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Why we founded The Mintable

For my co-founder, Mel Miller, and I, starting The Mintable was the culmination of everything we’ve succeeded at, failed at, and believed deeply.

We are building a community-based learning and growth platform for ambitious managers. Our vision is to inspire everyone to reach their full potential.

The Mintable was founded to solve a meaningful and universally felt problem: people managers are ill-equipped for their important roles in developing and helping others succeed. The idea was inspired by years of building and scaling teams at high-growth start-ups, the realization that this is a truly global problem, and the challenges managers face now and as we look toward the future.

It was forged out of a multi-year partnership and friendship between Mel and I and is being brought to life by the kind of founding team I never thought was possible.

Experience

In many ways, The Mintable journey began in 2015 when I became the manager of a fast-growing team at Gusto. We were commercializing a new business line and I was responsible for building a wide range of functions from scratch – marketing, sales, onboarding, support, operations, compliance, and recruiting. Very quickly, I made a bunch of mistakes and learned important lessons in people management.

Luckily, I had supportive leaders who helped me get to the root cause of issues and implement soft skill strategies and systems. I was also able to draw on the incredible teachings, frameworks, and science from my studies at Harvard in organizational psychology.

Over the next few years, I became a manager-of-managers and a manager-of-manager-of-managers. I found that when I invested in the development of my people managers, their teams performed better, we retained top talent, and our culture was strong.

Mel was one of the managers on my team and over our 4 years working together, I learned many of the best management practices and skills from her, not to mention how to be a better human. Together, we invested in off-sites and workshops to enable managers and hone our craft. We even partnered with Learning and Development (L&D) to build a development program for aspiring and new managers in Sales and Customer Experience to promote internal mobility and fill open manager roles.

After 5 years at Gusto, I fell in love with my kid’s daycare app (Brightwheel) and decided to join their exec team. I soon found myself partnering with the People team to enable managers across the business – we trained managers on key skills and created cohorts for learning and connection.

The Realization

Then, in January 2021 my family and I moved to Sydney, Australia. I began interviewing at a range of strong companies headquartered in Australia, the UK, and the USA. I was shocked to find the same symptoms of ill-equipped people managers and opportunities to scale leadership. I started to obsess about the problem of managers. In April 2021, I decided to call the best manager I’ve ever worked with – Mel Miller – to see if we might solve this together.

She became my sounding board as I went deep on managers and their supporters (HR, founders, execs), the cost of the problem (bad managers cost US companies alone $960BN annually!), and the current landscape.

We conducted interviews with managers of varying experience levels as well as HR leaders, execs, and founders. We researched extensively and learned that the majority of managers in the workforce are Millennials; who are more burnt out than any other member of the workforce. Looking to the future, Gen Z is a brutally honest generation that expects more from its leaders.

The predominance of survey tools, like CultureAmp, means that most companies tie team engagement to business performance and culture and are bought into the role managers play in their success.

It felt like we were uncovering the world’s best kept secret. Managers are ill-equipped and want to be better everywhere. For a job that is critical to business success and only getting harder.

Challenges

We also quickly discovered that while the HR tech space is crowded with tools managers are asked to use, there are actually few solutions built to address the problems managers face. Solutions focused exclusively on managers are limited: coaching, training, books, podcasts, conferences all tend to focus on broad leadership skills and senior execs. In fact, we learned the most common place managers go for help is “Google” followed by “books” followed by “my partner at home”.

As we dove deeper into the challenges managers face, we found the problem is complex. They lack confidence and capability in soft skills, they are overwhelmed by the multifaceted nature of their role, and they are under-supported and often isolated. That explained why companies weren’t able to broadly and consistently solve the issue. It’s a hard problem to solve and requires dedicated expertise, technology, and something greater than can be found within the walls of any one business – community.

I launched an MVP in June 2021 – a 4-week, cohort-based learning program for managers. The idea was to validate what we were learning and see if anyone might pay for help. In the first 6 months, more than 600 managers paid to join The Mintable and complete our accelerator. Not only did we find that we were solving a core problem, we also learned how acute it is.

The Team

Mel took the leap to join me in September 2021. In many ways, we are unusual founders. She’s based in Denver, CO and I’m based in Australia. We’re both moms of 2 young kids. Neither of us is an engineer.

But we understand our customers deeply and focus every solution on the challenges they face. We’ve also been solving our customers’ problems and partnering with People teams for almost a decade. We know how to hire and build strong teams, who can do things we cannot. We know we can do hard things together. And we respect and trust each other deeply.

We often joke that we’re forming the Avengers for people managers as our Founding team. Ill-equipped people managers is a gnarly problem to solve. Each person is driven, talented, and unique. We all want to do and be better. We’ve got all-stars in Josh Agudo as Head of Eng, Trish Duffy as Head of Learning, Michelle Yanez-Olivares as Head of Community, Andy Griffing as Chief of Staff, MC Dean as Head of Product, Alvin Yeap as Principal Data Scientist, Mikyla Houston as Founding Account Executive, and Katie Higgins as Head of Marketing.

What’s Next?

In our line of work, it would be tempting to label “bad bosses” as the villain. I mean, we’ve all had bad managers. In fact, 50% of employees are thinking about leaving their job specifically because of their manager. It takes 22 months for an employee to recover from the effects of a bad boss.

So yes, we are trying to eradicate bad managers. But great managers are not born. The soft skills required to be a great manager are hard and don’t come naturally. Great managers are taught, trained and grown.

We are fighting for and alongside managers (and their teams and companies). We’re on a mission to develop and support great people managers globally, and create a community where managers belong.

Join us.

Author

  • Lauren Humphrey

    Lauren Humphrey is co-founder and CEO of The Mintable. Prior to starting the company, she was on the executive team at Brightwheel and commercialized the health insurance business at Gusto. She has built and grown high performing teams across Sales, Onboarding, Support, Operations, and Customer Success. She served as President of The Seneca, Inc. and studied organizational psychology at Harvard. Lauren lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner, Tom, and 2 sons. She loves ocean swimming, reading, and adventures with her family.