"If you can't create a lifestyle for you and your employees, the startup won’t be successful." - Sean Casey, Shiftgi
Shiftgig was launched in 2012 by Eddie Lou, Jeff Pieta and Sean Casey with an aim to build a community for a user segment underserved by existing professional networks.
Shiftgig is a free professional networking and employment website for restaurant, hotel and retail industries. The company hosts job postings in various sectors. It was listed in Business Insider magazine's 25 Coolest New Businesses In Chicago. Within just nine months of launch, Shiftgig had 100,000 users and 4,000 businesses using the site.
In an exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers, Sean Casey talks about Shiftgig, the source of inspiration that led to the launch this startup, his entrepreneurial experience so far and the importance of team work. Sean goes on to talk about the journey of Shiftgig over the years and his definition of success.
Read the following interview to know more about this cool startup.
CE: Could you please tell our readers more about Shiftgig? What was the source of inspiration behind Shiftgig?
Sean: Shiftgig is the service industry network, the premier online community where members connect with each other and businesses to access informative and funny content, jobs and industry deals.We knew that there were over 40 million people in the restaurant, retail and hotel industries, and nearly all of them were on Facebook but not on LinkedIn, which provided a popular platform for white collar professional networking. We also knew that most people preferred to separate their social profile from their professional profile, so Shiftgig was designed to provide an online community for the service industry to connect professionally.
CE: How does Shiftgig work?
Sean: Shiftgig.com connects people that are looking for full-time, part-time and temporary jobs in the service industry with employers and with each other. Members create profiles that serve as professional resumes and can be used to apply for jobs or additional shifts. A compelling profile on Shiftgig that shows off a worker’s skills, personality and social influence is like having a personal recruiter as many employers will reach out directly to our members for employment. Shiftgig is not only about finding employment however; it’s a community. Shiftgig is the home for interesting and informative content that is created and contributed by the service industry for the service industry.
CE: What do you wish you knew before you started Shiftgig? How important is market research?
Sean: I don't think I have any regrets about what I wish I knew. We've absolutely made some mistakes along the way but we've had a knack of minimizing them. We are very data driven and respond quickly. Market research is important to a point.
You need to understand your audience, but if you're solving a problem in a new way, a lot of the initial development is based on a split between research and instinct. Overtime you develop usage data to drive better iterations. Numbers don't lie.
CE: What do you most enjoy about being an entrepreneur? What will be your advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?
Sean: The challenge of identifying and solving interesting problems. For wannabe entrepreneurs: do the same and make sure there is some sustainable model at the end of the road.
The Shiftgig Team & Office photos
CE: You are one of the board of directors for the Chicago Engineers' Foundation. What will be your message to budding engineers?
Sean: Speaking directly to computer engineers: Don't do what I did. I dropped out of the UIC computer engineering program to work on my first company. There are some highly specialized skill areas that I wish I mastered but just lack the time and environment to learn them.
CE: Shiftgig was founded by a team of three (Eddie Lou, Jeff Pieta and you). Do you think an engineer works his best when working solo and not in a team?
Sean: Our founding team is pretty well rounded with me representing the technical and product expertise. Because of that I needed to put together a great group of engineers to collaborate with.
I think a team environment is very important, especially for problem solving.
Any engineer can relate to spinning their wheels on a problem only to have someone else take a look at it with fresh eyes and offer a solution. There are a number of these cases in the CrazyEngineers.com threads. Beyond the problem solving aspect, it's critical for brainstorming.
The first idea is rarely the best idea but it often triggers quick iterations as people build on ideas based on their own experiences.
Eddie, Jeff and Sean
CE: What are some ways through which aspiring entrepreneurs can raise the funds to develop their business idea?
Sean: Have more than just an idea. Get a great partner and a proof of concept done.
CE: How do you define success for any startup? How has the journey of Shiftgig been since launch?
Sean: At the end of the day if you can't create a lifestyle for you and your employees, the startup won’t be successful. Set meaningful goals for the business and measure success against the goals. Shiftgig's journey, for me, has been exciting and educational. We're applying technology in ways others aren't, and we’re creating a great environment within Shiftgig and a better experience for the service industry.
CE: Thank you for your time. Any message for our readers?
Sean: Check out Shiftgig.com. We're looking for great engineers to join our team.