Waterloo-based 1Mentor’s recent acquisition by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the world’s largest global higher education network, underscores the urgent need for their platform and the data it provides higher education institutions. 

1Mentor’s artificial intelligence (AI) enabled technology sifts through employers’ job postings to provide insights into employers' needs and identify skills required for success. It also equips higher education institutions with the information they need to adjust programming to address the skills gap.  

It was a very real problem, identified during his time at the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, that led Esteban Veintimilla (MBET ’22, BMath ’18) to launch 1Mentor — a pioneering technology to transform the way higher education adapts to a rapidly changing world.  

While working at the Conrad School, Veintimilla supported students in finding their first work experience through the Bridging Entrepreneurs to Students (BETS) program. But he quickly learned that equipping students with the right skills to succeed in today’s new world of work was a real challenge. 

“I realized it’s not just a ‘me’ problem. It’s a systemic, global problem that I experienced first-hand. My role was student and employer-facing, so I could see both sides of the coin.”  

That’s why it’s no surprise to Veintimilla that the World Economic Forum recently reported, in its Future of Jobs Report 2023, that 44 per cent of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years.  

Esteban Veintimilla stands on conference stage holding a microphone as he give presentation

Learning by doing 

Veintimilla’s passion for entrepreneurship was ignited by taking an elective course through the Conrad School during his math and business dual degree undergraduate program.  

“From the outset, I was able to apply what I was learning to the real world. This experiential component had me hooked, and I took as many entrepreneurship elective courses as I could for the remainder of my undergrad.”  

By the time Veintimilla built 1Mentor, he was a part-time graduate student in the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program. “Everything I was learning had real and tangible outcomes — and I could really see immediate results.” 

Soon after, a Velocity business adviser — recognizing the veracity of the problem 1Mentor was set on solving — encouraged him to apply.  

That’s when he lived the importance of what he had learned, and practised a key founder skill — extracting actionable insights from customer discovery.   

Esteban Veintimilla stands while two students take notes in books

“Velocity wanted us to quickly prove that this was a real problem, and customers would be willing to pay to have that problem solved,” Veintimilla said. “That was one of the most valuable things in my entire founder journey. I was learning directly from my customers, and gathering all the information needed to build a product that addressed their needs.”     

By the time 1Mentor completed the intensive customer discovery phase, which included 72 interviews with universities and colleges, the company had recruited two new clients, University of Alberta and Purdue University in the U.S., in addition to its existing relationship with the University of Waterloo. 

“Alberta’s and Purdue’s eagerness to buy our product really proved how profound this problem was and showed the need for our platform,” Veintimilla said. “Velocity gave us the opportunity to connect with industry leaders and other founders who had been through these early startup stages before, which helped get us off the ground.”

Taking 1Mentor to new heights  

Naturally, it didn’t take long for others to notice. As QS works towards serving and empowering the global educational community, their ethos is a perfect match for 1Mentor. Veintimilla and his co-founders, Martin Serrano and Diego Robles, couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. QS has acquired the entire company and staff, and 1Mentor will grow as a new business unit for at least the next five years.  

“Being able to continue the 1Mentor journey with our entire team is fabulous, I’m really happy we can grow with the people who have trusted the vision from the beginning. That’s important to me and my co-founders.”