How I'm Building The Airbnb For Mentors

Published: March 29th, 2022
Felix Lee
Founder, ADPList
from Singapore
started April 2020
market size
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
210 days
growth channels
Email marketing
best tools
Google Drive, WordPress, Instagram Ads
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
39 Pros & Cons
2 Tips
Discover what tools Felix recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Felix recommends to grow your business!
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Hi, my name is Felix, and I am the co-founder and the CEO of ADPList. ADPList is a free online mentoring platform for people to find, meet and book global mentors. The platform provides the chance for anyone with access to some of the best minds in the tech community. We are on a mission to democratize mentorship and make it accessible for everyone.

ADPList was established in 2020 as a list of names, to help the many designers who found themselves out of a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One tab in the open-source spreadsheet focused on mentoring received the most clicks, which then inspired me, and James Baduor to build this into a platform, and that’s how Amazing Design People List (ADPList) was initiated.

The platform has grown organically to a network of over 3,800 mentors and 30,000 mentees, with more than 15,000 bookings from over 70 countries in only 6 months.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

Before getting involved in entrepreneurship, I was a Design lead at Gotrade and the Co-founder at Packdat in 2018. I completed my studies at Singapore Polytechnic but decided to pursue entrepreneurship instead of continuing my studies at the university.

The drive to create and curiosity has led me to product design. Design is a space for problem-solving, and I love the challenge of practical designing anything. I started taking online design courses after school in 2019, and this passion turned into a calling for me.

The consistent day-to-day showing up is what builds one’s character.

I want to create purposeful products that can make this world just a little better for humanity. This ambition turns itself into venturing with purpose.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

We first started in April 2020 at the height of the pandemic, with a Google Spreadsheet.

No one believed it would work, and people thought that this was a crazy idea. “Why would someone mentor a stranger in an entirely different country?” But our mentors have proven to the world that this idea is achievable and able to support the design community people across the world. The direct impact on the mentees’ careers is just amazing! We officially launched our website in January 2021, and the global community has been expanding since then.

Today we have more than 3,000 mentors and 30,000 mentees around the globe.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

At ADPList, we are on a mission to democratize mentorship for all. We believe that everyone regardless of rich or poor, connected or unconnected - should have equal access to mentorship as an education/growth resource. This is why we’re building an open community where knowledge is shared through mentorship. By providing an entirely new way to book and meet mentors directly all on the platform.

Today, we’re doing ~160 1:1 sessions/day, and that’s about ~300k minutes of mentoring sessions monthly. Our mentors come from over 60 countries, diverse backgrounds, and expertise in tech (mainly design). Being said, we are a small team of 12 coupled with our amazing volunteers worldwide.

Our long-term vision is to increase education freedom worldwide where everyone gets adequate access to mentors. We’re less than 1% into this journey. Our goal is to continue to focus on our community, expand regionally into North America, India, and APAC, and continue to foster a strong engagement globally.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

In the beginning, it was difficult to get everyone's attention and to make them believe in our mission. We hardly get appointments for sponsorships and partnerships. It’s crazy.

We did not give up hope and managed to break down more barriers with global communities, companies, and sponsors. Now, we’re in over 70 countries with more than 3,000 mentors actively contributing and our employees are from over 5 countries.

It’s been a grateful journey and an interesting one to undergo the ADPList’s development and how the mission is being accepted and welcomed worldwide.

My career taught me the value of a relentless mentality. The consistent day-to-day showing up is what builds one’s character. It is good to get going early.

One of our investors, Siu Rui (Co-Founder, Carousell), told us to do things that did not scale. I went out and talked to every user about what was working and what was not working. This feedback made the product better. It became something people needed. If I could do things over, I’d do things that did not scale earlier.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The platforms/tools I use almost daily to stay productive are Slack, GSuite, Amplitude, and Asana.

Slack enables asynchronous communication, GSuite allows me to collaborate on projects with the team, Amplitude allows me to look into customer usage and understand how we can serve them better (I also talk to them via Gmail), and finally, Asana; to plan our week and tasks.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The two most influential books I highly recommend are Elon Musk Biography and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Narrari.

Elon’s book shows you the hard truth about greatness, and the impact you can make through your life’s work.

Sapiens is an understanding of our humans as a civilization and how we’ve come to be. As they said, history repeats itself - it’s good to know what’s coming. I listen to podcasts by Tim Ferris, Gary Vee, and Simon Sinek mainly.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I would advise and encourage other entrepreneurs to “Get more involved in your mission sooner.”

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Not at the moment.

Where can we go to learn more?

Visit our website to book free mentoring sessions with our top global mentors and weekly group sessions organized by our community and partners. You can read our blogs written by our community and reach out to our social media platforms- LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and ADPList.

Let’s immerse ourselves in the value of mentorship towards our career and life!

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