M Squared was/is a great business, although not everyone saw that at the time. Deploying a network of independent consultants in a just in time management approach was radical in 1988; there was an evangelical dimension to our sales pitch back in the day. But over time, the world caught up with this innovative work model. Now the gig economy is all over the press. I laugh when I read that people think the issue of Uber drivers being contractors is new; we were dealing with that problem 20 year ago.
So I found it curious earlier this year when three different business groups wanted my insights about new business propositions in the human capital networking space. One wanted to become the “common app” in recruiting, eliminating human intervention as much as possible. Another wanted to create a staffing supply network on the African continent to facilitate oil exploration and the employment demands that go along with it.
The one I spent the most time with, though, was a VC led exploration of a “mom” network. An M Squared for credentialed MBA moms who wanted to get back into the workforce. The irony here, is that this value proposition was the inspiration for M Squared. The exponential term initially stood for “Mother Managers”, but my partner Paula Reynolds, and I lost that early on. You see many female professionals don’t want to be labeled as Mom’s. Moreover, as one Genetech scientist said, I “I will measure your professionalism by my peer group, and there are no other women in my peer group.”
So I spent several days over several months with the VC led team, who were amazing technology strategists who wanted to “disrupt” the human capital marketplace and find some “white space” with this new mom offering. That said, none of them had any staffing, recruiting or even professional services backgrounds, so my expertise did fill a void for them. Since they were still looking for that “killer app” we discussed many different models for a new business. As we discussed various options, either offshoots of the mom core business, or new directions entirely, I came to see some opportunities in this very crowded space. These are the opportunities I am exploring now.