You’re probably tired of looking at the news around D.C. and seeing headlines of “Shutdown this” or “Furloughed that.” Well, this is another shutdown story, but probably the most positive one that doesn’t involve getting drunk at a happy hour.
Startups and entrepreneurs are, in a nutshell, problem-solvers. You give them a problem and they’ll fix it. Well, the city of D.C. hasn’t seen as immense a problem as the federal shutdown in years. Still, entrepreneurs at the 1776 campus have devised a way to make the best of this bogus government meltdown. With the spark of an idea from Tom Clark, VP of marketing for myEDmatch (one of our recent coolest companies), 1776 created a living document of freelance job listings so that qualified workers who are kept from their work until further notice can make some money and small companies that desperately need jobs done can do that on a temporary basis. It’s win-win solution.
“He started thinking these people are all out of work, they have time on their hands. We have stuff that we need to get done. Is there a way to put that out?” said Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776. “Literally within a couple of hours it became viral throughout our whole community.”
Harris said the Google Doc started out as one page on which 1776 residents could put roles they needed filled with descriptions, experience requirements, time commitments, pay and how to get in contact with them.
“Then the idea came: ‘Why not let the people that are furloughed raise their hand and say what skills they can offer a startup,'” Harris said. “So now we’ve got this Google Doc with two pages to it, people uploading their resumes, people posting jobs and we’ve opened it up to the greater D.C. tech community, so you don’t have to be a 1776 startup to be in there. They’re these people who have 10, 15 or 20 plus years of experience in an industry. That expertise is desperately needed, but the problem is that we have one side of the world that doesn’t even know the other side exists.”
That’s perhaps the big takeaway for D.C. startups in outsourcing work to furloughed workers. Not only is it a saving grace for those temporarily out of jobs and the companies in need of workers, but also it’s an opportunity to let governmental tech workers get a taste the startup ecosystem that they may have overlooked in the past.
Harris said it’s a chance to show them “there is a startup ecosystem here, it’s very vibrant and it’s a potential for you and your career. So, what better time to come and explore it?”
To make the most impact, 1776 is hoping to host a furlough networking event, obviously dependent on how long the shut down last. Harris also said she’s at work with partner General Assembly out of New York City to offer furloughed workers free online classes to take advantage of their downtime.
Currently, the spreadsheet has more than 30 jobs and more than 20 candidates on it. For around 24 hours after its creation, that’s pretty good; and no doubt, it’s going to go even more viral.
“I hope we can just use this as a way to open people’s eyes to the fact that your job that you thought was lifetime security is not so, and there’s a whole other set of opportunities out there for you in the startup ecosystem,” the co-founder said. “And oh, by the way, you could work in a startup that’s really trying to make a significant impact in education or curing cancer or tackling problems in energy consumption and transportation. There’s never been a better time for people who thought their jobs were secure to try something completely new.”