Military spouse entrepreneurs create a work-anywhere company to remove a common barrier

Instant Teams: Military spouse-created remote work business among the nation's fastest-growing companies
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Founded in 2016 by military spouses Liza Rodewald and Erica McMannes, Instant Teams is a talent marketplace that uses skill-based hiring to provide remote work opportunities and career continuation to a significantly underserved talent pool: military spouses.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the unemployment rate for military spouses has hovered over 20% for the last decade – more than five times the national average. There are approximately 12 million active duty and veteran spouses. “If I even employed 10% of them,” says Rodewald, “I’d be one of the largest companies in the world.”

Prior to the work-from-home movement necessitated by the pandemic, military spouses were already in need of remote work solutions due to the transient nature of military operations. As service members complete their service and further their careers in the armed forces, military spouses are left to the whims of relocation, which makes finding long-term and gainful employment a difficult endeavor.

“I kept getting offers for temporary contract positions,” says Instant Teams business analyst Ariane Barrera, “but what I really wanted to do is to find a place where I could continue to develop my skills as well as grow within the company.”

Realizing that many companies were in a crunch for talent while, at the same time, a massive population of untapped talent was seeking job opportunities led Rodewald and McMannes to a disruptive solution: a proprietary technological platform that would connect military spouses to flexible remote work positions from customers who joined to post remote jobs.

The result was a fully remote team marketplace where companies can customize remote teams using a skills-based hiring model and tech-enabled talent pipelines. And investors took note. In March 2022, Instant Teams closed their $13 million Series A funding, a remarkable feat given that female entrepreneurs typically secure only 2% of venture capital funding each year.

“When I met Liza and Erica and they walked me through their vision to turn this global population into a remote workforce, I thought it was fascinating,” says Guy Fillippelli, managing director at Squadra Ventures. “I saw it as an opportunity to basically deliver world class talent, frankly speaking, at a price point that sat in between outsourcing, say to Asia or Eastern Europe, and insourcing in the United States.”

Six years after its inception, Instant Teams has joined the ranks of the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies, a list whose previous honorees include Chobani, Jamba Juice, Meta, Microsoft, Pandora, Patagonia, and Under Armour.

Companies on the 2022 list have demonstrated resilience amid supply chain issues, labor shortages, and the ongoing impact of pandemic, a testament to Rodewald’s and McManne’s foresight to the future of work.

“This company can really be the place where remote team members, regardless of what company they work for, start and end their day,” says Squadra Ventures COO Margaret Roth Falzon. “Instant Teams becomes an operating system for remote workers not only from which to do their work, but to have community, have culture, have coworkers in a way that many remote team remote workers don’t get the opportunity to do, and that is an infinitely scalable business model.”

Today, Instant Teams is improving the financial stability of military and veteran families and supporting a wide portfolio of customers and their remote teams.

“There’s still millions out there who need an opportunity and that takes collaboration. Instant teams won’t solve that alone, so we are continuing to build the community,” says McMannes. “And by building an organization that has a natural talent pool of this beautiful diversity, it really brings the opportunity for that to come to our customers and get that out into the workforce.”