McKinsey provides support to INCLT mentees

The Day of Service is a company-wide initiative at McKinsey in which employees are given opportunities to make a positive impact. There are inspirational speakers, volunteer opportunities in their local communities and chances to learn from those creating meaningful change around the world. 

McKinsey chose INCLT as one of the recipients of that service, specifically two participants in the INCLT Venture Mentoring Service: Kevin Giriunas, who owns Advent Coworking, and Wendy Hickey, the founder of ArtPop Street Gallery. Both have been long-time mentees, working intimately with their mentor teams and using their experience, knowledge and advice to make better informed decisions as entrepreneurs. 

For Giriunas, his mentors have helped him make data-driven decisions and organize his finances. He said they have also been helpful in navigating the chaos of running a coworking space amid a global pandemic. 

For Hickey, her mentors have helped her navigate ArtPop Street Gallery’s long-term success, creating a strategic, five-year plan and helping her meet her goal of three years of organizational sustainability. 

Given the success they’ve had with mentorship so far, both Giriunas and Hickey were excited to speak with outside consultants at McKinsey and hear their perspective on how they can amplify their efforts.

“They have zero skin in the game,” Giriunas said. “They don’t know who I am, so it’s a fresh set of eyes on some of the problems and ideas. It adds a different perspective to the mix.”

INCLT mentor Mark Steinman agreed this fresh set of eyes from a completely unbiased perspective was a unique opportunity for the mentees. 

“Not only did they get the chance to hear different ideas, but they were also able to receive validation of their current approaches,” Steinman said. 

Before the session, the consultants asked Giriunas and Hickey to provide a problem statement outlining the current state of their venture, the desired future state and any gaps between the two. 

After a particularly unprecedented and challenging year, Giriunas was most focused on finding a way to increase his revenue back to where it was pre-COVID-19. In response, the consultants advised Giriunas on what to focus on — and what to avoid — amid a time of uncertainty. Specifically, they cautioned him that not all of his ideas for potential revenue streams will make sense after the pandemic. Right now, long-term planning can wait. Instead, they advised, he focus on the short term.

“I felt oddly reassured and calmed afterward,” Giriunas said. “Several of the individuals said I need to focus on the next six months from now — and know that the next six months are still going to be very challenging financially. But there is hope on the horizon.”

The consultants also advised Giriunas on the next logical step for a new market he plans to tap into. While he had already discussed it with his mentors, hearing it from an outside perspective gave him the extra push to get started.

That outside perspective also provided meaningful insight and an extra push for Hickey, whose primary focus was to figure out a strategy for ArtPop Street Gallery’s corporate partnerships. Hickey was able to obtain high-level ideas on target markets that she could connect with and insight into exactly what companies in those markets would look for in a nonprofit to support.

“With their huge portfolio, being an international company connected to companies all over the world, we wanted to know what they are seeing in the world of corporate partnerships and if they had suggestions of how we can improve our corporate partnership offerings,” Hickey said.

When one consultant in the session was puzzled by the nonprofit’s mission and goals, it was a wake-up call for Hickey to refine ArtPop Street Gallery’s message. If one consultant didn’t understand it, she said, there could be others in major companies who don’t understand it, either. 

“He was so helpful at making sure that was clear at inception so that we didn’t come across someone like him and they don’t know what we’re doing,” Hickey said. “We’re already working on fine-tuning our corporate partnership packaging, taking that advice of getting crystal clear on our message.”

Hickey’s goal of creating meaningful relationships also came to fruition on the call, as two consultants with interest in the arts mentioned they were willing to spend some additional time with Hickey to provide support beyond the conference call.

Participating consultants were impressed with their sessions with both Giriunas and Hickey. But what stood out was the entrepreneurs’ commitment at the local level.

“The entrepreneurs we spoke with displayed passion for their work and a true focus on building the community in Charlotte,” Harrison said.

For Giriunas and Hickey, these sessions left them feeling motivated, with action plans to move forward.

Beyond the direct impact on local founders, the interest McKinsey has shown in Charlotte’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is a sign of the growth and impact this community has achieved in recent years, said Olga Muller director of operations for local software development company Kepler Team. “I have been part of the Charlotte startup community at every stage of its development, and this interest from a global organization like McKinsey confirms what we already know: Now is a fantastic time to be an entrepreneur in the Queen City.” 

For more information on the INCLT Venture Mentoring Service, visit our website. We are currently accepting applications for both mentors and founders looking for guidance. Apply today!