Stephanie Nadi Olson calls herself a corporate refugee.
The mother of two spent years at Microsoft and AOL, honing important skills but working inflexible hours. Then she got the startup itch and saw a solution to the typical 9-5 grind.
She founded We Are Rosie as an on-demand marketplace for marketing professionals, where clients get paired with teams or individuals to do specific projects. Those professionals — affectionately called “Rosies” — choose their own hours.
Clients see the startup as a way to fulfill their inclusion and diversity commitments, Olson said.
“I wanted to gather up all the corporate refugees, the moms, the caregivers … the people who have been discriminated against so they don’t want to go into the office … and I’m going to give you work that respects what you need in your personal life,” Olson said.
The platform, which launched in 2018, now has 9,000 professionals who use it. We Are Rosie works with clients such as Facebook, Bumble and Microsoft for marketing projects.
Olson has bootstrapped the company and plans to keep it that way. The inspiration for the startup comes from her daughters. She wants them to work in an environment that accepts all lifestyles.
“We’ve been able to support our talent and our community, build our own tech and stay true to our values,” she said.
The Metro Atlanta Chamber accepted We Are Rosie into the Backed By ATL program for middle-market companies set for high growth. Those companies raise between $2 million to $100 million and also included crime surveillance startup Flock Safety—which reached a $1 billion valuation this year—and marketing tech startup CallRail.
Starting We Are Rosie was a way for Olson to champion inclusivity. The startup accepts all people, from veteran marketers to self-taught beginners. It provides professional development and forums for professionals to connect with one another and ask or answer questions.
The We Are Rosie team built technology to phase out traditional resumes.
“We think that resumes perpetuate discrimination, and they’re a representation of how well you’ve been able to do in a system that was clearly not built for everybody,” Olson said.
The “Rosie Roster” matches marketing professionals with projects based on how they want to work, what they learned from previous experiences as well as their passions and skills.
Clients of We Are Rosie pay the startup, which transfers those payments to the professionals working on the projects. Payments are weekly, and We Are Rosie insures its employees.
At first, companies were skeptical about the flexibility of the platform. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Olson saw the pandemic as an acceleration of a trend that was already happening with flexible work. Rideshare and food delivery apps such as Uber and DoorDash popularized the gig economy, and more white-collar professions have started to adopt the model. In Atlanta, early-stage startup Wripple and high-growth on-demand nursing agency SnapNurse have similar models.
“Brands have to have a flex talent strategy to get your work done, or you’re going to have limited ability to innovate,” Olson said.
We Are Rosie’s revenue is on track to triple this year. The startup has 36 full-time employees who work remotely.