Many skilled workers are being left behind by the current work model in the United States, where jobs are part-time or full-time. Working 40 set hours a week is tough for people like carers, but part-time jobs don’t have the same benefits or career growth potential. Handoff, one of TechCrunch’s Disrupt Battlefield 200 startups, wants to do a concept called job sharing, where two people share the responsibilities and pay of a full-time job but get the same, more prevalent benefits.
Founder and CEO LaToria Pierce started working on Handoff while attending Ideas42 Venture Studio. Pierce was invited to build from lived experiences and challenges. She was inspired by her mother, who was a single mother, and decided to find an inclusive solution for single mothers. She spent a year talking to working mothers and employers.
“What I discovered was that there was this mismatch and the ‘why’ struck me: how come we don’t see working mothers in certain organizations in certain roles? The experience of 40 hours a week is a barrier for many parents and caregivers,” Pierce said. “They have the skills, they have the permanence and they have the tenacity, but time can be an issue.”
Job sharing is already commonly used in many European countries, and Handoff’s mission is to extend it to the United States as well, helping employers create a base to start offering job sharing roles. . Its minimum viable product is a job-sharing activation tool that ensures that a job-sharing relationship is manageable and that work is divided equally between the two people. When Handoff launched its first pilot program, “the talent started coming in droves,” Pierce said. The startup has therefore set up a talent connection portal for them, which fast-tracks employers to qualified and pre-screened talent.
Job sharing can contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion by bringing more women, women of color and caregivers into the workforce, Pierce said. Handoff’s talent pool includes a wide range of professional and educational backgrounds, including people with a high school diploma and more than ten years of experience, people with an MBA and people who have worked in public or public sectors. 98% of people accessing the Handoff portal are caregivers and 75% are people of color.
Organizations are looking for people to fill positions in business administration, executive and administrative assistants, human resources and marketing. Pierce says these spaces are Handoff’s strengths because employers see high turnover and need to fill multiple positions, but struggle to hire qualified employees. It also recently launched a pilot program with group care homes, many of which already use a job-sharing system, to test Handoff’s software for employee coordination.
Handoff’s go-to-market plan includes working with employer partners (it’s currently used by organizations like stock media service Storyblocks). He is now raising his pre-seed fund and targeting $500,000 to $1 million. The higher amount would give Handoff an extended track of 18 months.