On the heels of a successful Series A $13 million fundraising round in March led by Tiger Global, tech startup Instant Teams has traded in its unofficial Hawaii headquarters for a piece of the North Carolina tech ecosystem.
Founder Liza Rodewald is opening up an Instant Teams office in Pinehurst while planning to get some space at a coworking center like WeWork in the Triangle for networking and customer meetings. Rodewald originally moved to North Carolina a year ago after her husband, who is an active-duty member of the U.S. Army, became the ROTC instructor at Methodist University in Fayetteville.
Before Instant Teams, Rodewald ran LMS Software, a Syracuse, N.Y.-based tech company that delivered custom enterprise applications to the government, healthcare and private corporations. She had an entirely remote team. But it wasn’t until she met her husband, who was then in the Army Reserves, and saw the need from other military spouses that she began iterating on the idea of Instant Teams.
Long before Covid normalized working from home, there was an untapped talent community of military spouses that needed the flexibility of remote work as well as companies that wanted to hire them but didn’t know where to find them.
To fix that, Instant Teams is a two-sided labor marketplace, where companies can build a pipeline of military-affiliated talent for customer support, technical support, operational support and sales support roles. Instead of the traditional method of matching a resume to a job description, the connections are skill- and aptitude-based. With 26,000 plus military-connected, remote-certified workers on the platform, companies experiencing the talent crunch can find ready-to-work candidates immediately.
“The talent market is just changing so rapidly right now, and pre-COVID, one of our number one objections was, ‘Well, maybe we want these people to be on site,’” Rodewald said. “Post-pandemic, obviously, that objection went away.”
Most of Instant Teams’ user base of military families are women (92 percent), and around half identify as part of a minority group (52 percent).
Putting Series A funding to work
Following its Series A funding that was announced in March, Instant Team already has contracts with Amazon, Walmart, high-growth tech companies Expensify and Seesaw as well as around 50 other enterprises.
They also employ over 500 remote team members across the world and experienced 346 percent growth in the last year. This growth is exemplified by the over $17.5 million in salaries generated for military family members on the site via remote employment.
“Over time, we have built the ability for companies to be able to work in a remote setting very successfully with remote culture and the tools that we’ve built along the way to make those teams be successful in a distributed environment,” Rodewald said.
With the pandemic spotlighting remote work on the global stage, perhaps there has never been a better time for Instant Teams to trailblaze on its mission.
“Our North Star vision has remained the same,” Rodewald said, “but the speed at which companies and industries are adopting it is just lightning right now.”
Military spouse underemployment continues to be a concern, as is the talent shortage many companies are facing, putting Instant Teams in a sweet spot to solve both hurdles.
“Our big goal is to be the No. 1 employer of military spouses in the world,” Rodewald said. “That’s the big goal that we’re running towards. We already have put a big dent in that by providing those types of opportunities for a community that’s often overlooked, but very, very capable.”
Moving into the rest of 2022, Instant Teams has fixated on customer growth, strategic key hires and community-based initiatives. In Hawaii, Instant Teams partnered with the state to get local people into remote jobs and offer workforce development, and that’s something Rodewald would love to continue for North Carolina.
“It’s a win-win,” Rodewald said. “Companies get really great talent that they might not have been able to tap into, and the military spouses get career continuation where they can take their job with them.”
Now that the Series A round is over, Rodewald said she is more focused on plugging into North Carolina’s tech ecosystem. By the end of the year, she also hopes to get 200,000 military spouses on Instant Teams and grow its customer base.