Entrepreneurs often have a difficult time finding people with the right skills when and where they need them. One way that enablers and entrepreneurs can solve this problem is to leverage skills-based volunteering platforms and build partnerships with universities and businesses that help connect entrepreneurs to qualified talent.

We’re at a very critical point right now where we are going to potential sponsors and pitching them about what we’re bringing to the New York biotech scene. Creating a succinct pitch deck was very important for major meetings we’ve had in the last month, especially with major pharmaceutical companies.

— Nicole McKnight, co-founder, KiiLN

The Issue:

Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to obtain business professionals with specialized skills to help address issues their ventures are facing. This challenge is only amplified in the social sector, where resource constraints may make it difficult to attract and hire highly skilled professionals.

The Solution:

Businesses can help social entrepreneurs fill specific skills gaps by using a “matchmaking” approach to connect entrepreneurs with talent with specialized skills. Catchafire, a for-purpose social mission business and certified B-Corporation, matches professionals with social enterprises based on their skills, cause interest, and time availability. With a network of around 30,000 mission-driven professionals that was bolstered by a 2015 partnership with LinkedIn, Catchafire’s step-by-step process makes it easy for volunteers to “give what they’re good at.” By requiring interested organizations to make a financial investment in the form of a fee and allowing professionals to select the level of commitment – from a 1-hour phone call to a 3-month scoped project – Catchafire does the work of aligning the needs and goals of both sides.

The Impact:

The co-founder of KiiLN, a social enterprise based in East Harlem, New York that aims to provide an affordable biotech laboratory incubator to support early stage start-ups, needed guidance in order to secure investment and perfect her pitch. Through Catchafire, she was matched with Larry Chaityn, an expert in life sciences and venture capital fundraising. Larry helped reframe KiiLN’s presentation to communicate the organization’s value more effectively; his 30 hour pitch deck creation project was valued at $6,000 for KiiLN.

How it applies to your city:

Cities that aim to make it easier for entrepreneurs to connect with skills-based volunteers may consider digital platforms that reduce the burden of matching the needs of ventures with the desires of passionate, skilled professionals.