With the on-demand industry expanding to nearly every imaginable industry, jobs are rapidly opening up. The only problem is that there is no way to rapidly apply to all of these jobs. Introducing Crowded.com, the mobile-friendly way to apply get verified and get hired. Big and small companies alike are working with Crowded to validate the on demand workforce.
Today we sit down with the team at Crowded to learn more about the on demand market today and the most recent round of funding for the startup.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
The round was led by Tokalon Ventures (which previously participated in Quidsi /Diapers.com and Jet.com,), ARC Angel Fund, Early-Stage NYC Fund, Gambit Ventures, and several angel investors who participated in the management teams of prior exited companies. This was our seed round.
Tell us about your product or service.
Crowded.com is a platform where hourly workers “Get verified and Get hired.” Workers maintain their Crowded.com profile, get verified, engage in training and assessments, explore potential career paths, and get hired by the hourly and on-demand companies that best fit the candidate.
What inspired you to start the company?
We saw an opportunity to help job seekers in the hourly and on-demand sector; it is clearly one of the fastest-growing segments of the American workforce. We also felt the pain of employers who had to sift through stacks of online applicants who were unqualified, which wastes valuable HR resources and increases time to hire.
How is it different?
There are lots of job-focused websites out there that focus on quantity over quality. These job sites try to push as many clicks and raw, unvetted candidates, some qualified but many who are not, to employers. Crowded.com is different because we screen the candidates in addition to providing training resources.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The hourly market, which also includes the on-demand space, will represent 40% of the US workforce by 2020. The on-demand sector alone will account for over 7 Million of those workers.
What’s your business model?
We work on a Pay-Per-Application basis. Employers are billed only for qualified and verified applicants from Crowded.com.
Why is the workforce moving to on demand?
The on-demand space is one of the fastest-growing segments of the hourly market. The overwhelming majority of that is through Uber and other rideshare platforms. However, companies like Thumbtack or the various delivery companies that have grown to significant sizes over the past few years have made use of mobile technology to provide opportunities for hourly workers that were impossible several years ago.
What was the funding process like?
The co-founders of Crowded.com have two successful exits of venture-backed companies. The founders have strong ties in the New York Venture community – Howie Schwartz, CEO, is a limited partner in multiple VC funds, and Joe Rubin is the co-founder of the ARC Angel Fund. However, raising capital wasn’t the simple process of a few phone calls. While we certainly have the advantage of having the doors open for us rather easily, getting the deals closed still required lots of work. We had to have our act together, top-notch materials, a great pitch, and solid story with a real business opportunity. We put in the effort and spent the time and energy to raise this round of capital from some amazing investors with whom we are proud to work.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Raising capital is a distraction. It distracts the management team from running the business. The pitch meetings, the negotiating, the follow-ups, all take time away from sales calls, business development, thinking about business strategies, etc. However, it’s a necessary part of growing a business quickly. We needed the capital to hire top people and market our product. We just needed to put in plenty of extra hours, on top of the nights and weekends that we’re typically working as a start-up, to make this happen.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
See previous responses.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are currently operating in a closed beta with over 50,000 candidates. We are going to launch the public product this fall.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Buckle down. Raising capital often takes longer than you would like. If you’re fortunate enough to get the opportunity to raise capital from an investor, raise as much as you can to give yourself the longest runway possible. Have a thick skin. Get used to hearing “no.” You will hear a lot of no’s before you get a yes. If you’re actively raising capital, it’s good to be in New York. There is an incredible ecosystem in New York of entrepreneurs, investors, co-working, accelerators, incubators, networking events, support groups, etc. If you’re reading this article in AlleyWatch, you’re already off to a good start!
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
Our favorite rooftop bar to unwind? That will be the Standard Hotel. But this is New York – there’s no shortage of cool places, and you’d really be missing out if you just went to the same place over and over again. It’s more fun to be opportunistic and just make a left and pick a place that looks awesome. Any place with a sign out front that says $1 oysters usually makes it to the top of my list!