A chance encounter with Kinkos founder Paul Orfalea changed the trajectory of Raad Mobrem’s life. He ran into the legendary founder on the street, recognized him and had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. “In the 15 minutes we had, I asked him about entrepreneurship, and he shared some key lessons that inspired me to want to start my own company — which I eventually did,” Mobrem says. “Years later, that same company would be acquired by Intuit and became the foundation of the new QuickBooks Online. In 15 minutes, my life completely changed because I got access to one person who is considered one of the best business experts of our time.”
Mobrem’s experience echoes what many successful founders say has been key to their success — learning from those who’ve gone before them. “I’ve noticed that the most successful and well-rounded people in this world are constantly learning and asking others who have accomplished various goals how they did it,” Mobrem says. “Why learn the hard way when you can ask others, who are considered the best, how they did it?”
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In addition to Orfalea, Mobrem learned from many other mentors as his career progressed, something he recognizes was an incredible privilege. He wanted to find a way to democratize this access to mentorship, so last year he launched Intro, a service that lets users book one-on-one calls with experts including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and designer and entrepreneur Rachel Zoe. “With Intro, we want to recreate this type of experience for people all around the world and bring down the barriers that prevent this type of access,” Mobrem says.
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How does it work?
Users who want to test out the product can browse Intro’s list of experts on its website, whose expertise ranges from business and interior design to nutrition and fashion. Its experts are available to book for calls ranging from 15 minutes to one hour. A 15-minute session with a high-profile expert like Ohanian or Zoe costs $776 or $1,000, respectively, though there are experts available for a range of prices.
Want to see if Kinkos founder Orfalea can offer you advice as good as what he gave Mobrem? He’s available for 30-minute calls. Like many experts on the platform, Orfalea donates the $550 he earns for that call to charity, in this case his Audacious Foundation.
The service isn’t inexpensive, to be sure, but the price pales in comparison to hiring a world-class interior designer or bidding on lunch with a legendary founder at a charity auction, for example.
So far, most experts have joined the platform after hearing about it within their networks. “The criteria are different for each category, but we tend to look for those who are respected and recognized in their own industry, who believe in the mission of giving access to more people with their knowledge and expertise,” Mobrem says.
Intro’s business and interior design categories have proved to be the most popular thus far, but it’s constantly adding new categories of experts. Mobrem’s goals are to continue expanding into new categories, add new experts and ensure the platform functions as seamlessly as possible. “We’ve learned that if we stick to that formula, the growth follows,” he says.
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