Mike Tognotti’s decision to start his own company proved to be the best choice for not only his career, but for many others’ as well. Raindance Partners is a national recruitment company that is a genuine reflection of both Mike’s personal expertise and his desire to help others reach their own career goals.
Tognotti is a former Vice President Sales of a biotech company based in Seattle and prior to that, he worked for Illumina, one of the largest DNA sequencing companies in the world. But in 2008, he saw a unique opportunity in which he could combine his industry knowledge with that of his technical scientific background and decided start Raindance Partners.
At the time, Mike and his wife had three kids in diapers, and while it was risky to make such a bold move in that economic climate, he says he had the full support of his wife, and that together they believed in his vision. Thankfully, he did well in his first year and was able to grow his team, proving that he had a solid model and that the need for his service was substantial.
The focus of Raindance Partners, as Mike explains, is nationwide executive placement. They work for companies that are looking for qualified individuals for specific positions, often in the technology and biotechnology industries. Mike says he thinks of the bulk of the work they do as conducting “career consultations” with people. With corporate headquarters in Santa Barbara and offices in the Bay Area, they plan to expand to Asia and Europe in 2017-18.
Coming from an academic background in molecular and cell biology, he gravitated toward biotech and research early on, but eventually evolved his career into selling and marketing biotech products. He realized that he really loved finding rare and exceptional talent for companies that result in gainful, long-term fits. Mike says that helping people is a great passion of his, and nothing gives him more gratification than making these connections for both the employee and employer.
The desire to be of service extends to his team as well. Mike explains that Raindance Partners is built upon three core values that drive decisions and create the company culture: family, health, and helping others. “Almost all of our employees are family people with kids. They have technical degrees and backgrounds, but many have stopped to have a family. They still want to contribute, so they work on their own time from wherever they are.” Mike says he is committed to his team being able to live their lives and take care of their families first, while still making a good living.
“he Talks abouT The west Coast as being one of The hoT spoTs for innovation. sanTa barbara in parTicular, is a hub for experienced execuTives and highly educaTed people”
Repurposing the scientific method
Today, Mike explains that he utilizes his background in science in his recruiting business. Because many of the positions he recruits for are technical, he uses a scientific approach to finding the right people and vetting them appropriately. The formula he’s developed for matching people to companies is repeatable and is in fact based on the scientific method’s approach to finding solutions. The team builds relational mapping between candidates and the positions that employers are looking for. Mike explains, “It’s not about the transaction – it’s really about the equilibrium, the fit on both sides. We are thorough and specific, and we have good intentions throughout the entire process.”
Mike sees the California coast as “one big Silicon Valley” in regard to the talent pool from which he draws on his clients’ behalf. Over the years, they’ve built their own proprietary database that they combine with other resources, such as LinkedIn. He talks about the West Coast as being one of the hot spots for innovation. Santa Barbara in particular, is a hub for experienced executives and highly educated people. All this makes Santa Barbara a great central location for Raindance Partners.
Lighting up Social Impact
Mike Tognotti has larger visions for his company, and he’s particularly excited about getting to the point where the company can grow its philanthropic capacity to make an impact in the larger community.
One example already underway involves a collaboration with Impact Hub member, Megan Birney, the president of local nonprofit Unite to Light, which makes small solar-powered portable lights and phone chargers intended for developing nations and those in need. While feeding the homeless with his church, Mike learned that many homeless women feel insecure when they’re unable to charge their cell phones, or don’t have access to light at night. So Mike and Megan decided to figure out how to distribute Unite To Light’s solar powered phone charging devices to homeless women in Santa Barbara. They are currently in the planning phases and want to expand this effort in 2017.
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