Yair Griver and Denise Draper at the Small Business Expo 2016 at the Seattle Convention Center. TOM CRAWFORD/Contributed photo

Kirkland-based Strenga connects veteran professionals with small businesses

By Cynthia Flash

Special to the Reporter

Former Microsoft managers Yair Alan Griver and Denise Draper have launched Kirkland-based Strenga, a one-stop-shop for small and medium businesses seeking support services from veteran, mid-career professionals.

Using an online platform, the company connects small businesses with seasoned professionals who can provide legal, human resources, computer, marketing, operations, project management, sales and strategic support. From incorporation papers, to market research, to technology needs and beyond, Strenga gives companies more options for their business needs.

“Strenga offers the one place on the Internet where small businesses can come to easily connect to seasoned professionals who can quickly help them with everything from startup legal documents to ongoing marketing plans and execution,” Griver, who led teams at Microsoft for more than 10 years and lives in Redmond, said.

Strenga also provides a place where professionals can go to find new clients for their work.

“Think of it as a matchmaking service that connects small business owners who are looking to work with single shingle seasoned professionals on one-time projects or for ongoing work, but who don’t have the money or amount of work to add headcount,” Griver said.

Griver and Draper aim to capitalize on the growing trend of mid-career employees branching out into “portfolio careers,” where they use the skills they’ve gained through decades in the workforce to independently provide services to a variety of clients.

Both Strenga founders noticed the trend among their peers and came up with the idea after personally seeing and experiencing the need for such a company.

“A big part of the motivation for Strenga came from seeing the value in helping both small businesses and the ‘portfolio’ folks,” Draper, who has worked at several startups and as a consultant, said. “This focus on experienced pros puts us in a different camp from other gig economy startups that typically focus only on lower costs.”

Griver recalls when he was mentoring an attorney who had recently left Microsoft. The attorney had the knowledge of a large firm, partner-level intellectual property lawyer. However, he didn’t want to work at such a firm. At the same time, he didn’t know how to advertise his services and recognized that building his business through word-of-mouth would take too long. A few years before that, Griver himself needed an IP attorney but couldn’t find a good one that his small startup could afford.

“I put the two ideas together and here we are. Unlike other websites that ask businesses to submit proposals for professionals to bid on, Strenga professionals show businesses what kind of work they do and allow the businesses to contact them to flesh out projects and scope of work,” Griver said.

Draper and Griver screen the career veterans and the services are free for businesses. The company makes money by taking a percentage of the fees charged by the service providers. Strenga is serving the local community first, and plans to expand nationally next year.