Hi! I'm Angus - one of the founders and the Chief Operating Officer of TipStart. One thing I’m really proud of is our curriculum - the detailed blueprint we provide for all our TipSters and TipStarters if they need a structure for their relationship. Because it wasn’t always like this, I sat down with our Chief Impact Officer, Amy Fallon, to explain why we felt like we needed a curriculum and describe some of the thinking that went into it.
When it came to managing Tipstart’s first cohort of matches, we took a hands-off approach that was grounded in the belief that an overly prescriptive structure would quickly lose utility beyond the first encounter. An important founding principle of TipStart is that networking shouldn’t be hard and that relationships should flourish organically.
Most of our pairings from the first cohort got along fine, in fact many got on more than fine leading to extremely productive outcomes (separate blog on this coming soon). However, when we reflected on programme using feedback from those involved, there was a perceptible appetite for more guidance. Although people appreciated the freedom that TipStart gave them, there were points at which they wished they had something to fall back on or inspire them in driving their relationships forward. Crucially, our TipSters and TipStarters wanted the option for both freedom and structure.
Re-building our platform gave us an opportunity to think about how we could give our TipSters and TipStarters more guidance, ideas and inspiration to get the most out of their relationships.
We asked ourselves - rather than prescribe a structure that TipSters and TipStarters have to follow, why not make a blueprint that they can follow, either partly or entirely? We decided to make a series of guides, with ideas and suggestions for what TipSters and TipStarters could talk about and do together each month.
The main value I see in these guides is that they reinforce the idea that relationships should progress month-to-month, and plant the seed of what they could work on together. I want our TipSters and TipStarters to read the guides and think ‘career planning - we haven’t actually really explored that yet. Let’s set up a call next month’.
We also want to push people outside of their comfort zones - on both sides, challenging them to talk about topics and work on activities that they might not think about without a prompt.
Finally, we want to use the guides as a tangible form of expectation management when it comes to defining TipStart relationships. For instance, each guide sets a minimum requirement in terms of times to speak throughout a month. This reference point we hope can help introduce a sense of loss (if they interact less than the requirement) and gain (if they interact more than the requirement), providing some added motivation for our TipSters and TipStarters to interact more regularly and proactively.
If you sign up to the new and improved TipStart app you’ll get a welcome pack explaining how your relationship should broadly be structured. Then, each month for six months, a new guide will appear in your homepage, each with a different theme for that month, from ‘Applying to jobs’ to ‘Networking’ or ‘Building a better workplace’. Each guide contains conversation topics, questions and suggested activities all linked to the monthly theme. They give options for how to structure the two monthly calls TipSters and TipStarters are expected to have with one another, as well as short activities they can do in between calls to re-enforce and build on things further. Our aim is to ensure that you will never be at a loss for what to do next.
We strongly believe that following our curriculum to the letter will lead to positive outcomes for both TipStarters and TipSters. By the end, TipStarters will have explored careers that interest them, workshopped their application-writing, CV-crafting and interviewing skills, and gained tips and advice around how to network effectively. TipSters will have developed new skills in leadership and mentoring and played a role in making the world of work fairer and more accessible.
However, we also want TipStarters and TipSters to go off-script and define the scope of their six months together based on their own needs and circumstances. It shouldn’t be forgotten that, only by connecting, our TipSters and TipStarters are forming new professional networks that can make the world of work better.