Here’s How I Leveled Up My Network

By joining a pool I’d be joining an amazing community of founders, and investing in their (and my) future success.
Hanmei Wu

Mentorship is at the heart of my life.

In high school, I often felt directionless — I wasn’t sure what college I wanted to attend, what I would study, what I would do in my career. The college counselor at my high school was largely unavailable, and when we finally met, his advice was generic and not personalized (to be fair, he was also working with hundreds of other students), so I ended up reading online forums and asking my older friends for help. Later, I’d look back on this experience and realize I really could have used a mentor.

I ended up at UC Berkeley for college and majored in Business Administration. At the time, though, I still felt uncertain — this time about whether I should pursue investment banking, entrepreneurship, or other common career paths. This time, instead of reading online forums, I reached out to a handful of UC Berkeley alumni, all of whom were incredibly helpful. Over the course of many coffee chats, I came to realize how much people genuinely wanted to help me. Those conversations, so valuable to me, were yet another example of how important mentorship can be.

After Berkeley, I taught high school math with Teach for America, and started helping my students with their college applications.

This work naturally brought up a lot of parallels to my own college admissions experience; it also forced the realization upon me that my stress and aimlessness in high school and college was not unique — it was happening across the country.

By the end of my time with TFA, I understood that there weren’t nearly enough resources to help high school and college students navigate big, important life moments (applying for college, choosing a career path, etc). At the time, I remember thinking: What if young people could get access to mentors on a recurring basis? This thought eventually became the company Empowerly: a platform for young people to seek mentorship and guidance as they navigate defining periods of their lives.

As I was building Empowerly, I joined UC Berkeley and Stanford-based accelerators to kickstart my growth and give me a chance to network with fellow entrepreneurs. Through Stanford StartX, I met Tevon Strand-Brown, who first told me about Pando, the income-pooling company. The concept of income pooling was new to me, but through chats with Tevon, I learned that through Pando, groups of similarly ambitious people commit a portion of their future earnings to a shared pool, which is then evenly distributed among participants at a later date.

The more I talked with Tevon, the more excited I grew about Pando. By joining a pool — Tevon’s pool of aspiring entrepreneurs, specifically — I’d be joining an amazing community of founders, and investing in their (and my) future success.

I’m currently in Tevon’s pool at Pando, and while we’re still in our early stages, I’m excited to see how we grow together. As I mentioned, mentorship is hugely important to me, and Pando is a ready-made way for me to grow my network of mentors.