What would we do without Uber? Well, yes, there’s the whole bit about having to endure the frustration of hailing and paying for a taxi. But we really mean, how would we explain the plethora of new economy businesses that match supply of one kind with those who can meet the demand? So, meet the “Uber" for those temporary workers who help staff events – corporate outings, trade shows, product launches, conferences – you name it.
Which is apparently big business. And one in which there’s a huge amount of friction today.
Typically hiring through temp services or even Craigslist, the only known fact event managers have going into a limited engagement employment situation is that the person who shows up to hand out information, point people to their seats, or distribute registration badges was available for hire on a moment’s notice. They might be a college student or a mom looking to pick up extra income on the side. Conversely, they might be, how shall we say this, a less stable individual, who can’t hang onto a full time job. And while the event planner would clearly prefer to hire the college student as their company’s or guest’s temporary public face – it’s not as easy to distinguish the good from the not-so-good simply by looking at a piece of paper in what is typically a rapid fire hiring process.
The situation on the potential worker side is not much better. Potential workers have the same essential trust issue that the employer has - the person offering them a two day A/V support gig might be a reputable payer who will pay on time, and the full amount - or they might not be. Without firsthand experience, or a direct connection to a company, that information can be hard to come by, and most college students looking to pick up extra cash by working events don’t have the bandwidth to extensively vet every potential offer.
And then even when all of this goes well, paying these temporary folks can get complex. Paper checks are still the go-to method for many employers looking to pay hyper-short term workers. As is always the case when paper checks are the dominant method of payment, the process slows down a lot. And that means that event workers often face a long lag between when they did the work and when they actually get paid for it. That is inconvenient and in many cases actually undercuts the entire purpose of picking up the extra event work in the first place.
It is a problem that is crying out for a digital marketplace solution - a la Uber - and one that three Boston based entrepreneurs think they can make their mark solving. Former DigitasLBi analyst Matthew Osofisan, Corey Bober and Zack Smith are the founder of the Jobble marketplace - a one stop digital clearinghouse place where event managers and potential employers can meet, evaluate, book and settle up.
"Jobblers are professional, young, friendly, outgoing and reliable people - that is why Boston was really the perfect city to work in as we have a built-in market of workers who really can do any type of campaign - Guerilla Marketing, Flyering, Product Sampling, Concerts, Volunteer, Conferences/Tradeshows - whatever, this is the experience many are looking to build,” the service notes on its web site.
Jobblers is the platform name for the labor side of the marketplace - though the firm is really built for the employer side looking to fill out all kinds of positions.
“The Jobble mobile app makes it simple to review and hire on the go. [An employer] can even manage all your event help in real-time from the palm of their hand. And it also makes the process a lot more transparent since users aren’t random responders.”
That is because Jobblers are both pre-screened via a background check and then sorted into the specific categories they are qualified to work in. Currently, those categories include fundraisers and promotional events, as well as positions — including brand ambassador, host/hostess and audio/video tech support.
And that transparency carries through the entire life of the job - until accounts are settled and the worker has actually been paid. Jobble also handles the tax backend and generates the 1099 form for employees who make over $600 a year through the platform.
Jobble is very early in its life as a company - it has no funding as of yet and has been bootstrapping and working for a $10K grant through the IDEA program at Northeastern University. And, as of yet they are not quite ready to look for seed funding – explaining that the current seven-man team is most focused on recruiting users to the platform on the employee and employer side.
Currently, the service is in beta in the Boston area with a limited number of firms - though the team is aiming for a public launch this summer. As of right now, the service is free to all parties - though that will likely change going forward.
Some news sources have reported that the likely revenue stream for the company will involve taking a 20 percent cut of the payments it provides employees - however, Jobble has not confirmed that number, nor would they confirm their general plans for monetizing the service when interviewed
Jobble will likely begin looking for seed and angel investment in the “fairly near term,” but that it is not their immediate priority.
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