformative work in the technology field, she’s been recognized as one of the Top 10 Young Professionals in Memphis by the Memphis Chamber of Commerce,Â Top 50 under 40 byÂ American Express,Â Fall 2014 Points of Light Civic Accelerator, and aÂ 2014 Points of Light Civic Accelerator “Best Pitch,” to name a few.
BlackEnterprise.com: What inspired you to pursue a career in mentorship and technology?
Fitzpatrick: Â Professionally, I got into digital media marketing for nonprofits. The combination of working in the social sector; my natural interest in trying to figure out why things work they way they do so that I can make something new; and my interest in tech led to my passion for applying tech-based solutions to complex social problems.
You left your job to pursue entrepreneurship, please tell us about the biggest lesson you’ve learned from taking the leap from employee to entrepreneur?
“Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally.â€ It’s a quote from Janice Bryant Howroyd, the first African American woman to own a billion-dollar company.
Describe your experiences as a black woman in the tech space?
I have the same challenges as every other tech founder in trying to take a company from an idea to a scalable business. However, there are still some hidden biases within the tech culture that I’ve had to learn to navigate and am still learning to navigate. Rather than allow those attitudes or beliefs to define my entire experience in tech, though, I’ve used them as fuel to build a successful company so that I can open doors for others.
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