Article originally published in Databird Business Journal, Part 12
Co-Founder/COO – SnapShyft
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO FOUND SNAPSHYFT AND WHAT WERE THE MAIN CHALLENGES YOU FACED?
I never aspired to become a founder actually. I was happy bringing in a steady income, working regular business hours and having time to be present in my kids’ lives. I never thought I was capable of more really… I offered to provide some early support to my Co-Founder as he was taking part in a 10 week startup bootcamp/challenge (we won) and looking to build a prototype, etc. But then I started to witness the stories of how we were helping people very early on— many of them being women and many of those women also moms and I could relate to them in many ways. Here we were doing something both smart for business BUT also something that had such a major impact on workers financial livelihood, and creating better outcomes for them. In fact we have received a couple notes of gratitude because we helped save their homes – these stories are what keeps me passionate (and brings out my OCD to make sure our platform delivers time and time again).
The genesis of SnapShyft really began when my Co-Founder had very poor experience at a restaurant in Florida and was told it was due to staffing issues. This became a full on discussion between us that spanned several weeks. Both of us had experienced this from the other side of the table having been in the industry way back in the day— we realized nothing had changed with how these businesses manage labor in at least 20 years! So we started looking at why businesses were continually leaning on the old way of staffing, particularly in the hospitality, food service, and food manufacturing space— and realized we had a huge market opportunity in front of us. And again the more we peeled back the layers we started to realize the position the 16M+ workers were in (underpaid, underbanked, overlooked) and they really became the focal point of our efforts to build an equitable gig-platform.
Challenge-wise, there were a number of factors that produced tough(er) conditions for me (us): we were both first-time founders; fundraising as a technology startup in the midwest presents its own set of challenges; slower technology adoption for the industry we set out to change; and as a female founder I’ve had to deal with the inherent bias in startup land; obviously the pandemic has had an outsized impact on sectors we serve, but we are already seeing the industry rebound (new business openings) and expect this to continue a positive trajectory as we all adjust and move past COVID.
Q: DID YOU START THE VENTURE ALONE?
My Co-Founder, Thor Wood, is actually my significant other and he and I have been building our startup together since September 2016. We also have 5 children between us (2, 4, 6, 11, 18). Working with Thor has its challenges since we personal and professional lives are fully intertwined, yet is far easier than working with a partner less known, in that we put feelings aside and cut to the chase easily knowing we are both rowing the boat in the same direction with mutual true stake in the success (or failure) of the company— we have found that our skill sets are very complementary to one another. We have our sights set on being massively successful, and look at what has worked well for husband/wife duos at Houzz, Slideshare, Cisco, VMWare, and Flickr among others as what is possible, as any sort of union (life partner, co-founders, investor/founder) requires sacrifice, team work, and acceptance.
Q: WHAT’S YOUR BUSINESS MODEL, AND HOW HAVE YOU GROWN YOUR REVENUE?
Our model is designed to be transparent for all parties— both businesses and the workers. On one hand it is transactional like other gig platforms (uber, lyft, doordash, instacart, etc)— We charge the businesses a flat booking fee for each successfully worked shift; The businesses can access additional features and value-add services through different monthly memberships we offer based on the unique needs of the business. And the workers pay absolutely nothing to use the platform— they receive 100% of the hourly rates and any tips when applicable. Makes it a no-brainer for them I think. We are seeing a continued evolution towards tech-enabled management of staffing/scheduling via the gig-economy— this really becomes ESSENTIAL in order for these businesses to compete and stay solvent, so we are excited as we press forward and leverage what we do well.
Note: This article is part of a series. Be sure to check out the full 15-part series.
The SNAPSHYFT Labor Marketplace is a cloud-based Staffing-as-a-Service software and mobile app connecting food & beverage and hospitality operations with actual industry pros, on-demand. We help fill shifts fast. SNAPSHYFT is currently available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.