Written by Sophie Setareh Smallwood, co-Founder | co-Ceo, Roleshare
📷 Image Credits: Roleshare: Dave Smallwood (co-Founder, co-CEO), Sophie Setareh Smallwood (co-Founder, co-CEO), Polly Howden (CPO), Ahmad Mousavi (CTO)
We're bringing the sharing economy to jobs! At Roleshare, a Techstars portofilo company, we’re on a mission to enable professionals to share a job and stay on their career path without sacrificing the things that make us human - caring for family, for ourselves, pursuing passions. We believe this will create a more diverse, sustainable, and equitable workforce.
In the sharing economy, people share cars, homes, boats, clothing, and just about anything else. We think they should also share jobs. That’s why we are building Roleshare, a talent marketplace matching professionals to share and co-apply for jobs. Based on our early experience building the product from scratch, and significant amounts of existing social science research, we are certain that creating a job-sharing economy will drive positive societal impact on many fronts while also improving the bottom line for employers.
Today we are announcing our first round of funding, supported by a list of super-star angel investors - see TechCrunch's coverage. Roleshare aims to create a new way to structure jobs that does not force people to choose between the jobs they love and the life they live. Equally important, rolesharing makes employees and employers happier and more productive. Our platform can keep invaluable talent in the workforce, while also helping companies activate a new class of talent, and reduce recruiting and employee retention costs.
Roleshare has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a solution pathway to economic transformation and described by MIT Sloan Management Review as a “third way” filling the gap between full-time and freelance.
"Why I had to build Roleshare. "
When I needed Roleshare, it didn’t exist. At the time, I had a dream job at Facebook London partnering with incredible technologists, savvy business leaders, bombastic creatives, and enviable customers. I would rush home to see my son asleep in bed. I wanted to be an A-player across all of my roles. Yet, I felt like I kept failing at this parent thing. Unapologetically, I wanted career growth and balance. I didn’t want a part-time job. I wanted to share my job. I wanted to put my job out to the market to scope out options. There was no such marketplace. So I decided to build it.
"We asked, 'what happens if we don't build this?' 'nothing,' they said. 'Exactly!' we said."
When I took the leap from Facebook to build a solution to match people to share jobs with my co-founder, co-parent, and then director at PayPal, Dave Smallwood, people said I was so “brave.” They probably thought I was crazy. Many were curious and many were overloaded with operational concerns. “It seems complex.” “What if one person leaves?” “What if one person is better?” “What if…”. They were stuck on the age-old construct of jobs — one person, one job, work from the office, five days a week, from 9am to 5 pm.
All we asked in return, “What happens if we don’t build this?” “Nothing,” they said. “Exactly,” we said. We were on a mission. And we realized that there is no better time than now to build something new, just as the world of work is rapidly changing.
Together, with our founding team Polly Howden (CPO) and Ahmad Mousavi (CTO), we built, we broke things, we examined, we solved, we reflected. None of us had fundraised before. We leaned on our advisors Lynda Gratton, Desigan Chinniah, Q Hamirani, Ali Minaei, and our tech friends – special kudos to Julien Codorniou, Andy Young, Cameron McLean, Ramon Espiritu (FB and PayPal family) to make it happen. It was both exhilarating and gruelling galore. Our team was solid throughout. Dave and I are honoured the team has taken up our vision and we are beyond confident they will achieve it.
"There is literally insane upside to this thing. "
Our journey started with a need to share jobs for career growth and balance. Through the process of customer development we discovered job sharing enables so much more. More…productivity, diversity, business continuity, learning opportunities, accountability, allyship, higher wellbeing, better quality output. There is literally insane upside to this thing for both employees and employers. Yes, sharing jobs has its challenges. But when it’s done right, it’s like having Olympic relay champions on your team, giving their all while holding the baton until the handover. They win and they lose together.
Allyson Felix passing the baton to English Gardner at the 2016 Rio Olympics
For such a young startup, we have already received a tremendous amount of validation that we are on the right track.
"What’s coming "up?
We are building the world’s best marketplace to match talent to share and co-apply for jobs. Matching people to people, and then matching those people to jobs isn’t an easy solve. If it was, we wouldn’t be here today. Moving forward we are…
- Enhancing our enterprise readiness and platform features to meet baseline expectations of hiring managers.
- Improving our talent experience to support our community in finding partners and jobs to share.
- Building out relevant platform integrations to make Roleshare more enterprise friendly.
- Growing our mission-aligned team to execute our roadmap speedily and at quality.
"Huge thanks to friends, community and investors in our initial funding."
Our founding team achieved a lot with little. We bootstrapped ourselves to pre-seed. And we couldn’t have done it without the energizing support of our community and enablers.We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now comes the next chapter.
"We are so darn excited to announce we’ve achieved a major milestone at Roleshare. We raised a seed round to invest in our vision."
This is a huge accomplishment and we are incredibly grateful to our experienced and visionary angels who believed in our founding team and who saw our mission and vision as their guiding star. Thank you (in no particular order) to our investing angels and angel syndicates; Shefali Roy, Ian Hogarth, Amanda Jones Floyd, Lyle Fong, Julien Codorniou, Azeem Azhar, Lynda Gratton, Elodie and Tony Jamous, Tingting Peng, Sean White, PhD, Cam McLean, Philipp Ries, Lewis Tuff, Alex Salkever, Desigan Chinniah, Atomico Angel Programme - Jenny Saft and Deborah Okenla, Ventures Together angels - Thish Nadessan, Saasha Celestial-One, Andy Young, Sara Gordon, Maya Moufarek, Gabbi Cahane, Sebastian McDermott, Leonard Picardo, Brendan Gill, Jonathan (JP) Petrides, via Odin - Vuyiswa M’Cwabeni, Jannat Shah, Mica Vaipan, Stephanie Fielding and Julian Merschen, Nicolas Forti, Kim Connor Streich, Laurie Lhoyer, Sally Cowling, Nickie Bina, Michael and Mariam Bina, Lawrence Lundy-Bryan, Ramon Espiritu, and For The Win Ventures - Benjamin Hoelzl, Isla Munro-Hochmayr.
We're honored to have these powerhouse angels join us on our journey. Many have founded and exited their own tech businesses. Many are experienced venture investors by trade. They are visionaries. They are influencers. Some are even HRtech aficionados. Some are future of work thought leaders. Combined, they bring expertise that goes multiples beyond the value of our raise. Most importantly, they believe in Roleshare and in our team.
"We are here today together. A job well shared is a job well done."
To Dave, thank you for listening to my wacky wish for “a dating website for people who want to share jobs,” clocking the opportunity, and purchasing the domain within minutes. You’re the sales and operational mastermind of Roleshare. To Polly and Ahmad, our founding team super heroes – thank you for your persistence, positivity, creativity, resourcefulness, and incredible grind and grit. To our advisors, thank you for believing in our team and our mission, thank you for opening doors and windows alike! Lynda Gratton – it’s such an honor, thank you for taking us under your wing! Desigan Chinniah – so so good to have your startup smarts and cool-headedness on our team. Q Hamirani – from my first podcast interview to advisor, you’re the ops genius I couldn’t even have dreamed up! Ali Minaei – our number one supporter from day 0, thank you for everything and for Ahmad! and Jordan Stevenson – you were our first, thank you for giving us a chance and flying our flag so high!
We are grateful for the business leaders who took a bet on us. We understand you put your reputation on the line when picking technologies. We appreciate your invaluable feedback and openness to trying new ways of working.
And to every professional who joined Roleshare, thank you for seeing us as an enabler in your work/life; whether you’re looking after someone you love, looking after your own wellbeing, learning, growing, freelancing, side hustling, we welcome and value you. And to those who took time to meet with me 1:1 – I can’t express enough gratitude.
To our Roleshare Enablers, coaches and consultants, thank you for the work you do in inspiring companies to work differently and empowering people to advocate for themselves when wanting to work flexibly. Thank you for waiving your flag and ours along with it.
And to everyone one of our podcast and blog guests. Thank you for sharing your experiences and stories. Thousands have read your words and listened to your voices. Special shout out to Nichola Johnson-Marshall and Sherelle Folkes for their catalyzing interview, and to MaryLou Costa for her thought-provoking works on the topic.
"Our experienced enterprise leadership team."
And if you’re curious about our team, I’ve got you covered
Dave Smallwood – co-Founder | co-Ceo (ex: ClearChannel, American Express, PayPal , EMBA LBS). Enterprise sales and partnerships leader.
Polly Howden – CPO (soon to be co-CPO, ex: Gumtree, tes. Part-time @ Notonthehighstreet). B2B2C marketplace product marvel.
Ahmad Mousavi - CTO (ex: Moonpig, SEB, Wonga). Award-winning distributed systems & cloud architect.
Soha Ahmed - Project Lead. Data-driven digital Product Manager, and she codes too!
Thomas Forster – Full stack engineer. Loves nothing more than coding – check, check, check.
And “moi” – Co-founder | Co-Ceo (ex: Facebook, ebay). Obsessed with bringing enterprise voice-of-customer front and center.
Lynda Gratton - Author of The 100-Year Life, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School.
Q Hamirani - Global Head People Operation at Airbnb, ex Deloitte.
Desigan Chinniah - ex Mozilla, Skype. Startup + fundraising expert. Serves on a number of startups.
Ali Minaei - ex PayPal, CTO of Gr8vy. Integration specialist.
Thanks for reading, do get in touch with us.
Written by Sophie Smallwood, Co-Founder, co-Ceo of Roleshare