How this startup helps fans not only meet their favorite celebrities, but also learn from them

    When I train executives, we create a vision for success, think about how they will appear in the business, and train outside their comfort zone to achieve their highest potential.

    Often as part of our action plan, I encourage my clients to look for a “mentor” for more specific advice: someone who is more advanced than them in the chosen goal and can share lessons based on their journey in the field.

    But it is not always easy to find and work with the right mentor.

    For one thing, successful people usually have enough other commitments in their work and life. Although most mentors are generous when they give advice, it is difficult to ask a new person to take the time unless you have already developed a reliable relationship.

    In addition, the more successful and famous the mentor is, the more difficult it is to reach him. So if you don’t have any contact with them in person, it is virtually impossible to reach them in a way that motivates them to meet you.

    Raad Mubarak, founder of Series, has made it his mission to solve these and other challenges through his startup Intro.

    Founded Intro to make it easy to access expert guidance. But Intro is not a membership-based network of consultants and coaches like the other resources out there. It is a unique service where you can book video calls with celebrity experts who would otherwise not be available for specific advice and counseling to the general public.

    In December, I wrote in this column about my conversation with Melanie Steinbach, chief operating officer of Cameo, and the platform’s success in connecting ordinary people with their favorite celebrities and personalities.

    Intro does something similar but with a different end goal: it gives people the ability to receive a life-changing hour (or a fraction of an hour) of mentorship directly from their phone or desktop.

    I sat down with Raad to find out more about his story before founding Intro and his vision for the startup. he is company 35 Under 35s are passionate about the value of connecting experts with people they want to learn from because of how he has benefited from mentorship so early in his career.

    And he’s not alone in his desire to facilitate access to experts and influencers.

    Barely two years old, Intro has already raised funding led by Andreesen Horowitz and joined by many investors such as Seven Seven Six, CAA founder Michael Ovitz, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, 23 & Me CEO Anne Wojcicki, and celebrities like Kevin Hart and Kevin Durant and Tiffany Haddish et al.

    How access to mentors is a game changer

    Raad told me that his career started with an impromptu “instruction” conversation early in life.

    As a newly enrolled undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s, discovered across the street. He decided to go up to him and introduce himself.

    Orfalea didn’t need to take the time out of his day to answer this random teen’s questions, but he said yes. Within 15 minutes of their first conversation, Raad felt his future open up to him with clarity and confidence.

    He regularly met Orfalia throughout his college years, and the experienced founder strongly encouraged Raad to pursue a future in entrepreneurship.

    After graduation, Raad started his first company called Lettuce, an operating system for small businesses, which Intuit acquired in 2014. The software he created became the basis for QuickBooks Online, which he then ran during his time at Intuit.

    He told me that without Orphalia’s kindness and willingness to be a mentor, it’s not clear where Raad’s career would be today. Reflecting on how mentorship helped him create and sell his first company at the age of 27, Raad believes that everyone should be able to gain the expert’s ear in their field. And it should be easier for these experts to share their wisdom.

    When I asked Raad how much luck and hard work played a role in his early success, he acknowledged that both were a key factor, but the third factor was really important: access.

    In addition to Orfalea, he had access to other entrepreneurs as he set out to build his business – in some cases, those who created well-known and successful businesses – and learning from them helped ensure his success.

    “All I did was keep quiet and listen,” Raad told me.

    “I learned from them and worked accordingly for my own business. This really accelerated my journey.”

    He continued, “I love asking people – whether they are entrepreneurs, actors, musicians or famous artists –How did you become so good at what you do?

    “And listening to all of these people’s stories, I noticed one thing over and over again: They all had access to someone or a group of people who helped Instructs them for their greatness.”

    The origin of the introduction and its vision for the future

    Thunder thought a lot about the power of reaching out to mentors, even in short interactions. He has personally witnessed how just 10-15 minutes of conversation with an expert can lead to an epiphany that changes their world and fills them with confidence.

    And as the apprentice grows, they tend to push him up front in guiding others. Thunder told me,

    “Sometimes they don’t just go on being great, but they also create a better life for others. I just thought about the cascading effects” and how to make that happen to more people. “

    And in 2020, with the massive shifts in behavior during the pandemic that have prompted all of us to use video calling as part of our daily lives, Raad realized the time was right for his idea to emerge.

    “I really believe that video calls are the closest thing to being on a personal level. They give people the deepest sense of reaching the person they are talking to.

    “Plus, with the visual medium, you can do a lot of new things that you wouldn’t otherwise have. You can show your home decorator and get real, real advice without that person actually being there. It’s high quality information, and we’ve seen it work really well. good “.

    Over the years as an entrepreneur, Raad’s network has continued to grow, opening more doors for him. His story was proof that success generates more reach, which is why he wanted to give back to those looking for guidance.

    One of the famous experts with whom he knew well was the famous fashion designer Rachel Zoe, and she became an early proponent of the idea of ​​​​the introduction.

    You sign up to be an expert and offer video sessions for users to book. And it helped attract more experts to the service, who all shared the introduction with its fan base.

    Another supporter is Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian (and a major investor as well), which offers video tutorials on entrepreneurship and other topics. He believes in the purpose of Intro so much that he gives his time for video sessions but makes all payments to charity.

    And for those who remember watching him as a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus is in demand for users looking for video tips on designing their homes.

    Since these first experts were brought in, the platform had grown very quickly. Raad admitted, “Normally it doesn’t go that way right away, but in this case, they did.”

    When I asked about his vision for the next few years of Intro, Raad said it should stick to what makes Intro so unique and let it grow from there.

    “We want to give everyone access to the people who can empower them to make the world better.

    “In some cases, that might be someone’s world. Like if someone wanted to talk to a stylist for a little better dress.

    “For some people, it means nothing, but for that person, it means trust. This means that they will have the energy to go and take the world.

    “They might get the job they’ve always wanted, or they might make a deal they’ve always wanted to get. That goes a long way. Then the question is: What are the cascading effects of that?

    Raad continued, “My personal dream is that a girl who lives somewhere in Central America, or India or somewhere where they cannot easily reach certain people, book a businessman on our platform.

    “And as a result of that 15 or 30 minute conversation, I learned something to help her move forward, both immediately and later in life, to build a multibillion dollar company. I think that’s going to be the coolest thing of all time.”

    Given the introduction metrics, meaningful user and expert engagement is a priority.

    Raad told me he has “thousands” of requests from experts to be on the platform, both in their transition categories — home design, wellness, style and beauty, careers, business mentorship — and other topics not yet on the platform.

    I wondered if there was any concern that the quality of the experts might diminish as the introduction grows, perhaps via accessible advisors just looking for an additional stream of income.

    He told me, “We’ve carefully looked after the people we’re adding; for now, internally, we know who’s the expert in these areas we’re familiar with and who presents as an expert but not really at that level.”

    This may be more complicated in other categories that the team doesn’t know about. Raad said the plan is to have a group of advisors who can help them decide who to check out on the platform.

    I also asked him what it was like for celebrity experts to get involved in this way. I thought it should be refreshing for celebrities to talk about their experience, not their fame.

    Raad agreed and said that the artificial walls of fame and notoriety are coming down from these calls. Sometimes the most nervous participant in the call is the expert. He shares,

    “Our experts were surprised by the excitement and enthusiasm of the people they spoke with, who would not have been able to reach them otherwise.

    “They ask questions about quality, and I think it’s very refreshing for them to have a meaningful conversation where they can help someone — not just sign autographs or things like that.

    “Everyone is just a human being. We all care deeply about belonging. We all care deeply about connection. We all have fears of insecurity, too.”

    Breaking down barriers across society in the spirit of learning

    In the last few minutes of our conversation, Raad reinforced the purpose of the introduction by discussing how virtual communication is highly technologically advanced but still very limited in interpersonal collaboration and learning.

    “As a people, we built roads, which allowed us to move between different cities with ease, even miles and miles.

    “The people of these cities will interact with each other, learn from each other, and over time we get better overall.

    “We started getting smarter, and economies grew.

    “Then we built ships and planes, which allowed us to move forward and learn from different cultures.

    “In the long run, as society becomes more connected again, we end up getting better and better, learning from each other and becoming more empathetic. Many different opportunities also arise.

    But if you think about it, Raad continued, “Even though we can digitally connect anywhere, there’s still this invisible wall between us.”

    “I could live ten doors away from someone I would like to talk to and learn from, but I may not even know they are there.

    “Even if I connect with someone close to the person I want to learn from, it can take a lot of work to get to that person. And I want us to remove these walls.”

    “I think the way to do that is by providing the right incentives that make sense for both parties. And I think that’s what we’re doing here with Intro.

    “When people can easily communicate with each other, there will be ripple effects. And I think in the end, we’ll end up getting better and better as a society.”

    tea day He is an Executive Coach for CEOs, Founders, Influencers and Executive Wing Leaders in global companies. You can access his white paper at The power of coaching for successful managers here.

    Visit his site website And connect with Nihar on LinkedIn