Before becoming an entrepreneur, Delphine Carter said she, like many women, had a nonlinear career path. While she’s held roles in sales, operations, client relations, and product management, it was her personal struggle trying to hire project-specific talent that ultimately led to the launch of a new business.
“I’d find myself needing a copywriter or somebody to help run a project or somebody to help do graphics. And I couldn’t find them through the traditional HR process. But that weekend, I’d be sitting on the field with my kid and the mom next to me would be the exact person that I needed. And she’s sitting there complaining that she can’t find a job because she’s not getting surfaced on Indeed or ZipRecruiter or LinkedIn,” Carter told Hypepotamus.
Carter recognized a trend that workforce data validates: Stay-at-home moms struggle to re-enter the workforce or even land an interview.
Carter saw the need to connect companies with diverse, non-traditional talent and help women jump back into their careers. What was born was Boulo Solutions (pronounced boo-low), a career and staffing platform designed to host more flexible job opportunities for women looking to stay in, or rejoin, the workforce.
“We hear a lot of women who start off the conversation, well, I’ve just been a mom these past two years. And that word ‘just’ drives me up a wall,” said Carter.
During the onboarding process, women are asked to think critically about skills gained both inside and outside of a traditional office.
Boulo, coming from the French word for gig work, builds a 360-degree profile to highlight not only professional experience, but also personal history, soft skills, and other unique experiences acquired during a nonlinear career path.
Boulo works to place women in project-specific, part-time, or even permanent positions. Jobs on the platform include roles in marketing, project management, financial services, accounting, and product management.
On the company placement side, Carter said Boulo works particularly well with growing tech companies, as they are more agile and are often more “willing to bring somebody on for something that’s different than full-time employment.”
Businesses can host a role for free and are typically given 3-5 profiles within 72 hours.
COVID and the changing dynamics of work
COVID has disproportionately hurt working mothers and caregivers, who have been leaving the workforce at four times the rate of their male counterparts.
For Carter, the pandemic has helped companies re-evaluate traditional hiring practices and has made it more important for teams to really “dial into” the type of candidate they are recruiting.
“When [COVID] first hit, everything stopped, the world stopped, life stopped. And then slowly, we realized businesses still needed to operate and still had goals to meet. People started to think differently about hiring somebody as a full-time employee. They started being more open to bringing somebody in for a project or having them in a part-time role,” added Carter. “Having a strong candidate who’s working 30 hours is often of equal output to somebody who’s maybe a little [less experienced] but works 40 hours.”
For Boulo, the remote work model that quickly became the standard over the course of the pandemic can benefit women trying to re-enter the workforce who might need more flexibility.
While Boulo works to build a holistic profile of women looking to re-enter the workforce, Carter says the platform can also help women already in the workforce who are exploring non-traditional work setups and contract-based work.
“If you’re really struggling, don’t quit. Come to us and let us help you find something that gives you more flexibility,” Carter added. “Let us show you how valuable you are.”
“Women leave jobs not just because they don’t have flexible opportunities, but because of career stagnation and lack of support. And so if we can help them see how to grow that career so it doesn’t stagnate…then I think we can expedite these women’s careers.”
The team has grown to be eleven people after completing a seed round this January, with team members in Birmingham and across the Southeast. Boulo also participated in Atlanta-based Zane Venture Fund’s first Capital Readiness cohort.