What is a short-staffed restaurateur to do when he needs more help on short notice? Short of roping in off-duty employees or hiring friends of his current staff, he may simply be left holding the short straw. Sometimes the open shift gets filled. Sometimes everybody else has to hustle a little extra. Customers might wait a little longer for drinks or food, but the show must go on, as they say — and go on it does.
We’re living in the gig economy, so it shouldn’t be hard for freelance wait staff to pick up work wherever and whenever their skills are needed, and it shouldn’t be hard for restaurateurs to find those people in a pinch. A handful of entrepreneurs have seen the opportunity.
Peter Harrison, president and CEO of Snagajob, recently told Karen Webster about how the marketplace for hourly employment got its start … all the way back in 2000. Today, Snagajob is launching Husl, its “Uber for hourly workers,” which has evolved beyond just helping employers find a body to fill an open slot — it helps them find someone whose skills and experience suit the employer’s needs.
But Snagajob isn’t the only game in town anymore. Here’s how the competition is shaping up.
Richmond, Virginia-based startup DineGigs is in the midst of a $50,000 funding round as it endeavors to grow its reach and offerings. The company is also reportedly starting its Series A capital raise of an undisclosed amount according to Richmond Biz Sense.
For now, the only part of its platform that has gone live is the food service job board, which connects independent restaurateurs with the employee support they need.
The public-facing DineGigs website launched in May and is also available as a mobile app. It has become popular in Austin, Texas, and San Francisco, California. Though Richmond has served as a beta market, there are only a small handful of local listings on the site, compared to more than 350 listed in Austin.
DineGigs Founder Duncan Parker said his goal is to help the little guys, although there are a few fast food listings on the job board as well. Most, however, are for small, single-location enterprises such as bakeries, breweries, food trucks, and hotels.
The job board is free to use, as will be the initial software offerings that DineGigs plans to offer to help restaurateurs manage such aspects of their business as scheduling, onboarding, and communication. That free software is slated to roll out gradually by early 2019.
The idea is for those free offerings to provide a gateway to paid DineGigs software services. The company apparently has 17 divisions, and restaurateurs may one day be able to buy custom software builds featuring a la carte elements from each of those divisions — but for now, it’s still a one-man show. One man, and lots and lots of contractors.
This marketplace was founded in Chicago in 2012 to help service industry workers find shifts and gigs – hence the name Shiftgig. Its focus is in the food service, hotel, retail, logistics, warehouse and experimental marketing spaces, TechCrunch reported.
Last winter, Shiftgig raked in $20 million to scale up its marketplace, bringing its valuation to around $150 million (although the exact valuation amount was not disclosed). Then, in September, it brought on former LinkedIn VP Wade Burgess as CEO — appropriate, since Shiftgig has been described as a “LinkedIn for hourly workers.”
Shiftgig connects employers and employees for 32,000 shifts a month in 15 markets. That’s nearly twice the activity it was seeing this time last year. And it’s not the only gig economy networking platform that could give LinkedIn a run for its money.
This California technology firm, formerly known as Lystable, has offices in San Francisco, London, and soon, Belfast, near founder Peter Johnston’s hometown in Northern Ireland. The enterprise startup helps businesses manage freelance employees — an idea Johnston got from having to manage freelance designers at Google.
Johnston describes the Lystable platform like ESPN: there’s a team of employees at headquarters, which is managed and served by HR software, but then there’s a team of 1,000 freelance photographers, which require a different management platform.
Though Kalo is not specifically for restaurants, that’s one possible application. However, the focus aligns more closely with LinkedIn — indeed, the startup may even plan to take on the professional social network by appealing to the 20 to 30 percent of U.S. and European workers doing “independent work,” who are not necessarily served by LinkedIn’s platform.
At the very least, Johnston says LinkedIn validates the Kalo business model. Of course, $25 million in funding (some of it from PayPal Co-Founders Max Levchin and Peter Thiel) is also pretty validating.