When you start a company, any company, your first year is spent meeting with as many people as possible. It’s spent planting seeds, finding opportunities and talking endlessly about your company’s mission to just about anyone who will listen. It’s spent trekking up and down Midtown in flats only to quickly switch into fancy heels before the elevator reaches your meeting floor. It’s spent hopping from Starbucks to Starbucks as a home base for checking emails and taking calls in between meetings. It’s spent playing accountant, IT director, COO, CFO, CMO, publicist and business development expert all in one day. It’s spent darting through train stations to get home in time for dinner, bath time and good night kisses with the kids and hubby, all before revving up the laptop again to finish any lingering work. It truly is a half-year of blood, sweat, tears, coffee and blisters. Startups are not for sissies.
As The Upside passes its half-year mark, we look back at our newborn-ness with exhaustion and accomplishment. In fact, we have spoken to hundreds of clients, consultants and contractors. And with all of these conversations come patterns. In fact, we hear the same questions and the same comments, mostly positive thank goodness, over and over. But there is one question that gets asked more than any other. In fact it is asked at every single meeting with every single potential client, every single time. The question? “How do you find the talent?”
This question blows my mind because we are surrounded by so much untapped, high-level talent, it’s almost hard to miss. They are out there reluctantly working full time jobs, dreaming of a flexible career where they can take a half day to attend their child’s pre-k graduation without the fear of retaliation. They are taking a year off after throwing in the 50 hour-per-week corporate towel, deciding on their next career move. They are consulting on their own, navigating the ins and outs of sourcing and managing clients. They are on message boards, Facebook groups, and even at school drop-offs. And they are rock stars. We’re talking Ivy-leaguers, Fortune 500 veterans, managing directors, VPs, MBAs, CFAs, CPAs, and PHDs at the top of their game. Our clients can’t believe that women and men with this type of pedigree would actually want to work part time or as an independent contractor. Well people, they do. And we are working our tails off to give companies access to this incredibly fragmented, untapped, high-level pool of on-demand, flexible, scalable talent.
What we’ve taken away from the consistent asking of “How do you find the talent?” is that aggregating this talent, filtering through it to find the best of the best and knowing how to match that talent with clients is an art. And it’s our secret sauce. No algorithm or digital marketplace can do what we do at The Upside. It’s why we designed our business model around offering a boutique experience where technology kicks in on the back-end instead of a tailored job board where technology is leveraged on the front-end. It’s why we take the time to meet with clients and consultants and understand their individual needs instead of working to sign on more and more paying users and members. This strategy of curating talent may seem old school in a world of all things digital and tech. But ultimately, you can’t replace the human-to-human experience with a robot, at least not yet. And in a world filled with all things digital, it’s what sets us apart.
So how do we find the talent you ask? We open our eyes and we listen to all of the corporate rock stars out there looking for something different. We find the best of the best people who can step into any company, deliver top quality work and impress beyond expectations. But that’s all we’ll say for now. Because if we told you all of our secrets, what would you need us for?