Sure, the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of D.C.’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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Coming out is often hard, especially for people living in areas without a large LGBTQ+ community.
Michael Edmonson, CEO and co-founder of mentoring app Worthy Mentoring, said he’ll never forget the day he decided to come out as a gay man. Living in Lousiana at the time, he didn’t have many queer friends and wasn’t sure how his loved ones would react. Even after coming out, he realized he still had a lot of questions about being gay but didn’t know where to turn for answers.
“I had never been on a date before, been out in school or work, spoken to an LGBTQ+ affirming doctor or explored questions related to religion and sexuality. To find support for these questions, I had dating apps and social media, but I had no desire to date someone and I didn’t want to out myself publicly through Facebook,” Edmonson told Build In via email. “Outside of that, I had crisis intervention, but my questions were not crisis moments. I decided that there needed to be a designated space for the LGBTQ+ community to come out and be out.”
That’s why Edmonson founded Worthy Mentoring, an app designed to make the coming out experience less scary. It connects queer people who are struggling to understand or accept themselves with vetted mentors who can offer support and guidance. Mentees using the app must also be 18 years or older and mentors must submit to a background check. After signing up, mentees have the option to remain anonymous and filter matches based on criteria that matters to them like age, ethnicity or profession. Mentees can also filter matches by discussion topics such as coming out.
“If an individual is struggling to come out, we want them to know that Worthy Mentoring is the best platform for them to better understand and accept themselves.”
The nonprofit organization also works with collaborators like The Trevor Project to ensure its community has the best resources. Those resources are available for free on Worthy Mentoring’s website. They include hotlines, handbooks on various topics and other resources to help members of the LGBTQ+ community along their coming out journey.
According to Edmonson, the app has made more than 275 mentor and mentee matches since its launch last year. His team is currently working on version two of the platform and will soon be looking to hire an additional mobile app developer to accelerate production. In the future, Worthy Mentoring hopes to become synonymous with the coming out journey.
“If an individual is struggling to come out, we want them to know that Worthy Mentoring is the best platform for them to better understand and accept themselves,” Edmonson told Built In.