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New platform connects aspiring professionals with mentorship network

A new celebrity platform is opening doors for people of color.

The new platform ‘Assemble’ is connecting aspiring professionals with a strong mentorship network.

“I think that this is a solution to finally create a bridge and allow experts, such as Sakiya, to reach back and have a way to properly deal with everyone that loves to learn from someone like him,” Cortney Woodruff, Assemble creator and CEO said.

The new professional mentorship network connects diverse experts with its users, no matter their age or background, and offers an assembly of successful Black and brown professionals that users can text, call or Zoom anytime they want.

“I was just a kid with a dream and I had to really go around the world to find mentorship to figure out how to do the thing I really aspired to do,” Woodruff said.

Unlike Cameo, Masterclass and other celebrity platforms, for a small fee, Assemble connects users with mentors that it calls “Experts.”

“The average expert on my platform is quite busy,” Woodruff said. “So if you want, you can book a 15 or 30-minute video call with them, and that’s quite pricey. But what we also have is a ‘Cameo’ like feature where you can submit a question for a very cheap reduced fee, and you get back a 60-second video response.

While Woodruff was coming up with the idea, he needed to pick someone’s brain on how to bring it to fruition. That’s when he found Chicago native Sakiya Sandifer in a Los Angeles restaurant. At the time, Sandifer was having lunch with his former Yeezy partner Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.

“Once I saw what the platform was, I was like, ‘I have to be a part of it,’” Sandifer said.

Sandifer, who was born in Mississippi and grew up on Chicago’s South Side, has had a lucrative career collaborating with hip-hop artists, co-writing a book and developing a successful clothing line. He brings a lot to the Assemble team, both as an advisor and as one of its Experts, and he believes with Assemble, others can succeed too.

“I just want to share with them where the speed traps are,” Sandifer said.

At only 35 years old, Cortney has lived in Europe and started and invested in a few businesses.

“Who you learn from matters, and what I learned going around the world by myself so often was that I never saw people that looked like me,” Woodruff said. “And for me to be able to teach that to individuals and to show them some of the great things I learned from various people from all around the world and how to build businesses, is what’s truly important to me.”

One of Assembly’s investors is ‘SmoothBrain,’ an unlikely venture capitalist group in the western suburbs made up of son-in-law Chris Phlanz and father-in-law Nick Mirchef.

Phalnz heard about Assemble when he met Woodruff at a friend’s wedding in London, and the idea blew him away. Nick Mirchef, however, wasn’t so quick to join the party.

“When Chris pitched me, I was a little, a little bit reserved,” said Mirchef. “I was just like, is this just like a dream, or something like could really happen.”

But after a 30-minute meeting turned into a two-hour meeting, SmoothBrain knew that it needed to be a part of Woodruff’s company.

“You have got to have the right people who others want to learn from,” said Phalnz.

The Assemble team says they think the new platform is going to be game-changing.

“It’s going to be a breakthrough. Like Uber did with cars and Airbnb did with houses,” Sandifer said.

Visit the Assemble website for details on how to become or interact with an Expert.

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