It’s not an accident that our office sits minutes away from the doors of one of the greatest tech events in the US, SXSW. We had 8 days of events planned around SXSW, including significant business development opportunities with Deloitte, Texas A&M University, Army Futures Command and many more. I remember distinctly, we were in front of Hotel Van Zandt, headed to Rainey Street for Friday Happy Hour with my team and a text came across my phone. “SXSW Confirmed – Cancelled” I agree that SXSW didn’t have a choice other than to cancel, but it impacted Austin in a profound way. Over 400,000 people would have been part of this annual event scheduled to start in just one week.
This was a Monday of one of the busiest weeks we have ever had. Seven of Fortune 100 companies reached out for product demos and pricing. This was a result of our pre-SXSW campaigns so it was money well spent.
Each passing day the news was looking more and more like we would be entering a lock-down and quarantine. Although we are a tech company, we are also a very close team. We work together everyday, we use EOS as our operational framework and are used to seeing each other, face to face, everyday.
It was beginning to look like that our company would need to go entirely remote very soon.
The Governor of Texas issued a lock-down order and we proceeded to make sure that our team had everything they needed to work from home for weeks, and possibly months.
Months ago, our company had planned a three day off-site scheduled to start on March 25th. Instead, this meeting became a 14-hour long, mostly virtual, Zoom-site meeting.
The previous day, we received notice that after four months of meetings and due diligence, our incoming investor wasn’t going to move forward with any investments, due to COVID-19.
“No pressure. No diamonds.”
As a team, this was the moment where we really reflected on our company core values and let those guide us for this very long and important meeting.
Our company tagline is ‘Matching That Matters’ so the real question became, ‘How are we going to live up to that tagline?’
Following several hours of debate we decided to remove all the constraints in our minds. We would set out to design what needed to be done and then start knocking down the obstacles one by one.
So what are the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why of this problem?
Fortunately one of our partners, Maslo.ai CEO Ross Ingram, had met the public relations team, LolaRed when he was engineering the BB8 toy robot from Star Wars. Ross, LolaRed and I began to work on the content and timing of the press release and it was scheduled for Tuesday, April 21st.
Although the tech world knows me more from my R&D time at ideaSpace-University of Cambridge, I’m also a graduate of Texas A&M University and have recently been humbled by a nomination for Outstanding Alumni of the College of Architecture – Construction Sciences.
April 21st is the day that every Aggie, around the world, remembers the Aggies that we have lost this year. The ceremony is called Aggie Muster. We typically come together for a very traditional, somber ceremony. It’s a tradition that makes me proud to be an Aggie. This year we will come together in spirit alone.
I feel like we will launch our solution and also be acknowledging that we have lost a decade of job growth. It’s a sobering reality but I am happy we will have the team at LolaRed to help us let Americans know that we have their back and a solution is on the way.
After much discussion, we finally have a name for our solution.
The online platform will be called WorkThisWay and we hope people will immediately hear Aerosmith and DMC’s collaboration on ‘Walk This Way’. It’s a great classic.
Maslo.ai’s mobile solution will be called ‘Career Companion’. And both are being built to serve job seekers and companies for the next decade.
Most employers are saying they will be hiring back only 25% – 50% of the workers they have laid off in Q1 & Q2 of 2020. We hope this has been underestimated but we are planning to lead the reassembly of the US workforce and the need to guide millions of people to jobs.
After many weeks and countless hours of work under the most stressful of conditions, today our press release was distributed to over 135 publications. While we might just be getting started, the show of support insured us that we are on the right track, and gave us the energy to continue our mission to help those affected by this pandemic.
We will continue to update this post regularly, so please check back in. And thank you to everyone who has joined or network or showed support during this journey. We truly appreciate it and couldn’t have done it without you.