StepNW, founded by entrepreneur Mike Kelly, is a startup team enrichment program. The goal for StepNW is to connect experienced workers with startups that have need for talent. The nonprofit organization is volunteer-run and free for startups and job seekers.
Job seekers submit resumes to StepNW, which then removes identifiers such as name or contact information and instead shares experience, skills, abilities, and interests to startups in an effort to keep work aptitude at the forefront. StepNW partnered with Kirkland-based Jobvention to assist with these resume submissions. When companies find a match, they will contact StepNW to express interest, and StepNW connects a job seeker with the interested company.
In his work with StepNW, Kelly has learned quite a bit about the Eastside startup community. The breadth of experience demonstrated by job seekers who are signed up with the program took him a little by surprise.
“The key problem is that there is a disconnect between the titles and the roles people had and what the startups think they need,” Kelly says.
He cited a conversation he had a primary product manager at Microsoft, a position that takes a concept and moves it along into planning, implementation, and product creation. But a startup only has one product, and the responsibilities of position like a primary product manager is generally taken on by the COO.
“We started meeting with these people, and they weren’t just groups of testers, which is what we sort of expected to be dealing with initially. It was people who ran business units at Microsoft for 10 years. Some of these people have done finance and managed IPOs. Quite frankly I was a little shocked but pleasantly surprised at the sheer depth and breadth of the talent available,” Kelly says.
After learning this, Kelly says the larger issue is to translate to each side how they can complement one another. Kelly hopes to help build a network of support for the Eastside startup community.
“It’s about helping people understand their areas of expertise and their experience and how it applies to startups and where it could fit,” he says. The organization has already held two events to help connect job seekers and startups, and plans on more in the future.