One Hungover Morning...
On a hungover morning, Thor Wood, who now resides in Indianapolis, was chugging his coffee battling a rather intense headache when he realized it wasn’t the previous nights shenanigans causing the brain pain, rather it was a massive idea dominating his mind. Simply put he thought he could make it easier for servers, bartenders, and others in the service & hospitality industry to pick up extra shifts for additional income and in turn help the restaurants and bars have appropriate staffing at all times.
Wood had spent over a decade in the service industry, and wondered how he could create a proper mechanism for those within the industry to properly take advantage of the gig economy. Wood launched a new venture, Avail Productivity Systems, and subsequently developed an app called SnapShyft. Wood began working in the industry when he was 14 years old, followed by another decade in staffing and recruiting. This experience works in Thor’s favor, as he can fully grasp both ends of the equation, and he and co-founder Stephanie Corliss have been laser-focused on bringing the platform to life.
Corliss explains that bars and restaurants actually lose business when they are understaffed because customers end up waiting way too long for a table or even a drink refill which causes them to simply walk away spending less overall, or even nothing. SnapShyft enables food & beverage venues to connect with the broad swath of professionals that make up the industry, including servers, bartenders, cooks, security, and even dishwashers who are looking for extra work and better compensation. Since the majority of workers also often work part-time at multiple venues, this platform allows them to pick up extra shifts without really committing to adding another static employment scenario. Logistically it’s an incredible opportunity for both end users.
SnapShyft had their soft launch in Indianapolis in September and have since witnessed tremendous support and adoption, reaching beyond their target market. Without much effort, the company has actually reached users in over 130 cities across 42 states, with over 200 food & beverage venues in Indy having already created an account on the app, and over 1,500 service/hospitality professionals locally. Although not yet live outside of the Indy Metro area, plans have been laid out to enter new markets in 2018 which I think would be very exciting for (wink, wink) Orlando, San Diego, Louisville, Columbus, Cincinnati, Austin, and Minneapolis.
OK, so the app itself is free for both the industry workers, and any type of food & beverage venue, including major event centers, sports facilities, and concert venues. Creating an account and posting available shifts is free. Today, venues can simply create their free account and have unlimited access to post available shifts, paying only for the workers’ time spent covering shifts plus a nominal $20 booking fee. Additional features forthcoming will allow venues to upgrade their account to meet their unique needs. “The biggest hurdle since launch has been efficiently educating those in the industry on a new way of thinking & doing. Eliminating bad habits is a tough process,” says Thor. You can usually find him (and his impressive beard) out and about around Indy engaging people from the industry and doing what he can to help from an awareness & education standpoint.
SnapShyft connects two users in immediate need in instances like a restaurants or bar owner who might have had any number of workers call off, to a server or bartender who might already had a shift but is looking to get some extra cash and pick up another money making gig. “The food and beverage (hospitality) industry is always overlooked…There are millions of people that earn their living, that put food on the table because of this industry and we want to make it easier. We want to make it better,” Wood said. The 5 year vision according to Wood, is to fully arm the entire food & beverage industry with our technology platform enabling them to strengthen their bottom lines, both venues and workers. 15 million professionals and over 1 million venues stand to benefit greatly from what they do.
After moving back to Indy from sunny Florida, Wood pitched his initial concept at the Indy Startup Challenge, a 10-week bootcamp for budding entrepreneurs to present original business ideas, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal, where they competed alongside and eventually beat out 14 other startups for a cash prize and services, including access to a popular local co-working facility in Downtown Indianapolis, The Speak Easy. The dynamics that drove the decision to set up shop in Indy were supported by several factors including the technology ecosystem in place as well as a robust food & beverage scene (article quote of Indy being top foodie destination) and the #1 convention city in the Country.
“SnapShyft is going to give people the power to control their schedule which gives them the ability to control their income and their precious time,” said Jeremy Miller, SnapShyft, “Venues stand to benefit immensely, since repeat business typically makes up nearly ⅓ of revenue. Making sure the customer has a great experience every time, begins with being fully staffed”.
Food & beverage is a heavily populated industry that provides full-time and part-time work. SnapShyft essentially creates day-by-day contract employment for people searching for a shift and for the venues that require extra assistance. This platform is truly transforming the service industry and has entered as a complete game changer for so many people. Thor’s hangover berthed an idea that has been brought to life and is now changing the service industry one venue at a time. My recommendation is to keep an eye out for SnapShyft. Cheers.