This Startup Aims to Help Older Professionals Find Jobs

Tengia hopes to solve the problem of experienced individuals being overlooked because of their age.
This Startup Aims to Help Older Professionals Find Jobs
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While it's great that people today are living and remaining healthy longer, it also presents a problem: These individuals may no longer want to work full time, but they may still want to put their lifetime of experience to good use.

This cohort may experience issues finding work suitable for them or get passed over in favor of younger members of the workforce. There also have been instances of flat-out age discrimination against older workers. Meanwhile, having a sense of purpose can increase lifespan, according to research by Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Related: There Are More Older Americans in the Workforce Than Ever Before, Pew Says

Deoné Sulgatti saw an opportunity in this issue and last July launched Tengia, a job matching platform for older members of the workforce. (The name is derived from the Icelandic word for connect, "tengja.")

"As with most startups, I didn’t just wake up one day and decide that I wanted to build a platform to help retirees find part-time work," she told Entrepreneur via email. "I set out to fix a problem that I saw firsthand."

Sulgatti, whose background is in marketing and business development, previously consulted for an architecture firm. The company held several unsuccessful interviews before extending an offer to a 70-year-old architect "who was willing to work for much less than people half his age," Sulgatti said. She then realized that people such as this professional might make use of a job site if there were one designed for them. Companies could also benefit by finding help at a lower cost than if they hired someone younger.

Tengia users create a profile that lists their work experience and skills. No lengthy resume is required, Sulgatti said. The site then places them in a job category. Businesses go to the category they're seeking help with and see a list of the professionals available for hire. Tengia makes money by charging a percentage per transaction and is considering other revenue models as well.

Related: Advice for Older Americans Seeking Employment

So far, the first-time entrepreneur's biggest challenge has been marketing Tengia to baby boomers. Sulgatti, working with a silent partner, is bootstrapping the venture, which has not yet hired employees. She said she hopes to secure a first round of funding soon.

"A close CEO friend of mine told me that as a CEO, I have three things to focus on: making the money, building my team and defining the vision," she said. "Every day I come into the office, I try to let those words of advice guide my actions."
Edition: June 2017

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