The hospitality industry is known for its relatively high turnover rate. Whether due to the nature of the job or the personalities of those in the industry, hospitality has always been challenged to find well-trained, professional staff that lives up to the entire brand promise of the industry - being hospitable and welcoming to guests of restaurant and hotels.
Poached Jobs, a startup born in Portland, Oregon, is angling to fix this problem by offering a full-featured hiring tool for restaurant, bar and hotel jobs that lives and breathes outside of Craigslist.
The pain point being addressed here is related to the clearinghouse nature of Craigslist that often dumps hundreds of resumes into a manager's inbox - resulting in only a few of actually qualified applicants. Poached's system addresses the needs of both employers and job-seekers, by providing tools to each group to find the most successful matching between employers and employees - including a BackOffice for hiring managers.
The team consists of co-founders Kirk Thornby, a serial entrepreneur, and Peter Bro, a Portland-based restauranteur with several operating concepts, alongside CTO Jason Wehling and Director of Marketing Raya White.
The Vine below shows a few of Poached's customers, and the Tnooz questionnaire is below.
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create a business.
I am a serial entrepreneur and had recently sold my last business, Acme Made, to a private equity group. I worked for the group that bought us for a few years but couldn't wait to get back into the start up world - it’s much more rewarding and fun to solve real problems.
My business partner, Peter Bro, owns a number of restaurants/bars and was complaining about what an awful mess hiring was and that Craigslist wasn’t making things any easier. One thing led to another and we cobbled together a beta and soft launched in Portland, Oregon.
People loved it! They went out of their way to thanks us for creating something just for their industry… That enthusiasm really inspired us to expand nationally. We really see a need for a service like PoachedJobs in today’s hospitality industry.
What are your funding arrangements?
We bootstrapped! That said, we are now in the middle of our first investment round to help open new markets and add some nifty new features.
What is your estimation of the market size?
There are 14 Million hospitality jobs in the US - it’s the 4th largest job sector in our country. It also comes with a bruising 60% turnover rate. So that means that about 8 million jobs will need to be filled in 2014. This is a fast-growing industry and the need for an efficient job placement site will clearly grow with it.
Please describe your competitive landscape.
Monster, Craigslist, Simply Hired, Indeed, Culintro. I think the real secret to being competitive is having a relevant voice to this market – hospitality is a passionate industry, full of unique characters and normal corporate hiring practices don't necessarily work. By focusing on this industry at its workers, we create an identity for our service that makes for a better experience for workers and employers.
What is your revenue model and strategy for profitability?
It’s free to apply for any job on Poached and $25.00 per 30 day job posting for owners and hiring managers. We are active in 10 cities and and projecting profitability in the spring of 2015 with our national rollout.
What problem does the business solve?
It saves restaurant owners and hospitality hiring managers from slogging through piles of useless craigslist responses in their email inboxes. Not only do they get more qualified candidates with Poached, they get an excellent way to organize their hiring efforts – this can save everyone a lot of time in an industry where time is very scarce. Further, it makes determining who is the best candidate and can lead to a reduction in turnover rates.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/pivots along the way in the early stages?
The concept came about with my co-founder Peter Bro, owner of multiple restaurants and a hospitality consultant.
Frustrated with his options for hiring competent staff and having to slog through poor candidates from craigslist, Pete felt there should be a better way to hire – a dedicated site that helps serious hospitality professionals find jobs. We thought of some intuitive tools to streamline the hiring process for owners and mangers and launched the site. There haven’t been any big pivots along the way.
However, we do have some very cool new features coming in 2014, as well as plans to continue adding new markets to our service.
Why should people or companies use Poached?
We save people real time by offering hiring tools designed specifically for the hospitality industry and bring quality hospitality job seekers.
Craigslist generates a lot of responses, but employers have to sort through a large number of resumes from unqualified candidates. When it comes down to it, jobs in the restaurant and hospitality industries require a lot of specialized skills and experience. PoachedJobs.com was
created to make it much easier, and much faster to list a job opportunity, sort through potential candidates and then make the right decision.
Time spent searching for candidates, and then training them, costs a lot of money. PoachedJobs shows its value
in the quality of applicants and the time saved in the hiring process.
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition?
My favorite marketing efforts are our Poached tools - branded sharpies, wine tools, order pads and journals for management. That said, Poached is active on many fronts - we have local city managers that do outreach to restaurants and hiring managers. We organize job fairs and service industry nights. We also make good use of social media, paid search, alternative weeklies and creative marketing approaches.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
We are growing at a nice clip and getting requests to take Poached international.
It would be great to have a worldwide community behind Poached with Job Postings, training tools and and an active blog that connects hospitality people from all over the world. One of the things that attracts people to the hospitality industry are the travel opportunities. We’d love to facilitate people feeling comfortable looking for work all over the world.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
The hospitality industry is filled with unique, passionate and creative individuals that deserve a job site that reflects their industry practices and interests. There is no reason to use low-tech general interest websites like Craigslist to hire industry professionals anymore. We create a space for hospitality workers to develop their careers and for employers to find them.
What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style..and why?
We’re kinda like Grindr for the Hospitality Industry. If you don’t know what that is just ask your assistant!