Mentorship Space: The New Way Of Learning

Mentorship Space: The New Way Of Learning

Alexander Vochshakin, the co-founder of Mentorship Space, discussed  the new trends in the art industry, shared his experience in it and opened up about the company's approach in mentoring.

Introduction

At this moment, we are a small team of enthusiastic people with the industry’s background, who want to achieve new standards in the education of this area. The main team cluster consists of me and 2 other people, who developed the main concept, designs, business model, and PR strategy. Also, we have 7 part-time members, who help us with such technical stuff like our unique mentor-student system, backend, payments, and so on.

We live and work in Kazakhstan (a country in the center of Eurasia); however, we never worked for our local market because of its low demand.  Each of us is a self-taught specialist since we have no specialized universities in our hometowns.

Like many other CG-Artists, we love videogames and sci-fi movies, and they have become the main trigger for creating our own worlds. The main team worked as freelance artists for a few years (for example, I worked for 5 years) in several studios around the world. We started from enthusiastic participation in indie teams and then got our first paid offer. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a game dev job; we got involved in experimental projects such as experimental VR-demo for SXSW conference (2016), interactive music album presentation by one indie rock band, and so on. Later, there was some work for outsourcing studios on many projects, including AAA titles; however, we still prohibited from name those projects.

Lately, I and my colleagues quit the freelance job and made passive income. I, for example, sold photogrammetric modular assets on Unreal Marketplace and also made a huge course about environment design by request of the biggest Chinese online school called Yiihuu, it’s also available in English.

About the Platform

When we just started, there were not so many online courses and schools, and let’s be honest, we had no money for them since we were schoolboys. However, several YouTube tutorials and some paid courses from Gumroad helped us a lot to achieve better results in our career a bit later.

But what’s next? After 3-4 years of continuous education, it’s really hard to find something suitable for yourself.  There are a lot of courses and institutions that offer great opportunities for novices and amateurs. They’re really cool; however, they won’t suit me as an advanced specialist because I’m looking for a really specific topic. The same case could be applied to some indie developers. Procedural generation; using classical art approaches; experimental neural networks; in-depth working with photogrammetry tools: these and other topics you barely find at the courses or on YouTube.

There is no secret that you could get any information on the internet today. It has answers and guides to over 95% of your questions. However, modern society got a new problem, which we can call "the inability to quickly find information". We all know what does it mean, don’t we?

The Internet contains 95% of your answers but only ~40% of them are easy to find. About 30% of other answers are hidden inside some forums or documentations, and they even could have a quite different naming. Anyway, the most difficult case is the rest of 25% because of this information contained inside huge courses and tutorials. Their problem is the length; they could contain an answer to your question, but you have to watch hundreds of hours just to find the important thing you need. A similar challenge happens when you choose online courses or full-time schools. You could just waste much more time.

However, it doesn’t mean that nobody knows how to search for your trouble. The industry’s leading experts are always aware of new trends and techniques. So, what if you could ask them for a personalized recommendation or even mentoring? That’s how we got the idea of our project.

This market isn’t new; some experts are already making their independent mentoring services. However, it’s hard to find a proper mentor online, since there is no good online list of them. Also, there’s no guarantee that their services are good, or that they could give you money back in case of dissatisfaction.

So, we made tons of surveys among our colleagues and professionals about the most useful services of individual mentoring and designed a conception of Mentorship Space one year ago. All that time, we worked closely with some industry experts, who helped us to make user-friendly designs, catalogs of our services, and mentoring packages – the main feature of our project.

About the Educational Process

Let's start with the fact that these are not courses at all. We don’t offer any certificates or diplomas, but we offer something better – exclusive experience. Moreover, at the end of your training, you could ask for a personalized testimonial (letter of recommendation) from your mentor.

We offer only exclusive one-on-one mentoring services with the industry’s best experts. This is a brand-new service, which takes mentoring services to the next level. Our goal is to give you a solution to any trouble at an affordable price and leave you satisfied with the result. We developed some new standards, which turn mentoring sessions to something like personalized courses. Our team believes that the mentoring industry today must be structured; mentors must be qualified teachers, first of all, and the training program should be designed before the lessons will start. That is, we don’t offer just a catalog of mentors but packs of services, which include training programs, portfolio reviews, feedbacks, discussions about your career goals, and more.  And the most important – if you won’t be satisfied with your result, we give your money back or change your mentor for free!

Since our launch, we got higher standards for mentors, so we already got some guys who worked Ubisoft, 343 Industries, ILM, Arkane Studios, Riot Games, and so on. However, since the service just launched a few weeks ago, the mentors decided not to disclosure their names for a while, but you could already ask for mentoring and we find you a suitable specialist! At this moment we offer help for such areas as Concept Art/Design. Character Creation, Game Design, Level Design, VFX, 3D Modeling for Production, and so on.

Our educational process is also an advanced thing. Since we have no huge budget to make an internal system, we decided to make something multi-functional. We developed a bot for Telegram messenger. It has everything you need to control the quality of our services: chat, which our support team could see, a timer of sessions you completed, and a feedback system. This is quite enough to make you satisfied. However, for additional services like video-calls, you can use any other app like Skype.

Who Is It Made For?

All our services are individual and made for every student, who wants to achieve better results. We don’t offer a “generalized course”, so all our students must fill in a short survey, at first, and we will find a proper mentor for them. Every “course” program is designed exclusively for every student according to his/her desires and experience.

We offer 5 packages with some additional services; they consist of 2, 10, 25, and 60 hours of live mentoring. That is, everybody could afford it. Beginners, for example, could take 2 hours package to just define the goals they want to achieve in the industry, so mentors will give them proper roadmap and tutorial/courses, which will help to upgrade their skills much quicker. Professionals could take 25-60 hours packages just to learn a particular thing very fast. In that case, mentors could even do some streams, where they will upgrade students’ works live!

Our project even offers a “Portfolio review” package; 5 mentors will review your portfolio, and then each of them will give you a 1-hour session, where they will tell you how to exactly make your works look better.

The Biggest Challenges

Actually, it’s not so difficult to make a website and a concept of good services. There are a lot of great schools and services, which you can use as a reference. However, the most complicated thing is a collaboration with mentors.

We offer great conditions; mentors receive a huge percent from each session, have a flexible schedule and have the ability to quit anytime; it’s not a contract for 1 or 3 years. Nevertheless, many mentors are afraid of the fact that we just appeared on the market and could be scammers who will destroy their reputation. We offer contracts for such cases, show them our personal experience (some of them were our colleagues), but it doesn’t help many of the mentors to believe us right now. That’s why for now, we just show their experience but not the names; students see the names only after enrolling in their sessions. However, we hope to fix that in a few months when we will receive some positive reputation.

And talking about further plans, we think that our service could suite many other professions. That is, we’re going to add more similar services for cinematography industries; also we’d love to add brand new services for programmers and sound designers. I think if everything will be fine, we’ll launch it until 2021.

Alexander Vochshakin, Co-founder of Mentorship Space

Interview conducted by Ellie Harisova

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