A majority of venture-backed startups and their investors work with the same banker. But for many of the bank’s clients, funding is not the only hurdle to growth: accessing top talent is a consistent challenge. And as the gig economy grows, more executives are looking for new ways to rapidly enter leadership roles — many of them non-traditional. The High Alpha Innovation team partnered with this leading bank to survey opportunities and define new business ideas.
This exercise shed light on a new way to scale executive teams: a mix of interim executive talent to quickly fill gaps, fractional executive talent to provide strategic guidance, part-time functional mentors and advisors to advise new leaders, project-based consultants to fill in specific holes, and traditional full-time outside hires. Why approach this opportunity with a startup? High Alpha Innovation’s unique Sprint Week forcing function cut through the ambiguity and allowed our partner to learn by quickly launching an independent company with us in the adjacent non-banking services space.
In less than 6 months, the High Alpha Innovation team and its partner launched Bolster, a marketplace for on-demand executive talent for venture-backed startups. Bolster’s platform matches companies with top executive talent and enables investors to seamlessly connect their talent networks to the CEOs of their portfolio companies. Bolster also provides software and services to help CEOs assess and benchmark their leadership teams and board, and helps flexible executives build and manage their consulting practice. What began as a whiteboard business idea is now an established startup complete with a full team, more than 700 clients, 3,500 executive members, and a growing list of customers including notable brands like Gainsight and Quizlet.