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Inspiring Innovators: Chris Motley Founder & CEO Mentor Spaces, On remembering “Who do you do this for?”

At SAP.iO, we work with innovative people and new technologies that positively impact our world every day, and we think it’s time to share their stories with you! In our series, “Inspiring Innovators,” we get to hear how founders, CEOs, and presidents of cutting-edge startup technologies overcame, thrived, and pursued their goals. SAP.iO’s Alexa Gorman sat down to discuss the road to success and lessons learned with some of our most inspiring startup founders.

Meet Chris

Chris Motley grew up on the South Side of Chicago and was fortunate to be a part of organizations that helped put him on a path to access educational opportunities. That access led to graduation from Columbia University with a B.A. in History, and the Kellogg School of Management, with an MBA in Entrepreneurship. Chris founded a global textile manufacturing business where he spent six years leading its expansion into Ghana, Africa, and building its apparel division.

When we asked Chris about what he wanted to be when he grew up, he smiled and listed all the things he thought he might be, ranging from a basketball player to a judge. The takeaway was that Chris wanted to be the things he was exposed to as a child. What he saw, the people he met, and his connections contributed to his journey and gave him a unique way of looking at the world. He would come to learn how important all this was, and it would guide his future focus and desire to give back.

Previously, Chris spent four years at Goldman Sachs as a Commodities and Interest Rate product trader. Upon reflection on his journey, he thought about what people do when they are not exposed or have access to the same opportunities he was afforded. How do you reach your potential if you are not exposed to opportunities? How does one find support, mentors, and resources to learn about what could be?

When Chris asked these questions, he realized there was a need to provide these resources on a much larger scale. After learning a lot on Wall Street and building a company in Ghana, now was the time to launch Mentor Spaces to address the need in the marketplace for mentorship of underrepresented populations. Mentor Spaces is a venture-backed, community-driven mentorship platform designed to help companies scale DEI efforts while advancing the careers of underrepresented talent. The platform facilitates career conversations between employees and prospective candidates to streamline diverse talent acquisition and retention. This technology allows you to have conversations with people who can help you get where you want to go.

“What I found as we did a tremendous amount of research, in addition to my personal story, was that part of the issue is a lack of confidence among underrepresented populations, and part of that lack of confidence is driven by simply not knowing people and vetted resources that would help. We concluded that mentorship is a good way to build confidence and expand one’s network, and what’s unique about our approach is that we look at mentorship as a strategy that helps our customers accomplish their goals. Most companies have shifted to focus on a strategy around talent attraction, advancement, and retention.”

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Mentor Spaces Now Available on SAP Store

Mentor Spaces has announced that its community-driven mentorship platform for underrepresented talent is now available on SAP® Store, the online marketplace for SAP and partner offerings. Mentor Spaces provides mentorship technology to businesses that use SAP® SuccessFactors® solutions to scale diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

“As a participant of the HR and future of work program at SAP.iO San Francisco, we are thrilled to be continuing our partnership with SAP,” said Chris Motley, founder and CEO of Mentor Spaces. “With Mentor Spaces, human resources and DEI professionals have the opportunity to leverage the power of scalable mentorship technology to easily attract, hire and retain underrepresented talent. We are proud to be working alongside SAP to help advance the careers of underrepresented talent.”

Mentor Spaces facilitates conversations with experts aligned to one’s professional interests and goals through both Q&As and live sessions. The power of Mentor Spaces’ technology enables companies to enhance brand, engage colleagues, and mentor historically marginalized populations to cultivate diverse talent pipelines. Organizations that partner with Mentor Spaces benefit from up to a 30 percent increase in employee retention, a 50 percent decrease in time spent on admin and talent sourcing, and a significant increase in employee engagement.

SAP Store, found at, delivers a simplified and connected digital customer experience for finding, trying, buying and renewing approximately 2,000 solutions from SAP and its partners. There, customers can find the SAP solutions and SAP-validated solutions they need to grow their business. And for each purchase made through SAP Store, SAP will plant a tree.

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Mentor Spaces Raises $2.5M to Bring More Diverse Talent Into the Workplace

Denver-based startup Mentor Spaces announced the closing of its $2.5 million seed funding round. The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact led the round, with participation from several others.

Mentor Spaces launched in 2020 in order to bring more diversity into the workplace. Countless companies pledged to do better in their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts last year. But saying you’ll do something and actually doing it are two separate things. Underrepresented groups can be excluded from the workplace not because the intent to hire them isn’t there, but instead because of what Mentor Spaces calls the “network gap.”

As Mentor Spaces points out, research shows that location, education and prior employment can make a person 12x more likely to be given a certain opportunity. Because of this, marginalized groups must work much harder to secure the same opportunities as non-marginalized folks, or risk remaining on the margins.

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