The year was 2001. It was a different world out there - before iPhone, before Android. A world where Bjorn Stansvik moved from Sweden to Minnesota, USA, to start a company aiming to develop a mobile language learning app.
The application was for Palm Pilot, and it was called MentorMate.
This is how far back we can trace the roots of one of the newest members of Telerik Academy's ever-growing partner network!
A lot has changed in the last 20 years, and today MentorMate
is so much more than an application for a long-gone operating system. Today, it's a company with over 850 team members working from all corners of the world and a company "led and run by software engineers" with over 1,500 projects built for more than 400 clients.
And it all started with a dream of an application ahead of its time!
The story of MentorMate is an inspirational one, especially if you are just starting to learn code with Telerik Academy Alpha
, because it shows the endless opportunities that the sector can give you.
So, to learn more about MentorMate's history, present, future, and the role of the junior talent growth, we talked to Nikolay Lyubchev, Director of Marketing and Talent Acquisition. Together with his team, Nikolay is responsible for maintaining and growing the MentorMate
brand's popularity amongst Bulgaria's tech community and hiring exceptional new talents.
Hi, Nikolay, it's nice talking to you! We can't wait to learn what happened to the MentorMate application and how it led to the creation of the company?
Well, in 2001, the project turned out to be tough, as it was essentially ahead of its time. A couple of years of searching for financing passed before Björn met two Bulgarian software developers and started a collaboration with them, seeing MentorMate's future as a service company instead.
This was also when the operations moved to Bulgaria. Then the team of two grew to around 10 people working on small projects from a little apartment in Sofia.
In 2010, a bigger client sought MentorMate's services, which turned the tides through the years so that now, in 2022, the company has over 850 team members working from all corners of the world, our project count goes beyond 1,500, and the number of clients we've built solutions for exceeds 400.
Since 2014, MentorMate has been part of Taylor Corporation, a USD-2-billion company with roots in the printing business that is, among other things, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA basketball team.
Who are your customers and partners?
We deliver a full package of services to help our clients with their digital transformation at scale. We have a long-term partnership with some of the largest global enterprise companies in the healthcare, financial services, and education sectors.
Among our clients are also medium-sized companies and start-ups. To name just a few, we've worked with AstraZeneca and UnitedHealth Group (healthcare), Royal Bank of Canada (finances), etc.
The COVID-19 breakout brought an immediate need for digital solutions, and MentorMate has been actively involved in helping combat the pandemic — by building software that helps with testing efforts, a product that boosts people's mental health, and a system keeping public places clean.
MentorMate is a company "led and run by software engineers". Could you elaborate on what it means?
Right from the start, managers of the company have been people who are software developers themselves. And having this solid tech perspective at every level of the company means we have such a deep understanding and knowledge of the software sector that there are rarely any boundaries for the solutions we build.
We see ourselves as technology agnostics — our stack includes over 30 programming languages, and we believe every technology could be considered a valid option to solve a problem.
When we speak of technology, it's important to note that while MentorMate's core service has historically been software development, our service list includes strategic consulting, design, cloud services, DevOps, quality assurance, and software support. Last year, we restructured our consulting practice and set up an Enterprise Architecture team to better serve the needs of our growing number of enterprise clients.
A Digital Experience Platform (DXP) team also came to life to assist enterprises in distributing content across multiple platforms. 2021 witnessed another milestone in MentorMate
— we acquired Data Cloud Solutions, a Bulgarian data management company and thus laid the foundation of our Data Center of Excellence. The acquisition will trigger us to pursue expansion into the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Last but not least, we successfully reimagined our branding and website.
MentorMate has seven offices. Five of them in Bulgaria - what are their primary goals?
The main goal of our offices in Bulgaria is to provide exciting career opportunities to software engineers in the country, access to challenging and meaningful projects, quality training for new software development and testing talents, and elevate highly skilled professionals to the next stage of their professional journey.
Even though we have five offices across the country (Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, and Ruse), we're long used to working remotely, even before the pandemic — with our colleagues collaborating from Bulgaria and the US since the beginning.
Two years in, MentorMate's operations are beyond the borders of any given country. In addition to our 800+ Bulgarian professionals, we have colleagues working remotely from anywhere in the world. And since the MentorMate folks are all fluent in English, communication between teams and team members flows naturally regardless of the physical distance. Collaboration and knowledge sharing are major parts of our work culture and success, and the remote model is yet another way to reach these cornerstones.
Your team works with various technologies, and we are curious - is there a current trend that shapes your area of work?
Currently, we have more than 100 active projects, some of which are for major companies in the healthcare industry. In one of them, we're helping one of the most influential healthcare organizations optimize its process of collecting and storing healthcare information, reducing costs, and developing a custom system that gathers and supports all types of information for clinical studies.
Our long-term partnerships are built on trust and outstanding results, measured in the betterment of human lives all over the globe.
Why do you invest in junior talent?
Learning and growing professionally have always been what drives us ahead, and we're perfectly aware that growing to become a top expert is a path that starts at a junior position.
Since the beginning, we have been investing in junior software talent - an excellent way to nurture the development of future software experts.
We were the first in Bulgaria to train people to become iOS Developers with our iOS Academy in 2012. Currently, our biggest training initiative is MentorMate DevCamp. This 4-month "earn-as-you-learn" program provides tutoring on various technologies. In the last DevCamp edition, over 120 trainees have boosted their dev skills. We've also been organizing a MentorMate QA Academy.
In 2021, we organized a program focused on accessibility testing. It helped people with impaired vision learn about testing software for accessibility and, later on, join MentorMate as trainees.
Our newest training initiative, Auto & QE Academy, starting in May, is tailored for people with QA experience who want to pursue a career in automation testing and quality engineering. We're also planning to launch a new DevCamp soon. Our training programs are all conducted online and free of charge, making them accessible to a broader audience.
Why did you choose Telerik Academy as your partner when it comes to sourcing master junior talent?
Telerik Academy provides excellent base training and informal education, contributing to the country's software industry development. We believe that together we can elevate the IT sector and educate the next generation of leading software development professionals.
What is next for MentorMate?
Our 5-year goal is to become one of the world's top software development agencies for digital transformation. We'll continue to invest our knowledge and expertise to create the next generation of software engineers!
Are you looking to jumpstart your career in IT? Find out more about our Telerik Academy Alpha programs
. Are you a company seeking Master Junior talent? Then go through our business page
or contact us directly