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ECMC Group and University of Minnesota Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship to Provide $75,000 to Fund Mentoring Technology Platform

November 16, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS—Minneapolis-based ECMC Group, in partnership with the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, announced today that it is providing $75,000 for the further development of Tablmakr, a mentoring technology platform that connects students and mentors. The Tablmakr platform was developed by Ryan Wold, a 2021 member of the John DePodesta Leadership Fellowship Program, as part of his dissertation research that explores using communication technologies in ways that are aligned with humanity’s best interests.

Wold initially joined the DePodesta Leadership Fellowship Program in March 2021 and was provided funding through May 2022 to develop plans to launch his venture. He will receive $75,000 to continue his work through May 2023. The DePodesta Leadership Fellowship Program, launched in 2020, provides graduate students in business, public policy, sociology or education the opportunity to co-design or launch a new venture in partnership with existing educational organizations that seek to improve the quality of postsecondary education.

“Ryan has shown remarkable ingenuity and thoughtfulness in his efforts to create connections that lead to student success, which is a hallmark for the DePodesta Fellowship Program,” said Jeremy Wheaton, president and CEO of ECMC Group. “We look forward to seeing the impact of his work and how it addresses challenges facing postsecondary education in today’s environment.”

Wold’s Tablmakr platform is designed to simplify the process for anyone at a university to start and sustain a mentor program. The platform aims to provide an easy, inexpensive way for organizations to create small or niche mentor programs and to offer more students the opportunity to experience the benefits of mentorship. Tablmakr was a semifinalist in the 2021 MN Cup Education & Training Division.

“The DePodesta Fellowship provides an incredible opportunity to take everything I’ve been researching as a Ph.D. student for the last five years and turn it into something that could have a huge positive impact on society,” said Wold. “At so many points in my life I’ve been thankful to have great mentors, so I’m excited to use the DePodesta Fellowship to build a platform that will allow more people to experience the benefits of mentorship and being a mentor.”

Wold is pursuing his Ph.D. in rhetoric and scientific and technical communication while teaching courses on business writing and the rhetoric of technology. His research focuses on the intersection of technical communication and entrepreneurship.

The DePodesta Leadership Fellowship provides initial feasibility grants of $15,000 for up to four students each year. Subsequent launch grants of up to $75,000, as in Wold’s case, may be made available to students demonstrating strong progress with their concepts, significant potential impact from their venture and a commitment to operate the venture full-time for at least 12 months post-graduation.

“The DePodesta Fellowship provides financial and advisory support for student entrepreneurs at the University of Minnesota to solve meaningful problems,” said John Stavig, director of the Holmes Center. “Ryan’s continued work to bridge connections and simplify the mentorship process aligns with our shared mission to further society through innovation.”

The Fellowship was developed in recognition of John DePodesta, a founding board member and immediate past chair of ECMC Group, who has spent the past 25+ years working to help students succeed.


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