Chris Motley Helps Advance Careers for BIPOC Individuals

Mentor Spaces is a community-driven mentorship platform for diverse talent

Chris Motley wants to help large organizations be more diverse and inclusive, so he built a tech platform to ensure more BIPOC professionals have the tools for career advancement.

Motley is the founder and CEO of Mentor Spaces, a community-driven mentorship platform designed to make it easier for companies to attract, hire, and retain underrepresented talent.

Chris Motley, Founder and CEO of Mentor Spaces in front of a city background

Chris Motley

Founded in summer 2020, Mentor Spaces grew from Motley's experience connecting with a mentor while working at Goldman Sachs. He said his story and professional life could have been different had he not had this positive experience. Mentor Spaces manages a community of mentors and underrepresented professionals who can connect based on interests and goals and converse about career advancement. Users can create profiles on the organization's platform and match with one another based on interest. Mentor Spaces helps foster job referrals, shares career opportunities, hosts live group mentoring sessions and allows one-on-one conversations. 

"Our vision is to advance careers for underrepresented professionals through the power of mentorship," Motley told Lifewire in a phone interview. "I was thinking about how to use technology to help my people. I didn't see a lot of people that look like me in the rooms I was fortunate enough to be in, so I'm leveraging technology to close that gap."

Quick Facts

  • Name: Chris Motley
  • Age: 40
  • From: Southside of Chicago
  • Random delight: He was a part of a modern dance ministry at church growing up.
  • Key quote or motto: "When you get, give, and when you learn, teach." He heard this while dining with Oprah Winfrey!

An Innovation Mindset

Motley is proud of growing up on the South Side of Chicago. He left his hometown at a young age before attending Columbia University for college and working on Wall Street. He lives in Denver now, and he became attracted to the area when he began venturing into tech entrepreneurship. After struggling to find a barber, Motley launched his first business while attending boarding school in Rome, Georgia. He not only began cutting his hair, but he started cutting every Black boy's hair who attended Darlington School while he did. 

"I think I have always been an entrepreneur, and ultimately, it's just about solving problems at the end of the day," Motley said. "I learned how to cut my hair in eighth grade and by the time I started my freshman year at Darlington. It expanded my ability to cut anybody's hair, and that was one of the first businesses that I launched."

"I didn’t see a lot of people that look like me in the rooms I was fortunate enough to be in, so I’m leveraging technology to close that gap."

Motley said he approaches life and his career with an innovation mindset, which helps him as a Black entrepreneur. He's always thinking about how to solve problems and amplify underrepresented voices. With Mentor Spaces, Motley hopes more diverse talent gets seats at the table. The company started as a job matching tool before transforming into a robust mentorship platform.  

"The reason why it's hard to find diverse talent is because of the unique problems that the community faces related to confidence and social capital," Motley said. "Our point of view is that mentorship is the strategy to help large corporations attract, hire, retain, and advance underrepresented professionals."

Hurdles and Challenges 

Motley said being a successful entrepreneur is like running a 400-meter race, but when you're a BIPOC, you have to run the same race and jump the hurdles. Motley said everything just takes longer, from building a customer base and developing a minimum viable product to building trust with investors and hiring employees.

"We don't take any shortcuts, and everything is challenging," Motley said. "If something takes longer, I don't look at it as a negative; I just approach it like it's a part of the course."

Mentor Spaces CEO, Chris Motley, and VP of Operations, Kunal Parbadia

Mentor Spaces

Mentor Spaces has raised $4.5 million in venture capital, but Motley actually invested his personal 401K in launching the company in 2020. While he said this wasn't smart, Motley was willing to bet on himself because he believed in Mentor Spaces' mission that much. The venture capital the organization has brought includes VC investments, pitch competition wins, and grants. 

"I couldn't ask people to invest in my idea if I wasn't willing to invest my own money," Motley said. 

Motley wants to put Mentor Spaces in a position to raise a Series A, build out the company's customer list, and launch the next major iteration of the platform over the next year. 

"We want to be the best mentorship solution in the world," Motley said.

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