Uber of X: Jitjatjo is The Uber of The Hospitality Industry

While everyone else is off for the night or weekend, hospitality workers are hard at work. The hospitality world is an expansive space that works to serve everyone else in their down time or during vacations. From serving food to mixing drinks, those in the service industry are in a constant mode of quality customer service at a quick speed.

Hospitality managers’ main function is to serve as a referee to make sure everyone is playing well together to provide top-notch service at all times. When an employee calls out sick or quits on a moment’s notice, that can throw a kink into the system typically resulting in an understaffed shift or a subpar last-minute substitutes.

One company that’s looking to help managers stuck in a jam where they need to have a shift filled for a day or two (or sometimes for a few weeks) is Jitjatjo. This on-demand app platform gives access to both potential job postings and employees to fill spots at a moment’s notice. We sat down with Jitjatjo’s CEO and co-founder, Tim Chatfield, to discover what’s going on behind the scenes and where the company hopes to be in the future.

PYMNTS: In your own words, what is Jitjatjo about?

TC: Jitjatjo is an intelligently-matched, temporary staffing app that provides many of the top restaurants, bars, venues and caterers cover for last-minute call outs and unexpected demand fluctuations within seconds. We can provide Front and Back of House staff (i.e. servers, bartenders, etc.) on-site to work a shift within an hour’s notice or booked up to two months in advance.

In under 30 seconds, clients can enter their staffing needs into our app and the Jitjatjo platform sources the best available talent. Clients are updated in real-time on the progress of their booking, as well as the location of their talent, and can communicate using the live chat feature before and after they arrive on-site. To reduce the burden for managers, Jitjatjo also handles all the HR responsibilities including interviews, background checks, gathering tax forms, performance reviews, timekeeping and payroll.

Like Uber, the app also enables New Yorkers to make extra money. When they have completed the Jitjatjo onboarding process, users with serving backgrounds can log on to share their availability, pick up shifts and get paid instantly — both restaurants and workers rate each other once the shift is over. If a temporary staffer receives a favorable review from a respective venue, he or she will receive first dibs at a shift whenever the venue inputs its next booking. 

PYMNTS: What’s the story behind how Jitjatjo started?

TC: My co-founder, Ron McCulloch, has over 30 combined years of experience in the hospitality industry, and a common pain point for him was the inefficiency of finding quality staff. Whether it was hiring full-time staffers or bringing on temps to replace last-minute call-outs, his hospitality experience was filled with resource challenges. Ron and I also have a tremendous amount of experience and passion for using technology to solve business problems through prior business ventures, so we started to brainstorm ways to match hospitality gigs with the most appropriate worker for the job. That’s how the idea for Jitjatjo was born.

PYMNTS: How does the pricing model work, and how does Jitjatjo get paid?

TC: Our pricing model is transparent and transactional — we retain a percentage of each booking total. Our booking total is inclusive of all transaction fees and appropriate taxes.

PYMNTS: Who does Jitjatjo see as its competition?

TC: We don’t really see anyone else innovating in this on-demand/temporary staffing space like Jitjatjo. Unlike other on-demand staffing apps, Jitjatjo does not broadcast a job to groups of potential workers. Simply broadcasting jobs to potential workers most often results in rewarding the employee that is the fastest to claim it — this way of doing things is underwhelming and outdated.

Platform intelligence and real-time availability enables Jitjatjo to rapidly analyze and select “the best” available talent for each specific job and client at that exact point in time. All of our talent are W2 employees of Jitjatjo and have passed a rigorous interview and selection process, including skills assessments, in-person interviews and reference and background checks.

PYMNTS: Since its inception, how much has your company grown year over year? What does it attribute this to?

TC: Our company launched in mid-October 2016, so we’re not quite at the year mark just yet! However, in just over five months, we’ve experienced tremendous growth, having several hundred clients and thousands of staff in our talent pool.

We attribute our growth to a few factors — but in particular, we’re filling a significant void in the industry by having staffing opportunities available to operators with the tap of a button, as well as the quality of talent we supply these establishments. It’s one thing to identify a need and build a product around it. However, you still need to deliver in a manner that exceeds expectations.

PYMNTS: How many rounds of funding has your company received?

TC: We have completed two early seed rounds and are currently in the process of raising our final seed round in preparation for Series A later this year.

PYMNTS: What does the term Uber of X mean to you, and how does Jitjatjo fit that mold?

TC: This is a comparison that many operators, and even media outlets, often make. Certainly, it’s great to be compared to a pioneer in the gig and marketplace economy — yet there’s many stark differences between Uber and Jitjatjo. Like Uber, we use a “pull” model, multiple tiers of service, and placing a booking is extremely simple. However, we’re very proud of the robust features we offer that are designed to set both the client and talent up for success. Our platform really empowers the worker, providing them the opportunity to effectively select when and where they want to work, all while minimizing the amount of “work” they need to do in order to secure gigs.

PYMNTS: As most startups have their fair share of hiccups, can you share a few lessons-learned anecdotes?

TC: It’s really important to think like a client (and talent, in our case). At the end of the day, we can create product features that we believe are revolutionary, but it ultimately needs to be something that creates a frictionless and compelling experience for them. Initially, our platform was centered around last-minute bookings and instant fulfillment, hence orders could only be placed from one to seven days in advance. As our client base — and their confidence in the platform — grew, it was apparent we needed to extend the seven days booking limit to two months, which enables Jitjatjo to also provide scheduled temporary staffing for your clients.

Focusing efforts on emulating our client’s thinking patterns not only helps in building a world-class product, but helps in every other part of the business, including sales, marketing, recruiting and retention.

PYMNTS: What are Jitjatjo’s 2017 goals?

TC: We are committed to being the go-to solution for temporary staffing throughout New York’s hospitality market, and — off the back of our Series A — we will plan to expand the platform to service other industries and cities.