Charlotte – Day 4: A Mentor’s Perspective
We were lucky to welcome Dilek Dayinlarli, founder and managing partner of ScaleX, a scale-up growth investment platform, as a Global Ambassador in Charlotte. She served as mentor to Melissa Bodford, co-founder and chairman & CEO of uBack, a revolutionary mobile giving platform. We asked Dilek for her perspective on the program, uBack and its opportunity for growth.
Melissa Bodford and Dilek Dayinlarli
Q: As a young startup, uBack has been successful and is growing quickly. What is one important way you were able to help Melissa plan to take the company to the next level?
DD: I have worked with entrepreneurs from all over the world, so I’m able to offer a global perspective on the venture capital industry and how to scale tech startups. It was refreshing to meet Melissa at this stage of uBack’s growth and many of the companies I’ve helped were in a similar place in their development, so I have a lot of experience in scaling from that point and beyond. I think uBack has tremendous potential and this week we took a deep dive into the skills and tools needed to keep it going.
Q: You spent five days immersed in the Global Ambassadors Program with 23 other mentors and mentees, plus notable speakers at a public forum on women and the economy, and best-in-class training and workshops. Can you describe an “a-ha!” moment that you experienced?
DD: Yes, absolutely. It’s hard to narrow down one specific moment; the entire week was life-changing I think for both groups of women. One thing that moved me and felt like a bit of an epiphany was that Melissa and I come from different sides of the world, but it didn’t feel like we were very different at all. We bonded immediately and shared a lot of common ground both being minority women in otherwise male-dominated fields of technology and entrepreneurship. We assume we would have little in common or that someone would be so different that they wouldn’t understand you or your journey or your vision, but then we are more alike than we anticipated and have so much to share with one another. I wish more people would be able to have that kind of experience and realize how much we can benefit from finding that common thread that exists between all people.
Melissa (left) and Dilek (right) work together during one-on-one mentoring sessions
Q: You covered various topics this week and focused on ways to help Melissa and the uBack team continue their forward trajectory. What do you hope she prioritizes when she returns to the office?
DD: We worked on several ideas, but I think of utmost importance is scaling uBack to the next level with the corporate clients that are currently in the pipeline. She also plans to concentrate on addressing the product-market fit. Melissa already had great traction but she was just at the tipping point to prepare her company for the next level.
Q: For GAP, you took on the role of a mentor guiding Melissa at a crucial point in her career, but would you say that you learned anything new this week?
DD: I believe learning is a life-long lesson and while my experience affords me the chance to guide and teach others, I always hope to gain and learn from new experiences. One of the program leaders, Allison Shapira, led a fantastic training on public speaking that I found very beneficial.
Selfie time in Charlotte. Oulimata Sarr snaps a photo of Global Ambassadors, Dilek is center-left.
Q: Were there any other takeaways form the program and your experience working with Melissa to help her further develop the company?
DD: I learned about the giving spirit of America and the generosity that many people feel which creates an urge to contribute to causes close to their hearts. I was also made more aware of the friction that exists which makes philanthropy more difficult. I think Melissa and her team have an amazing product in uBack – it removes the difficulty in that process by acting as a “giving wallet,” allowing anyone to give anytime and anywhere within seconds. I’m proud of her for how far she’s come and I’m excited to watch her take uBack even further.
Dilek Dayinlarli is the founder and managing partner of ScaleX, a scale-up growth investment platform. She is an entrepreneur and an investor with experience in forming, funding, running, advising and investing in technology businesses.
Photography: David Hume Kennerly